Curling Up With a Good Screen
July 8, 2010 12:55 PM   Subscribe

So, now that they've both been out for quite a while, I have to ask: Kindle or nook?

I've been itching to get into the e-reader craze for a while, holding off until I had the money and second versions and/or software patches were released. I'm expecting some funds to come in for my birthday for the specific purpose of securing an e-reader, and I want impressions on the Kindle vs. the nook now that there's been enough time for the initial shiny to wear off.

I like the nook because the LCD screen looks cleaner than the keyboard, but I've heard that it isn't very responsive. I've also heard that an update was released making it more responsive, but I don't know by how much. I've held a Kindle and like its aesthetic. For the most part, the books I'd be purchasing are available on both platforms.

So, what evidence do you have that would make one better than the other. Is Kobo even better than either of the two older products? I don't think I'm interested in the Sony Reader, and an iPad isn't in my price range right now, plus it doesn't have e-ink.
posted by moviehawk to Computers & Internet (42 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I love my Sony Reader, so I'm sad that you've already ruled it out. However! Between the two choices of Nook or Kindle, I'd go with the Nook for the same reason I went with my Sony: fewer restrictions on file formats. One of the reasons I made the leap and got an eReader was because my local library started offering eBooks for checkout, but they're not compatible with the Kindle. It kinda made me think that Amazon was less concerned with you getting the fullest use out of their product as they were about making the most money off of you.
posted by scarykarrey at 1:00 PM on July 8, 2010

My mother loves her Kindle, plus the price just dropped pretty dramatically to $189 (although you can get a Wifi Nook for $149. I use Kindle and Kobo software on my iPad, and I prefer the Kindle -- the software has more features. There are many comparative reviews on the Net -- here's one.
posted by teedee2000 at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2010

I have a nook, partially for the reasons you mention (LCD instead of keyboard) but also because I hate Amazon. I've never had trouble with it being unresponsive per se, but I also think you have to have a reasonable expectation for responsiveness since it's not a computing powerhouse or anything.

On the other hand, my mom has a Kindle and when I've handled it, it feels much thinner and more sleek. I didn't spend alot of time comparing performance though.

Amazon has more books available in its store. The nook handles more formats, but the B&N ebook store sucks in my opinion...its not like the Amazon shopping experience.

In conclusion, I like my nook and think it fits my needs, but it's not amazingly better than the Kindle. I think it all comes down to, do you want to give your money to Amazon or B&N.
posted by cabingirl at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2010

I feel like I HAVE to reply here :-)
I have a nook, and several people around the office have kindles... For my money, I like the nook over the Kindle - the touch screen does take some getting used to for the lag (mine is updated with the newest updates), but it really isn't too bad. It's NOT a touch screen computer, and therefore, the limited times you would be using it, isn't a big deal. The thing about the kindle, is the keyboard, and to me, the amount of times I would use it isn't really a big deal.
posted by niteHawk at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2010

Best answer: I went with the Kindle after handling both a Kindle and a Nook. The UI on the Nook just wastes a lot of space, really, and isn't all that. Kindle's easy, clean, does this one thing it does very well, and has resulted in me reading probably 3x more than I would without one (being as I do not have to lug books about).
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2010

re: kindle keyboard : I've had a kindle for a couple of years. I can count on two hands the number of times I actually used the keyboard. I find the books I want using my computer -- either through amazon or some other site, and download them onto the device. If they made a kindle without a keyboard, I don't think it would bother me in the least.
posted by crunchland at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2010

I'm an ex-Sony Reader user, and currently a Kindle DX user. I'm very happy with the Kindle for a variety of reasons. I haven't used or tested the Nook though. As far as accepting different file formats, that really hasn't been an issue for me - it accepts PDFs, and the native Kindle (MobiPocket) format. It's pretty easy to convert other formats to one or the other. I have a ton of books I, uh, found, and it's been easy to get them on the Kindle as needed.

I don't really use the keyboard at all.

The purchasing process for the Kindle is very smooth - too smooth, perhaps, as it's easy to buy something you really don't want. It's also pretty easy to return it, fortunately.

