Kindle 2 vs. Nook

So far I’ve remained relatively aloof from the whole “eBook” craze. Ordinarily, given my geeky background and borderline insane craving for technology, one would think that I’d be all over these things. The problem is, my love for the written word also extends to a love for the experience of reading a book.

Call me crazy, but I love the smudged thumbs I get from a 3-hour reading session where the real world ceased to exist and it was just me and my alternate reality, lovingly prepared for me by my favorite authors. I love the smell of books and the feel of curling up with a book in a comfortable chair with a ridiculously strong coffee.

Lately, however, after having moved a few thousand pounds of books from an apartment into a house, I’m considering a less analog solution. The big bonus to the eReaders is instant gratification – the shipping time on an eBook is roughly 60 seconds and there is no shipping cost.

The Amazon Kindle 2 is a great device. You can download any book from their roughly 350,000 book large collection. It comes with the ability to get magazines, newspapers, and you can even hit Wikipedia from the device.

Personally, I think the device looks decent, but it doesn’t draw me in. It doesn’t feel like something that could substitute for my need to curl up in my favorite chair with a good eBook.

Book prices are reasonable and it comes with the usual pile of acoutrements that you would expect from an eReader. The new offering from Barnes and Noble also seems to have the usual amount of goodies that you get with standard eReaders. Of course it uses “e ink”. If you’re not familiar with this, it isn’t the same thing as a computer monitor. You can read eInk in full-on glare and sunlight without a problem, just like a regular printed page. The thing that I find really appealing about the B&N Nook is that they’re trying some new innovative stuff. First and foremost is the ability to lend books to your friends. That’s right, if you buy a book from your Nook, you can send a lent copy of that book to a friend of yours with any eReader (Nook, iPhone, Windows, Mac, Blackberry, and more) for 14 days of free unlimited reading. This is a really cool feature because I hate how DRM (Digital Rights Management, the encryption technology that protects media) normally inconveniences legitimate owners more than it does pirates.

Another thing the Nook does is when you go into a Barnes and Noble, you can use the Nook to preview the contents of virtually any book in the store over the free in-store WiFi. This is really appealing to me because even if I do take the plunge and get an eReader, I still love the feeling of being in a book store and making my eReader give me bonuses for physically being in a book store is really nice.

Technically speaking, there are very few differences. The Nook has a second touch-screen that is full color that lets you browse content by book cover whereas the Kindle has nothing like that. The Nook weighs a couple ounces more and has 10 days of battery life whereas the Kindle has 14. Kindle is $279 and the Nook is $259.

From a writer’s standpoint, there are intriguing possibilities for eReaders of all kinds. I would like to see this technology used to shorten the life cycle between when the final manuscript is finished and when readers get a copy of the book. Safari, a website for computer programming books, does this already – you can see the contents of a book well before it is published and then purchase the print copy for a discount. I’d also like to be able to bring my eReader (say, my Nook) into a public library and be able to take out library books by putting them on my eReader and then the book just disappears after the 2-week take-out period.

To make a long story short, I’m leaning toward the Nook this holiday season both as a gift for my wife and possibly to get one for myself. It just looks cooler than the Kindle, B&N is offering 1,000,000 books to Kindle’s 350,000, and anything that gives me more reason to hang out in the in-store Starbucks and browse book catalogs is a huge bonus.

  • JulesLt

    Personally, I’m looking forward to the Que (see link) – which will also be powered by B & N – but it’s the first significant advance beyond the e-ink technology used by most of today’s readers.

    And I’m definitely leaning towards the Nook or Que due to their support for simple formats like PDF.

  • kevin

    Just checked out the site… The Que looks interesting but there are no shots of it in action. I also think that the Que looks very much like an eReader for corporate types whereas I think the Nook could be the eReader for book lovers. I don’t particularly want to lug around an 8.5×11″ piece of electronics to read my books. With something that big, I could be enjoying the feel and smell of a hardcover book instead.

