There can only be one ring to rule them all. Or not.
January 16, 2011 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Kindle3 or Color Nook or Samsung Tab or just sticking with dead trees? I've been reading so many reviews, forums, tech support, askme posts, that my head is spinning and I don't know what to think. The new Kindle and Nook are supposedly vastly better than their predecessors, so I'm hoping mefites with new holiday toys might be able to shed some light.

tl;dr at bottom.

First, iPad is out of my budget (and probably the Tab, but I'm still willing to consider it. I have a Samsung Fascinate and am teaching myself how to program some simple Android stuff, so having another android device isn't the worst thing.)

Ok, so here's my thing. I like to read. I get books from the library, I buy books, I get books on the Kindle app on my Android phone. My library will be providing ebooks in the near future but haven't released a statement about which format they would be in. They currently use OverDrive for audio books.

I would like to make a note or highlight at a certain place and then have a list of all the highlighted phrases with notes in one place, grouped by book. It'd be cool to export them or access them on the web so I could tag for future reference. I've read so many differing accounts of this ability on Kindle and NookColor that I am sufficiently confused beyond belief. It's very hard to sort who is just having a PEBKAC problem and whether or not it's just not possible.

The main issue with notes on the NookColor seems to be there is a list of highlighted phrases but you have to click on the phrase to see the note, which isn't ideal. Is there some sort of fix for this if I root it?

PDFs aren't a huge issue, because this is pretty much all nonacademic book reading.

However, since I do read a fair amount of nonfiction, I tend to read things with footnotes and/or endnotes. There's seems to be some issue with Kindle books where if you click on the asterisk or number, it's not always linked to the footnotes page or it just takes you to the main footnotes page and you have to scroll through to find the one you need. Do either the NookColor or Kindle 3 address this, perhaps with an inline popup or bottom of the screen popup that shows the footnote or endnote?

I really like the NookColor's handling of magazines, which is what initially drew me to it. However, I'm starting to wonder if just plunking down for the Tab and putting the Kindle and Nook apps on there and just using evernote might not be a better way. And then I could still see the websites for the magazines since the Nook app doesn't support magazines. My only question with this idea would still be the footnote/endnote handling.

I have tried both in the stores, but am more concerned about hearing from people who have used them for longer 10 minutes at a time.

- What are the issues/joys you have experienced with footnotes/endnotes in ebooks (not pdfs) with the NookColor/ Kindle3/Tab with Kindle and Nook apps?

- What are the issues/joys you have experienced with adding your own notes on the NookColor or Kindle 3 and then being able to view them later on the web (or somewhere), with the possibility of tagging notes for later reference? If I go the Tab route, can I copy and paste a phrase from the Kindle or Nook app and paste it into Evernote?
posted by sio42 to Technology (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you just want the thing for reading, get a Kindle.

I enjoy my Galaxy tab but wouldn't want to cuddle up with it and read several chapters. The e-ink screen on the Kindle is tops for that.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:07 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kindle 3 owner here. I haven't ever used the previous models, but a friend of mine who had assured me that 1) yes, the contrast is better, 2) the refresh rate is faster, so pages "turn" faster.

The Kindle handles notes and highlights by saving them into a file called "My Clippings." This file can be exported to a computer as a text file. (I just tested this with Calibre, but doing this with the kindle software might actually store this in their cloud storage so that it's accessible from any device.) The notes and highlights are NOT grouped by book, but by the time you add them: however, they all have a header with metadata about that note, including the book that it's from. Here's a sample of what that looks like:

Equal Rites (Terry Pratchett)
- Highlight Loc. 2540-41 | Added on Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 09:46 PM

They both savoured the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than ordinary people, who were ignorant of only ordinary things.
murakami, haruki - Norwegian wood.doc (Rainer)
- Highlight Loc. 3218-21 | Added on Sunday, November 28, 2010, 01:51 AM

"So that's when it hit me. These guys are fakes. All they've got on their minds is impressing the new girls with the big words they're so proud of, while sticking their hands up their skirts. And when they graduate, they cut their hair short and march off to work for Mitsubishi or IBM or Fuji Bank. They marry pretty wives who've never read Marx and have kids they give fancy new names to that are enough to make you puke. Smash what educational-industrial complex? Don't make me laugh!
murakami, haruki - Norwegian wood.doc (Rainer)
- Highlight Loc. 4839-40 | Added on Tuesday, November 30, 2010, 09:58 PM

All of us (by which I mean all of us, both normal and not-so-normal) are imperfect human beings living in an imperfect world. We don't live with the mechanical precision of a bank account or by measuring all our lines and angles with rulers and protractors. Am I right?

As for books with endnotes/footnotes themselves, I haven't read a ton of them but I have found them kind of unsatisfactory. In the Discworld books, for example, I'm pretty sure the notes are supposed to be footnotes, not endnotes, but they're all listed at the end and by that time the joke is long gone. This may simply be the formatting of the books and not any kind of kindle issue, but I find it annoying and I haven't tried to find a work-around yet.
posted by girih knot at 1:20 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Overdrive does not work with Kindle.