One of the things I really like about the Kindle is that ... I don't have to use the Kindle. Amazon has Kindle apps for Android, laptops, the iPad. For "industrial-strength" reading I do really prefer the Kindle to any of those, but you can read one page on the Kindle, open the same book on another device, and it'll pick up right where you left off assuming you leave the wireless on. You can have quite a few devices using the same account, so I can read any of the hundreds of books he's bought any time I want. We actually have 3 Kindles, an iPod Touch and a phone all on the same account.

I really like the larger size of the DX, and I don't think anyone else offers that larger size yet, aside from the iPad. I could read PDFs on the Sony, but they weren't nearly as clear and readable as they are on the DX.

I hate to say this, as anti-Apple as I am, but the iPad seems to be a tremendously good reading experience, although I haven't spent hours in front of one yet.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:16 PM on July 8, 2010

I'm like crunchland ^^^I bet I haven't used my Kindle keyboard more than a dozen times in the year I've had it. Oh, did I tell you how much I LOVE my Kindle?
posted by Gerard Sorme at 1:17 PM on July 8, 2010

I love my Kindle obsessively, as I noted in this previous thread which may have some helpful info. I know people who love their nooks obsessively too, but to me, the Kindle had a better interface and a much better selection, plus I figure with all the Kindle apps for various devices, I'll be able to access my books for much longer into the future.
posted by leesh at 1:18 PM on July 8, 2010

The UI and response of the Nook made me want to throw the demo unit against the nearest wall. I suspect the Kindle will be the longest lived device and with Amazon expanding into alternate devices (Android, iOS), your eBooks should be readable long after the device itself becomes a relic.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:21 PM on July 8, 2010

I hemmed and hawed on an ebook reader for months, then the recent price drops finally pushed me to make a decision and pick up the wifi-only Nook last week.

My best advice is to get some hands-on time with each device. The staff at my local Barnes & Noble was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful when I stopped in to try the Nook and spent a lot of time with me showing me all of the features of the device. Target has started carrying the Kindle, so you finally have an easy way of trying one without knowing somebody who already bought one.
posted by indyz at 1:21 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

My fiance debated this same thing and ended up with a kindle. He is staunchly pro-kindle for the e-ink screen which is much easier on the eyes than an LCD.
posted by hungrybruno at 1:28 PM on July 8, 2010

Best answer: I bought a Nook when the price dropped, then took it back 10 days later. The touchscreen cuts back on the size and ePub support was nice, but the Nook was fairly laggy, the battery life was terrible (barely lasted a day with wireless on), and the selection of periodicals in the B&N store was VERY lacking. The (WebKit-backed) browser was very nice, but being restricted to wifi made it's utility questionable (as I already own a Nexus).

Bought a Kindle, the difference was night and day. The UI was much more responsive, despite all the action taking place on the e-ink screen. The keyboard adds a little to the size and the device itself feels a little cheap, but my overall Kindle experience has been much less frustrating than the Nook. Whispersync means not only can I read my books on the PC or my phone, it holds your place across all them. The browser's not much better than on an old-school dumbphone (it's based on NetFront), but it works on 3G unlike the Nook. Wikipedia being three clicks away at all times is immensely useful to me.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2010

I haven't used a nook, but like leesh I adore my Kindle. His name is Ken, he's FABulous, and he travels with me everywhere.
posted by toastedbeagle at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2010

Target has started carrying the Kindle, so you finally have an easy way of trying one without knowing somebody who already bought one.

Except you can't, really. The demo unit in their stores is restricted to a slideshow; and (at least at the store I was at) the employees were totally clueless on them; and tried to sell me on the nearby Sony units (and judging by the one they showed me, they'd be better off being melted for the raw materials). So if you're looking to buy a Kindle in-store, do your research first. And like your experience, B&N was very helpful when I bought the Nook (even though I couldn't stand the Nook itself for very long)
posted by ConstantineXVI at 1:41 PM on July 8, 2010

One thing to keep in mind---the Nook supports .epub files with Adobe DRM, while the Kindle (to the best of my knowledge) does not. Nook's support for Adobe DRM means that the Barnes and Noble ebook store is just one of many places you can buy ebooks for the Nook, while Amazon is (currently, and probably for a long time) the only place you can buy ebooks for the Kindle. I have a Nook and recently had no trouble buying and reading a book from Sony's ereader store, which is a helpful bit of added flexibility.