  • Karen Wester Newton

    Just a quick note–
    The $279 price is for the international version of the Kindle. A regular Kindle 2 is now $259.

    Borrowing ebooks
    Both the nook and the Kindle use DRM, but the nook does allow borrowing from one nook to another unrelated nook (i.e., different owner). Amazon allows up to six Kindles to share books but only if they are all registered to the same Amazon account. B&N removes the borrowed book from the owner’s nook for the 14 days that it is loaned and restores it once it disappears from the second nook. Amazon imposes no barrier to all six Kindles having the same book at the same time; Amazon does NOT allow shared magazine or newspaper subscriptions, however.

    Neither the nook nor the Kindle support borrowing library books; if that feature is critical, so far as I know, only the Sony Readers support that. I don’t know about the upcoming QUE but since it is clearly aimed as business users, I suspect it’s not a high priority.

  • mwal32

    Have you checked out the Sony readers? They offer the Library function that you mentioned, but I think their ebook store is lacking.

  • Shouran

    The image you’re currently displaying is for the original Kindle, not the Kindle 2.

    Kindle 2 has done away with the scroll wheel and has a much more streamline appearance. In addition, refurbished Kindle 2 units are available from $212 (with Amazon warranty), ship immediately and come with free web browsing.

    DRM on Kindle has been broken and hopefully, Nook will be cracked in a short time as well. Granted, they tried to stop but it’s eaaasy to find :). You can also load images without any conversion and e-mail files to yourself for a fee.

    I love Barnes and Noble, but I just don’t see them as a digital content provider, and that matters more to me than hardware. Well, honestly, neither do I see Amazon that way. But I go to B&N to buy what I know what I can buy most at B&N – paperback manga.

    [The contributor of this comment has no financial interests in or Barnes and Noble Booksellers]

  • Tetched

    I too am “on the fence” regarding the Kindle vs the nook. The color of the nook is intriging as is the 1 million available books. Only drawback is having to go to B&N to get books but then again I love bookstores. Does anyone know the prices of books for each reader?

  • caroline

    I am looking at the Nook – I live in Australia and need to know whether accessing the N&B bookstore is going to be a problem. I noted that the Kinder is accessible in Australia – is this correct. Does anyone know which would be the better option if you take away the actual concept and go with accessibility of the product?

  • Anne K

    Just did a quick compare of ebook prices – everything I checked costs more on Barnes and Nobles site. Also, Barnes site is horribly designed for those of us with a large screen – archaic design lets you use only a thin strip of your screen real estate for shopping – FAIL!

    Nook hardware looks great but book prices and website shopping and management of device need to be comparable to Amazon/Kindle – Barnes and Nobles fails.

  • cbm

    I am very interested in the NOOK bc I am a memeber of B&N, they have a store in my town and therefore employees that support the community (unlike Amazon). I have owned a Kindle2 since last april and love it but would PREFER to give my business to B&N. Someone posted that the Nook books were more expensive..Does anyone know if we get our member discount?

    ALSO it seemed when I looked at preordering a Nook that B&N charges EXTRA for the power/USB cord which did not happen with the Kindle2 and bums me out

  • Kathy

    I am looking at the Kindle 2 right now. No one seems to mention the “read out loud” option that the Kindle has. Has anyone tried this? Also the Nook does not seem to offer this. I would think this would be a great selling point for people who travel and would like the option of their books “reading” to them on the road. Any thoughts?

  • kevin

    Wow! Thanks for all the replies folks. I’ve been intrigued by the text-to-speech aspect of the Kindle 2 but a computer reading books to me isn’t going to do the job – not when their are talented professionals who do the audio books WAY better than a computer could ever hope to. If I want to listen to a book, I’ll get the audio book from my iTunes.

    Thanks to those of you who clarified the differences in pricing. I think the information is accurate that the per-book price might be higher with B&N than it is with Amazon.. .but also still accurate is the fact that Amazon still apparently only has 350,000 books in its Kindle store and B&N is reporting 1,000,000 for the Nook store.