But it may not be a dealbreaker, because many of the offerings through Overdrive are terrible. Check what your library offers before you commit - my local selection is so poor that I decided it wasn't even a factor and bought a Kindle, which I'm very happy with. As a librarian, it's frustrating.

I don't bother with adding notes very often so can't really comment on this. I would be inclined to syc back to Mendely but haven't tried this yet.

Nonfiction - most academic publishers do not offer a good selection of ebooks yet. I, too, prefer nonfiction but I mostly stick with PDFs or pop-nonfiction. Other texts are still print only.
posted by wingless_angel at 1:22 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I hate reading books on a computer, and I hate reading books on a tablet, but I LOOOOOOVE reading books on my Kindle 3. The notes, for me, jump to the correct point within the notes, not to the beginning, or at least they did in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
posted by KathrynT at 1:35 PM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

thanks for the responses so far. good things to know.

girih knot - if you were to add a note, not just a highlight, does that appear below your highlight or separately? like if you wanted to comment on the passage from Murakami.

i like the text file export, i could just cut and paste into evernote.

i'm going to try looking again at Amazon's Kindle site to see if can find more about their note syncing.
posted by sio42 at 1:36 PM on January 16, 2011

If you've already bought books on the Kindle app for Android, I'd definitely stick to the Kindle. While the Kindle isn't the most library friendly, I think Amazon is the most likely to stick to and support their e-book system for years to come so it's the one I've invested in. With the addition of being able to lend (select) books, I'm very happy with my Kindle.

I definitely wouldn't get a Nook Color if you're looking at a device for hard-core reading--stick with e-ink. I love my iPad, but I'll be the first to admit that if I want to settle down for a good reading session, my Kindle beats the iPad color screen hands down.
posted by ninjakins at 2:12 PM on January 16, 2011

Overdrive works with the Nook, the Sony Readers, and any other reader that supports Adobe Digital Editions in DRM'ed ePub format. It does not (and probably never will) work with the Kindle.

EPub is the emerging open standard for ebooks, and there are several vendors of books in this format (B&N, Google, Kobobooks, Sony bookstore, and others). The Kindle uses its own format and its own DRM. It doesn't (directly) support ePub -- though it is possible to convert ePub files into a format that Kindle can cope with. In general though, if you own a Kindle, you will be purchasing books from Amazon and nowhere else. If you own a device that supports ePub, you'll end up purchasing books from multiple sources.

The Kindle 3 and newest Sony readers (PRS-650/PRS-350) use the same eInk Pearl screen technology. It is significantly better than previous versions of eInk, including all the B&W nooks. I've never seen a color Nook, so I can't really compare it.

The Sony PRS-350 is the smallest major ebook reader on the market. Like the 300 before it, it really can slip into a jacket pocket. This is more useful than I expected it to be.

The Nook and Kindle both allow you to wirelessly purchase books from the device. The Sony units don't have wireless hardware. They are loaded (and charged) via USB, which is easy, but not as seamless. The flip-side of this is that B&N and Amazon can remove books from your device wirelessly (Amazon famously did this with 1984). It is unknown what sort of other data-mining B&N and/or Amazon does to your device... but they do have 24x7 access to it. For some people this is important. For most, it is not.

My household has two Sony units, a PRS-600 and a PRS-300. We are very happy with both of them (I'd say that we unanimously prefer the PRS-300) . I'm considering upgrading my PRS-600 to a new PRS-350, primarily for the newer eInk screen and the increased portability.
posted by toxic at 2:15 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

toxic - that is very interesting. while i'd like to not worry about it, that is something i am concerned with. bleh. how is the note taking and footnote access with the Sony?
posted by sio42 at 2:20 PM on January 16, 2011

sio42: It appears separately. It's distinguished by - Note instead of - Highlight, but the metadata is otherwise the same, and separate.
posted by girih knot at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2011

In the Discworld books, for example, I'm pretty sure the notes are supposed to be footnotes, not endnotes

I can confirm that this is the case.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:53 PM on January 16, 2011

Footnotes/End notes work great on the Sonys with touchscreens (and they link wherever the publisher puts them in the epub).

I've never used the note-taking functions. I know that it'll let you highlight passages, as well as use an on-screen keyboard, and even scribble an image on the touchscreen. There's a third-party application to get the notes out of the device... but I have no idea how well any of that works.

The Mobileread wiki and forums are a pretty good source for the nitty-gritty of readers' features, including the imports that aren't as well known.
posted by toxic at 7:46 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a non-color Nook owner, and love it; for what it's worth, with the latest firmware upgrades, they're much, much better than they were when first reviewed.

However, were I to buy an eReader now, I'd go with one of the newest Sony Touch readers. Epub access and lending is an issue for me, as I both take books out of the library and use a lending service for downloading review copies (which apparently recently stopped working for Kindle completely. Frustrating for kindle owners, but it seems like Kindle just stinks for that type of thing!). I also love eInk. Seriously, it's a pleasure to read, battery life is phenomenal, and it's really easy on the eyes. For that reason, NookColors would be out.