In response to entropicamericana above, Barnes and Noble also has an ereader application for multiple platforms (iOS, Blackberry, PC, Mac, and I believe Android is forthcoming), which is compatible with your Nook purchases.
posted by aparrish at 1:44 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I originally bought a Nook, and then returned it after a couple weeks. I then bought a Kindle, and returned it at the end of the 30 day window. Here are my thoughts:
I liked the Nook's over-all design better. I thought the screen was slightly easier to read, and I liked the choice of fonts offered. The touch-screen interface was OK, but horribly laggy. This is supposed to be better with the latest patch. I found that it took a full 1 1/2 seconds to turn a page on the Nook.
The Kindle is very, very slim and light. The interface is OK, mostly in that it is simple enough that it is not hard to find anything. The page turns were much faster than the Nook, to the point where I didn't really notice or mind page turns. As mentioned, Amazon's ebook store is better than Barnes and Nobles.

I ended up with an iPad. The big problem for me with both Nook and Kindle is that they were just single-purpose devices. If I'm going to carry something that large, I wanted it to do everything. YMMV.
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:47 PM on July 8, 2010

I'm in the process of choosing an eReader myself, and I have pretty much settled on the Nook for the reason mentioned by scareykerry up top: with the Nook I can get eBooks from the library for free, which is not possible with the Kindle. And I can't really afford the Sony Reader right now.
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:58 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I really liked the Kindle, but I don't read many books, most of my consumption is through the PDFs/web. The iPad isn't even a contender, it's way too heavy to read books regularly with.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:01 PM on July 8, 2010

I keep hearing this complaint, and all I can say to that is if you find the iPad too heavy, you'd probably be best skipping the reading and visiting the gym.

Also, FWIW, PC World found reading speed was highest on the iPad.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:07 PM on July 8, 2010

From that article: Interestingly, Nielsen's results appear to show that reading on the iPad is significantly faster compared to the Kindle 2. But Nielsen was quick to dismiss this conclusion arguing that the reading speeds between the two devices were "not statistically significant." "The difference [between reading times on the iPad and Kindle 2] would be so small that it wouldn't be a reason to buy one over the other," Nielsen wrote.
posted by found missing at 2:13 PM on July 8, 2010

I keep hearing this complaint, and all I can say to that is if you find the iPad too heavy, you'd probably be best skipping the reading and visiting the gym.

I don't think the issue is that it's heavy as much as it's too bulky for one hand.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 2:14 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I started out with the Sony Reader Pocket Edition when they hit $199. A month later, I sold it to a friend, and bought a refurb Kindle 2 for $219. I've loved it ever since. I've hardly ever used the keyboard in ~9 months of ownership.

I'm at the point now where I'll buy a book in an ebook format if it's available, over the paper version. Instant gratification, plus I have reader software on my PC at work, my Mac at home, and my Android phone - with all of them syncing up to "last point read", etc.

DRM doesn't bother me - there are ways to remove it, and I keep de-DRMed copies of all my Amazon ebook purchases archived.

I'm actually thinking of picking up the wifi-only Nook for $149, both to have a secondary ereader (I can convert my existing ebooks with Calibre if needed) and to have an interesting Android device to hack on.
posted by mrbill at 2:15 PM on July 8, 2010

Best answer: I really like my Kindle. I went and played with a nook before I bought the Kindle, and the page turn slowness bugged me so much I couldn't see myself using it. I've never had a problem converting any format into any other format that I might like via third party software like Calibre, so I've never felt really limited in my choice of bookstores or documents. Unlike apparently everyone else here, I do use the keyboard, but mostly when I'm using the sort of crappy internet browser to check my email over the free 3G when I'm traveling and don't feel like lugging the laptop. The battery also lasts for quite a long time, a few days at least, though I have a tendency to forget and leave the wireless on, which really sucks up the battery.
posted by wending my way at 2:24 PM on July 8, 2010