    I’m still completely undecided about which one I like better. Right now all I’ve got is the “feeling” that the Nook looks a little better and the Nook has a color screen for catalog browsing and the Kindle 2 doesn’t. I’d have to hold a Nook and a Kindle both in my hands to evaluate, and since you can’t try a Kindle without buying one… I’ll have to find a friend who has a Kindle 2 and play with it for a while.

  • kevin

    I just did a quick comparison of 6 books that I found in both the Kindle shopping area and the B&N shopping area… They were all priced identically.

  • VRiley

    I’m someone who doesn’t have an e-reader, but is interested in eventually getting one (despite being an old-fashioned book lover, because I’m running out of room), yet I’ve been hesitant at the same time, as nothing as seemed completely ideal. Now that the Nook has been announced, and researching it almost as much as I have the Kindle (though its only been a few days for the Nook), I do like what I see. First, the looks… don’t really matter to me, even though it does look peachy-keen. I’m more interested in the functionality. I see that the Nook appears to have solved the 2 big problems that I had with the Kindle… A) expandable SD card slot (the Kindle 1 had it, but not the 2) and B) Native .PDF support (the conversion for the Kindle sounds too bothersome, especially if I have a lot of .PDFs). But I want to wait and see exactly how a normal 8.5×11 PDF (standard for most of them) looks on its screen. I’m currently training to teach online classes, and the idea of grading papers on the go… and being totally paperless, is pretty neat. And with CutePDF writer, any document can be a PDF. Hence why that aspect is so important to me.
    For book selection… the “median” price of 9.99 that everywhere is advertising, doesn’t matter to me. Because I don’t plan on buying a lot of them anyway. Sure, I’ll occasionally get one… but there’s so many old classics I’ve never read (and I would like to at least try and read Moby Dick before I die, amongst many others) that are completely free on the Net, why bother? Not to mention that most all of the books I currently own, that’d I’d want to replace with e-versions… don’t have e-versions. I guess my tastes aren’t in the million or so that have been converted. And the e-versions I do buy are mostly RPG books, that I can get for 7.99 or less (which are more or less reference books)… and again, are done as PDFs.
    The only real advantage I can see that the Kindle has (which is one thing I liked about it) was it’s web browser. Sure, it’s very basic and remedial… but I wouldn’t use it for e-mail or important stuff. I just would want to get to Wikipedia. But since the Nook has the cellular access AND Wi-Fi built in (compared to Kindle’s cellular access only)… well, they have the hardware, the rest is just software, so I’d be surprised if something didn’t officially come out (or someone’s home-brew program) that allowed such basic, even if clumsy, web browsing.
    Once that happens, then we’ll have what every tech geek and nerd on this planet has been waiting for (besides a jetpack)… a very realistic version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Tell me you wouldn’t grab that and a towel, and NOT feel like you could solve anything that came your way)
    Sure, maybe a good text-to-speech function would help with that dream, but I don’t care for an emotionless auto-voice reading to me. I’d rather download an audio book onto it with an actor putting some effort into it. (Which I might as well throw onto my tiny iPod shuffle instead, and save the space on the reader for a digital Encyclopedia)
    The biggest hesitation point… is the price. Because even if it is the most advanced and affordable e-reader for the functions… it’s still 259 bucks… and I don’t toss out $259 on a whim. If *you* do, please e-mail me, and I’ll give you my address to send a Nook over. And thanks! Barring the kindness of strangers… I’ll wait till after Xmas, when i see some real-person practical reviews, to seriously consider making the investment.

  • Vickie Darts

    I don’t understand the comment “having to go to Barnes and Noble” by Tecched to get books? I live in Canada and I am confused as to how I actually get and downlad the books to the nook.

