Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The eBook Reader Debate

Amazon Kindle e-book reader being held by my g...
Image via Wikipedia

My family is probably not alone in the debate as to which electronic book reader to buy. The two in question are the Kindle by Amazon, and the Nook by Barnes and Noble. It is a tough choice for us because of the completely different experiences we have in shopping for books. To put it plainly, we prefer the online shopping experience with Amazon; and, we spend a lot of time at our local Barnes and Noble book stores where we buy books off the shelves. While it makes sense to combine our physical and virtual shopping, the fact is that Barnes and Noble's website really isn't as cool as Amazon's. So, that is really our main cause of debate. We prefer the Amazon website over Barnes and Noble's.

To be fair, we are not comparing apples to apples. BN is a book store. Amazon sells books amongst many different things that aren't even tangentially related to books. So, Amazon gives more variety in what you can buy. This makes Amazon better at fulfilling multiple needs in one visit. However, none of those items apply when discussing eBooks.

I have talked to others regarding a preference for readers. Thoughts vary based on shopping preferences. For example, geek friends prefer the Nook because it runs on Android. This means you can hack it to do things that it probably was not intended to do. What really interests me is that the Nook reader makes Google Books useful.

Even though you can read entire books through Google, their online reader is lousy. You can't bookmark or annotate. It's basically reading an online PDF that you can't download or use. The Nook allows you to download and read these books in a much easier way than on your computer screen. The Nook also allows you to lend books to others, which is an awesome thing. This brings the whole ebook reading experience closer to the real thing.

Besides the online shopping issue, I personally like the Kindle better because it doesn't have that stupid little touchscreen at the bottom. I'm a geek; I can't figure out how to navigate the damned thing. Kindle, on the other hand, is just intuitive.

I've talked to another friend who owns a Nook. He is very happy with the Nook. He likes the ability to download Google Books, enjoys the ability to lend books, and is very pleased with the product, overall. However, he and his wife will probably be a 2 ebook reader home. They are going to get a Kindle too; they simply are more in tune with Amazon than with Barnes and Noble, even though, like me, they have the advantage of visiting local stores.

I think our home will probably also be a dual ebook reader home too. If you look at the raw numbers, my family buys a crapload of books from Barnes and Noble stores. But their website sucks. I HAD TO RESEARCH how to find Google Books on their site. We'll buy the Nook because we are already good customers and can get cool offers when visiting the store with the device. But, having experienced neither, it was a tough choice for us to make up our mind which to get first.

I'm currently trying the Android apps for both. Right out of the gate, I like the Nook app better than the Kindle app. They both offer the same functionality; I just think that the Nook app does a good job of animating page turns. But, in all honesty, they are both equal in terms of ease of use and functionality.

It might seem strange that such a debate would become an issue within a household. Our family consists of readers. We have books everywhere. Quite honestly, we are running out of room to put books in our little apartment. It is, therefore, important that we select an electronic platform for our books. Whichever we choose will likely be our ebook reader of choice for life. Whatever the savings of buying electronic books; we are not going to buy the same books twice. So, it is important for us to choose the one that will carry us for decades. So, we probably will have one of each reader at the outset.

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