To me, my (2nd gen) Kindle feels clunky and unintuitive, to the point where I hardly ever use it now that I can read my books on my (too small, but much easier to navigate) iPhone. Any diagrams or illustrations in my eBooks look dull and grainy on my Kindle; the navigation is tedious; and the entire device (pretty cool "whispernet" service excluded) feels to me like late-1990's technology, right down to the physical (i.e. non-turn-off-able) click, click, clicks. If I could do it all over, I'd buy an iPad for my digital reading.

I wonder how many people who love their Kindles have navigated ebooks on an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. I hate to sound Apple fan-ny (because I have complaints with Apple too), but I think I'd rate my Kindle far better had I not known the ease of navigation (e.g. swipe page, pinch expand) on my iPhone.
posted by applemeat at 2:26 PM on July 8, 2010

Love my Kindle!

I've owned a Sony eBook, but switched to the Kindle 1 when it debuted. The connectivity of WhisperSync is a huge advantage - being able to buy books FROM the book is priceless, as is the ability to synch where you're reading across devices.

Upgraded to a Kindle 2 after a while just for the improved form factor, but at the time went through the same 'Kindle vs. Nook' process. The LCD screen on the Nook was a neat feature, but it was laggy and not at all intuitive (to me). Also, the Nook felt cheap compared to the K2.

The deciding factor for me was battery life. I sometimes need to go long hauls between power outlets and that LCD screen on the Nook looked like it was a major power drain. As I'm sure you know, the Kindle only used power when you turn a page. If you leave the wireless off for only when you need it, you can go literally weeks between charges. Weeks. 'Nuf said.
posted by matty at 2:30 PM on July 8, 2010

Went with a nook and I don't regret it. I do keep the wifi off unless I'm using it to help save the batter. My library is starting to allow access to downloadable books in the epub format, so that's also something to look into.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:33 PM on July 8, 2010

I love my Kindle and use the keyboard all the time, for searching. I'm dismayed that so few other e-readers offer a search option, which is why I will definitely stick with Kindle for the near future. For example, I can come across a name or place in my book, and realize that it's been introduced before, but I can't remember who that character is, or what happened at that place - and with the Kindle I can quickly search it. Sweeeet!

I can't give up the search function; it's supergood. And the Kindle just works really well as a reader; I use mine every single day, reading many, many pages. It's always with me.

However, I hate the whole DRM thing. I use Mobipocket Creator and Calibre (two fabulous free apps) to convert almost any non-DRM file (rtf, doc, pdf, lit, html, etc.) to mobi or prc to read on my Kindle. I can work things so that I can read what I want to on my Kindle, but most people won't be able to do that and I feel hesitant to recommend it to others because it means they are mostly locked in to Amazon for buying, and to the Kindle to have continued access to their own books. The reader is really, really good, in my opinion, but I don't think people should be spending $10+ (usually more than $10 since the whole iPad thing) for Amazon e-books that they can never access on another reader. But it certainly isn't only the Kindle that is limited by DRM. I recommend buying non-DRM EPUB books to read on E-readers that read EPUB, or else reading them on a Kindle after conversion, which is pretty nice and simple with Calibre if you are a tiny bit of a nerd.

CheeseLouise, have you seen this: Sony, Following Suit, Cuts Price of Its e-Reader?
posted by taz at 2:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding many here to say that what sold me on the Nook was the fact that I could read epub and other ebooks on it. My library system purchases many ebooks and I have been able to easily transfer them to my nook with Adobe Digitial Editions.

The Kindle, being a proprietary device, does not support these files.
posted by morganannie at 2:40 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've had the nook since it was released and I've been very pleased with it. I HAVE experienced intermittent interface lag, but it's NOT continuous. In fact, most times (especially when it counts: while reading a book!) the nook is very responsive. Page turns seem fast when compared to other ebook readers I've handled (older sony ereader pocket, original Kindle).