  • ckmotorka

    I checked a handful of books for pricing and about half were the same price at both stores but the other half were all less expensive (often significantly so, say $4 or more) at “the Kindle store.” I’m hoping for one of these gadgets for Christmas but I do worry a bit that my reading list isn’t the most likely to be available…

  • Marco

    I have a suggestion for all – it is called a library you can borrow real books and donate your used books – the idea of using an eReader for pleasure reading such (novels, etc) is not very appealing – short lived tech books are another story

  • HMB

    This is a really interesting post. I have been hoping to get some sort of e-reader for a while now, and the nook is the first one to actually appeal to me visually and technologically. I’m not so interested in web browsing possibilities as I am being able to comfortably navigate my library, read books and occassionally search the dictionary. The Kindle, while fulfilling all of these requirements (and many more I don’t have but other customers do), just doesn’t appeal to me in the same way. I, like many of the readers above, am running out of space and often frustrated with not having a book when stuck somewhere and would like a cool-looking, functional and easily usable e-reader device. The only problem right now is that it appears B&N is going to wait a long while before they allow us to tinker with the nook in their stores. If they would only make them available before Nov. 30th (the first day it goes on sale) for testing in stores, I am sure they would not only get more sales, but have customers’ feedback on fixing last minute glitches. I recently went to B&N asking if they had one to test out and they said it would not likely be available until Nov. 30th. Also, smaller neighborhood B&Ns will not be getting the nook to test at all. I hope this isn’t the case!

  • Tim Murphy

    I have been doing a lot of research into the Nook. I also am wondering about which e-reader to get, Nook or Kindle.

    I find that Amazon does sell a lot of ebooks at the same price as Barnes an Nobel, or cheaper; the Kindle2 has the most basic of web browsers which does allow you to access the Wikipedia; a text to speech function for those books, magazines and newspapers that allow it; and there is some ability to download ebooks from other online stores onto the Kindle, but it does take a process of emailing it to Amazon for conversion for a small fee. I do like the fact that My wife and I can both have a Kindle on the same account so we do not have to buy the same books twice.

    The Nook does have access to over 1 million books according to Barnes and Nobel; You can read a book at n/c inside their stores while sucking down some java; Other books from other sites are easier to download into the Nook; While they do not have it now, only a few, they are planning to allow for subscritions from every major newspaper and magazines available, not just the original 20, I have not heard Amazon make this claim and have only had a few subscriptions since the Kindle debuted; The Nook allows to lend a book to a friend for 14 days, but you cannot read the book while they have it, and you can only lend the book out once, to one person only and that is it. The do have the .EPUB format which I have heard will allow you to borrow from libraries as well.

    Both have plus and minuses, it all depends on who you are I guess. Both have 3 G technology, both cost $259.00, both have access to a lot of book (really, how many books will you actually read.), both are fabulous devices. I will like it when I can go to the store and try the Nook before I buy it, which Amazon cannot allow you to do. Amazon does have international capabilities, but how long before the Nook offers the same thing.

    For me the question is still in the air, but I still have time.

  • kindle user

    I bought a kindle 2 because I read a lot of tech books and travel often. Being that tech books are often 400 pages long, it’s nice to be able to carry multiple books on a small device that I can keep in my laptop bag. Looking at the B&N website, they have hardly any tech books available. This is a deal breaker for me personally.

  • Lina Kewas

    Myself and my boyfriend read a lot and we have a bookcase the size of our wall and it is filled to the brim with our books. I to am a lover of having a book in my, the smell of the paper, especially of older books. I went to Barnes and Noble and ordered it along with accessories for my boyfriend but alas to my dismay they do not ship to Cairns, Australia. Would anyone know if there is anywhere else we can order it from ? Or if and when we can purchase it in Australia ?

  • Palak Jain

    I was so excited about nook before I ordered it. I did enough research about the nook and it seems lot better compare to kindle. But after I ordered it and try to look for tech books, couldn’t find any. When I called BN customer service, they said if publisher would have give them rights they would have already uploaded under eBooks section. But it seems like kindle has all the rights of those tech ebooks. So I guess I need to cancel my nook order and buy kindle 2.