But my least favorite feature of the Nook is the highlighting feature. Pain. In the. Ass. From researching fairly extensively, it sounds like the Sony is the way to go on that front.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:58 PM on January 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a wifi-only Kindle 3 (no 3G network access). It has a menu option that lets me turn wireless on and off. Hypothetically, if I wanted to always keep this option off and only load books via USB, I could prevent Amazon from remotely deleting books and from tracking my reading behavior.

I'm not familiar with the technical details and can't find a citation at the moment; hopefully someone else can confirm or deny this.
posted by tantivy at 8:08 PM on January 16, 2011

I'm not sure I understand what you want to do with the notes. Using the default reader on a Nook Color, you can pop up a list of the notes you've made in a book when the book is open, and clicking on a note will take you to that point in the book. I don't know that you can export the notes. The manual claims you can share selections using email, Facebook, or Twitter in the builtin app, but I've never used that function. Copy to clipboard doesn't seem to be supported (but a non-rooted Nook wouldn't have a use for that anyway, which might be why).
On a rooted NC you can load any of the multitude of e-readers in the Android market, so if one of them does what you want then you're good to go. It's trivial to root anymore. Moon+ does allow you to copy to clipboard, or share using other methods.
If you're worried about B&N deleting your content, you can copy them to your computer and strip the DRM. Note that once you do this, the books will need to be sideloaded, and their appearance on the device is slightly different (they're in a different folder, and can't be put on the home screen). But B&N won't be able to take it back from you...
I don't use Overdrive, but there are reports on the boards that it will work on a rooted NC.
And if you've got any form of an ebook reader, Calibre is your friend.
I haven't bought any of the magazines that B&N sells, but Calibre does an awesome job of formatting web content for the reader. So if your target magazine has a website it'll scrape it and format it for the reader.
posted by Runes at 9:07 PM on January 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've owned 1st & 2nd gen Kindles, the Kindle DX, the iPad and a Samsung Galaxy. By far my favorite reading experience has to be the Galaxy using one of the generic reading apps that supports 'night mode'. When I first got the kindle, I did lots of notes and highlighting; I haven't felt any need to do so since I got the Tab, so can't really comment on how hard or easy that might be.

The biggest downside to the Galaxy, as compares to the iPad, is battery life. Assuming you don't have "find my iphone" turned on, the ipad will last for days of constant usage, whereas the Galaxy needs recharging every other day at best, and every day under heavy use. I wouldn't trust the galaxy to be my only reading device on a long plane trip.

Note that the Kindle app does not support magazines, so if magazines are important to you, you'd need a physical kindle.
posted by nomisxid at 7:39 AM on January 17, 2011

what i want to do with notes is just have them available to search later. for instance, "oh what was that book i read about XYZ?" i can then search the notes, rather than having to remember the exact book it was from.

i found the original Nook very hard to figure out, but i may have to give it another try if it has been updated. i do like touchscreens.

i've seen all the posts about DRM-removal on some other sites as well. i can't believe i really forgot about that whole aspect of the ebook phenomenon. i've been looking at the calibre forums and mobileread as well.

thanks for the comments everyone. that's the kind of stuff i was looking for to help me narrow in on my decision. i'll have to go fiddle with the kindle and nook in the stores again and see if i can find a sony reader on display somewhere.
posted by sio42 at 7:51 AM on January 17, 2011

I wouldn't trust the galaxy to be my only reading device on a long plane trip.

Wow. It's not at all unusual to get 1-2 weeks of reading on a single charge with an eInk device. My last vacation involved 15+ hours of air travel, and probably another 50 hours of reading on the beach over the course of 10 days. My unit still was half charged when I returned home.

"Can't last through a long plane trip" would be a deal-killer for me.

see if i can find a sony reader on display somewhere

Most Best Buy stores carry them.
posted by toxic at 10:28 AM on January 17, 2011

ok. i went to bn to test out the original nook. the notes are weird. you can only see in the book you are in and ONLY if you are on the page where the note is. you'd have to bookmark the page AND make a note if that's what you wanted to do. that is really weird. apparently it works differently on the NookColor. the nook sales rep was really helpful and also quite mystified about the notes thing being so anti-intuitive.

the Kindle 3 is really easy to use for notes and while it does separate the highlight and note, which is kind of weird, at least it shows all of them in one space so i don't have to remember which book i was looking at. apparently i can also go to kindle. to see and search all my notes.

the endnotes work ok on both provided the publisher made them work correctly.

i'm guessing that with the added caveat about amazon or bn being to take back books, the best thing would be to remove DRM from any books i purchase that i definitely do not want to lose and storing that on my hard drive. it's kind of a pain, but better than losing 1984. i also like that i can export my notes to a txt file from the kindle for the same reason.

tomorrow i will try call around to see who has a Sony Reader and go torture their sales staff with my questions about footnotes and highlighting.
posted by sio42 at 3:03 PM on January 17, 2011

found a sony reader. while it is enticing, it's apparently a real pain to get the notes off of it according to the mobileread forums and the touch screen is frustratingly slow to respond.

i'm going to go with the Kindle 3 wifi and the Calibre software.

thanks for everyone's input. it has been very helpful, especially since i forgot about the whole "yank back" with books i "buy" from amazon.
posted by sio42 at 1:04 PM on January 18, 2011

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