I have the WiFi / 3G version, and leave the WiFi turned off most of the time (3G turns off by itself when you enter sleep mode, and reconnects when you use a function that needs to connect to the network, like opening the B&N store app). My nook's battery life is roughly 10-12 days in standby/sleep, using it on average for 1-2 hours a night. I can't imagine how anyone could get it down to 1 day without turning off the sleep mode (which it wakes up from in seconds) and leaving the WiFi on constantly.

The nook takes a heck of a long time to boot up from power off. Fortunately, the only times I've turned it off since I figured out how to use it are after firmware updates. Other than that, it's in standby constantly.

The eInk screen is great, very easy on the eyes, nice semi-matte finish so it doesn't glare too badly; but from what I can tell, it's very similar to the one the Kindle uses.

The touchscreen LCD does take a little getting used to, as some functions are not immediately intuitive. Typing on the virtual keyboard is a pain if you have fat fingertips and like tactile feedback.

The (beta) web browser is interesting, but can be a little frustrating at times. Mostly text sites like MetaFilter work well on it, though.

MP3 player app works just fine, but it's nothing special. Audio quality seems fine, but again, nothing special. It just works. It is nice to be able to cue up a little music and escape from the world with a book using just one device.

The nook supports ePub and PDF, so I can (and do!) buy books from many stores other than B&N. PDF support seems good so far; I haven't seen a PDF on it yet that hasn't displayed properly. You can "sideload" ebooks from your PC easily, just like copying to a flash drive.

Overall, though, I think you'd be happy with either one. Like cabingirl said, it all comes down to who you want to give your money to, and which eBook buying process you'd rather tether yourself to.
posted by XcentricOrbit at 2:46 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Woah, people here don't use the Kindle keyboard? I use it ALL the time to search the text of books. My entire adult life I've wished I could ctrl + F my books to find the first mention of a character I've forgotten about, or to jump to another elusive section of the book -- and now I can and I do it anytime I'm reading something on the Kindle. It's the one reason I went with a Kindle over an unsearchable Sony -- heck, it's the only reason I actually wanted an e-reader in the first place. I still love reading paper books, but I sorely miss not being able to search the text as I can on my Kindle.

Anyway, Kindle vs. Nook...I've tried the demo Nooks in-store and couldn't even get them to work. I've heard multiple complaints about the device's faults and glitches and about Barnes & Noble's so-so customer service, and it turns me off to the Nook completely. My first generation refurbished Kindle has worked like a dream ever since I got it, and even if it started to have issues I would worry not a bit -- I've dealt with Amazon's customer service in the past and they have been amazing. They're pretty good about sending out replacement devices if yours goes bad. That alone is reason enough for me to recomment the Kindle over the Nook.

However...before you take anyone's advice here, check the prices and availability of books in each respective online store. Although you can purchase books from other sources, the buying process is easiest at each device's home store. Make sure you'll have access to books you actually want to read!
posted by phatkitten at 2:50 PM on July 8, 2010

Have a Kindle, love it. My husband bought it as a gift before we went on our last vacation - I'm the girl who packs a separate bag just for reading material. I use the keyboard all the time, love the highlight/notes feature, and the battery life can't be beat. I *do* love that my phone "does everything", but I don't feel like my e-reader needs to.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:11 PM on July 8, 2010

I've had a 1gen Nook for two months. Can't speak for shopping experience and whatnot since that doesn't work in Sweden (trial chapters do work though, and are smooth) but I'm happy with it, with the exception of battery life. I don't know how long the Kindle lasts on one charge, but from my disgruntled email exchanges with BN they seem to be of the opinion that maximum 10 days with 1 hour reading per day is plenty — I get maybe 15h over 3-4 days (With most stuff shut off) and disagree utterly.

There's half a sec lag between pageturns, but I've learned to pace the reading so that it doesn't bug me. Also, you can make a swipe motion over the LCD which changes the page; It's a small thing but less annoying than clicking the "next" button. They seem to update fairly often, but some of the UI design choices are mindboggling in their super-stupid. [no sorting in folders & no support for tagging means that your 16GB MicroSD card full of books is just one long list you're scrolling through — utter bollocks.]