  • Gordon

    I have been reading eBooks for several years on the Palm Pda – of late the TX.
    The Tx cost about the same but has so much more going for it. For instance,
    I am able to input data via a blue tooth keyboard. This is missing on both of
    these readers thus preventing my taking notes on the device itself. The Tx
    offered wireless printing – able to print my notes immediately for a hard copy.
    The books downloaded into my computer and were then transferred into the
    TX – advantage is that I am also able to read them on my laptop as well.
    Unfortunately, the Palm has discontinued the TX now only offers the small
    telephone combination–no where near the convenience and versatility of the
    TX. I for one, do not want to be interrupted when reading on the TX or for
    that matter notes by a cell phone call. I’ll keep them separate thank you.


  • Karen

    Okay first I was just about ready to buy the kindle2 for my husband who is always reading a book. (I even thinking about getting him an e-read since the first Kindle came out.) Then I found out about the cool looking Nook with the eye catching color display that makes browsing your library much more visually appealing. After reading up on both I thought the Nook was the better device, but then I checked out the e-books available on both B&N and Amazon. I checked on the type of books my husband likes to read as well as his favorite books that he rereads every now and then. Amazon won on both what they have and the price. So I think the Nook may be a better device, but right now the books we want are not available and the ones that are cost more. Also, I was kind of turn off about the news that B&N is being sued by Spring Design over the Nook and possible breach of NDA. Still, IF right now B&N had more of the e-books we want I would get the Nook.

  • Rob in Canada

    The Nook will not let you download books if you are outside the U.S. Amazon has now started shipping the Kindle to Canada and Sony’s eBook Reader is also available in Canada.

  • Dave Joyce

    As of today, the Kindle now provides built-in PDF reader support. Read about it here. I wonder: what is the Amazon policy for converting previously purchased PDF eBooks to the Kindle format?

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  • Andrew

    If you’re going to complain about the design of the kindle 2 you should at least post a picture of it. The picture you used is of the original kindle.

  • Em

    Out of curiousity has anyone seen anything about the nook’s policy for screen breakages?

    I had a Sony reader for a month… loved it… was incredibly careful with it… and then one day I turned the page and the screen spontaneously cracked… Sony basically said “Oh well, screen breakages aren’t covered. It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t abused. No, it also doesn’t matter that you’ve only had it for a month. You have to pay for a screen replacement.”

    With a screen replacement basically costing the same as a new reader I put my broken device to the side and decided to wait until either something more robust came around or screen breakages were recognized as a design flaw and covered for replacement at least within a certain time period. I was reading that the Kindle 2 is covered for (I think it was at least one) screen breakage which was tempting to me. Has anyone heard about the Nook’s policy yet?

    I really love the idea of the ebook because I’m a geologist and when you travel up to camp for several months space in your packing is at a premium. A small device on which you can take your entire library (or at least the portion of it that you have in ebook format) would be absolutely amazing for that purpose! But I cannot read books on backlit screens… The e-ink is very appealing and for the short time I had the Sony reader I enjoyed several thick tomes that would have been otherwise difficult to transport together. My hesitation with the kindle 2 is the lack of SD card slot… and I’m still wary after my last experience with an e-ink reader…

  • Haplo

    I read about 30 books a year, and have recently received my Kindle 2 international version (have read 3 books in it so far) and I can say this:

    The Nook looks gorgeous indeed, we see in colour, so anything with colour on it will obviously appeal us more. Hence, the colour touch screen on the Nook seems fantastic. But (there’s always a but) I found myself holding the Kindle in a manner that puts my thumbs over the little keyboard, not hard enough to actually press any key, but they seem to be there all the time. So, on the Nook I figure my thumbs would tend to be in the same position, with the smudging and greasing effect that will have on the touchscreen. I’ve always disliked touchscreens because they get dirty in no time. The Nook will be impossible to keep clean, and readers are clean people 😉

    And another thing, you don’t really need more than 1GB of storage on a device like these. It’s way too much. I find it more useful just to drop the books I plan to read on the near future than having my entire digital library there, via Calibre, of course.