Borrowing books through Adobe Digital Editions from my local library and loading them onto the reader works well enough, but no computer apps are smooth enough or well-designed enough to make the computer end of it all a pleasure (A "Delicious Library" for ebooks would be awesome, but we're at the mercy of sorta competent but ass-ugly Calibre) except Ephemera (OSX) which is used for syncing with your Instapaper account. (Not Nook specific)

The Nook is an Android thingy and jailbreaking it was fairly straightforward. Even though the hacked UI and available apps aren't all that, the community is active and helpful. Mark that up as "potential" rather than "useful today."

For all the shortcomings, I'm reading more than previously and I have the Nook with me most places. If you accept that no-one except Apple seems give UI any though, and focus on the reading, you'll enjoy whatever e-ink reader you'll get.
posted by monocultured at 4:46 PM on July 8, 2010

I have one of the original Kindles and love it. I also love that I can read an ebook across multiple platforms in multiple situations. I can start a book over breakfast on the Kindle, read a few pages on my iPhone while I'm waiting somewhere, pick it up on my iPad or notebook during the evening if I'm too lazy to get up and get the Kindle and then cuddle up in bed with the Kindle to finish the book before going to sleep. All that works seamlessly with Amazon acting as my bookmark syncing between the devices.
posted by JaneL at 5:41 PM on July 8, 2010

Echoing what was written above. File format shouldn't be limit your decision with the Kindle. It's fairly easy to load it up with all sorts of free ebooks from many sources.
posted by crunchland at 6:04 PM on July 8, 2010

re: user experience on the Kindle vs iPhone, iPad: I don't want an iPad for reading because I might want to read outdoors, where the iPad's screen is not going to be readable. Or at the beach, where as I understand it, the iPad warranty will be voided IMMEDIATELY. If I want to do computer things, I have a computer and my iPhone. If I want to read, I have my Kindle.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:22 PM on July 8, 2010

Has anyone used the iRex Iliad?

I'd like an e-reader that does note-taking on PDFs, which this does (albeit in a propriety fashion that would require constant re-merging of note layers and updating of document indexes.)

There's also community developed kernels, patches and software for iRex devices.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:56 PM on July 8, 2010

Also, if you're leaning toward the Nook, it is possible to buy an eBook from Amazon, un-DRM it, and then convert it to an epub to read on the Nook. Not condoning this, just saying that it can be done.
posted by snwod at 8:20 PM on July 8, 2010

Xing the comments about on the conversion of formats. The Kindle reads its propriatary format and mobi files. My understanding is htat the nook reads B&N propriatary files and epub. Calbre converts from one to the other seamlessly and effortlessly. Amazon still has the largest book selection, but as noted above, there are ways around that. However, if you don't feel like messing with files and just want to download books, the Kindle has the advantage

I think they have the same screen made by the same company, so that should not make much difference. So, it all comes down to personal taste. Play with both and decide which one feels the best.
posted by rtimmel at 12:18 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So many "best" answers here. I went with the Kindle after going into my local Barnes and Noble one more time and playing with the nook. The UI was maddening and unresponsive as all getout. So far, my Kindle is just what I needed.
posted by moviehawk at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2010

FYI - baxter_ilion bought me a nook 2 weeks ago, and I have had NOTHING but problems with it.

I love the interface and the size, but in addition to the problems I've had, the customer support is dismal. "We don't support SD cards, and we can't help you with any books not purchased on the site." I'm pretty certain what I'm having is a hardware problem, but they seem to be refusing to address that could even be a possibility.

ETA (and because I forgot to hit post 6 hours ago) - I got a Sony Daily edition. I'll let you know what I think once I use it.
posted by bibliogrrl at 2:22 PM on July 28, 2010

For what it's worth, Amazon just announced a new kindle, $139 for the wifi version.
posted by crunchland at 7:49 PM on July 28, 2010

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