    I hope my comment helps people. I certainly haven’t read anything about the actual experience of holding them and reading on them, it seems most everyone just focuses on the tech specs, wich is fine, but we also need the “human” side of it.

    Best reads!

  • Robert

    I just ordered a Kindle 2 from Amazon and cancelled my nook pre-order. The reason: I can have the Kindle 2 tomorrow, and I can’t get the nook until February some time. I may just re-sell the Kindle 2 when the nook is available and go with that, but it will depend on my Kindle experience and my lust for new gadgets. I’d prefer the nook, with the browse feature inside B&N stores, but lets see what the Kindle 2 offers.

  • Joe Elwell

    I’ll buy the first ebook reader that supports the library function described in the original blog post:

    “I’d also like to be able to bring my eReader (say, my Nook) into a public library and be able to take out library books by putting them on my eReader and then the book just disappears after the 2-week take-out period.”

    Except, why bring the reader into the library? If I were able to borrow them online from my library, it would save me the trip. Then I’d be willing to use an eReader. Until then – I’d rather borrow real books.

  • San

    I received my kindle 2 as a holiday gift. 8 days prior, I had the opportunity to fiddle with the Nook at my local B&N. I was excited about the color screen, which displays your book collection in coverflow style, which I prefer. I think I would have purchased it immediately if Nook was in stock. Since it wasn”t….well 8 days later I received my holiday Kindle 2. I love my Kindle 2. I wanted an eReader for the purpose of reading books. The battery life is great and longer than the Nook–the color screen uses more battery life. I charged my Kindle 2 and read for almost 7-9 days without charging. I love the aspect of receiving e-mail on my Kindle 2. Not Spam, just email from those whom I authorize in my Kindle 2 settings. The “text to talk” option is a bonus, but due to the robotic sound it is not a killer feature over the Nook. If I want an audiobook, I use my iPod where I can listen to professionals doing a great job. You can download music to the Kindle 2 and play it in the background while reading. This is not a feature I would use either. When I read I simply want to relax, quietly and read. My Kindle 2 suits my needs perfectly. Loaning books is not something I need to do, thus this feature on the Nook matters little to me. Visually the Kindle 2 is sweet. The Nooks is also sweet. I have had no problems finding books on Amazon. The Kindle 2 is very responsive. No lagging whatsoever. The QWERTY keyboard does take up a lot of space and a touch screen keyboard would be great, but it too is not a major factor. I only use a few function keys on my Kindle. If you do a lot of note taking which you can do with the Kindle 2, it simply comes down to your personal taste. I have an iphone and a Blackberry so I can appreciate the differences. Simply a matter of taste. Bottom Line: I have other gadgets for other things — love my macbook pro, love my iPhone 3gs, love my iTouch, love my iPod…..i love to read. I love my Kindle 2. Will i buy the Nook when it is no longer on back order? Yes I will. Not because it is better than the Kindle, but just because I love all gadgets.

  • Jain

    Library books on the Nook- yes, it is possible. Some county libraries offer e-books. Depending on what the library offers, there are multiple types of e-book services that use Adobe or the pdb format to check out books. I haven’t done it yet, as I’m in the middle of a series, but I know that it can be done without breaking the DRM.

    As far as the Kindle vs. Nook issue, the Nook is more reader/user friendly. If you want an Ipad get an Ipad not a Kindle.

  • deb

    i have a kindle 2, and my friend has a nook. She (Casey & I belong to a book club. Casey can not alwys get the books on her nook, where as my Kindle 2 has never had a problem. She is also having a hard time with finding WiFi spots to download a book. I had been in the middle of the Gulf of Mexica, and was able to downlaod a book….so I say the Kindle seems more user friendly. The only question is , I would like to buy her a specific book for her birthday. Can I buy it and have it loaded on her nook somehow?

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