Kindle, Nook Comparison (December 2010)

Have the Kindle 3 and the Nook, with software upgrade 1.5, in front of me and it’s time for a Kindle, Nook comparison to end off 2010.

Kindle, Nook Comparison – Kindle 3 vs Nook with software upgrade 1.5

The first thing to keep in mind is that Kindle 3 is a third generation eReader and Nook, even with the 1.5 upgrade, is a second generation eReader. While each has its strengths and weaknesses, the Kindle does have all the advantages that come with being a latest generation eReader – newer technology, more polished software, better resale value, and so forth.

A quick 2-sentence Kindle, Nook comparison would be -

  1. Kindle 3 is the better eReader when it comes to screen quality, ebook range, ebook prices, speed of doing things, simplicity, and focus on reading.
  2. Nook’s strengths include support for library books, ePub support, having a memory card slot and a replaceable battery, and having a color touchscreen at the bottom.

If you prefer the Nook’s strengths over the Kindle’s strengths and don’t mind reading on a LCD screen it’s well worth taking a look at Nook Color.

Kindle, Nook Comparison – 4 Critical Nook Advantages

Despite being a second generation eReader the Nook has some critical advantages – 

  1. Support for Library Books. This is a big advantage as you can supplement the books you buy, and the free public domain books available online, with books from your local library. 
  2. Support for ePub. This means that DRM’ed ePub books from other stores, such as Google’s new eBook store and Sony Store, can be read on the Nook. This wasn’t a very significant advantage – but the arrival of Google eBooks threatens to make it one.
  3. It has several things Kindle is missing. Nook comes with a microSD card slot, a replaceable battery, and custom screensavers. It also has a serviceable audio player. Nook has three different fonts while Kindle only has 3 variations of a single font. These are all features missing from the Kindle and one or more might be important to you. 
  4. B&N Store Support and Lending. You can read any ebook for free for up to an hour a day at any B&N Store. You can lend a book once, for up to 14 days, to one other person. The latter is a feature the Kindle is going to add but the former will, for obvious reasons, remain a Nook-only feature. 

Those are the Nook’s critical advantages over the Kindle. The remaining Nook advantages are discussed in the ‘Remaining Kindle, Nook Features’ section below and are worth a look.

Kindle, Nook Comparison – 7 Critical Kindle Advantages

Kindle 3 is a third generation eReader and has some critical advantages over the Nook -

  1. eInk Pearl screen. This is an eInk screen with around 50% more contrast than the Kindle 2 screen and around 35% more contrast than the Nook 1’s eInk screen. If you have them side by side you’ll always pick the Kindle to read from – the screen is just a lot clearer 
  2. Kindle Store. The Kindle Store is the best ebook store. It has more new books than any other ebook store and also the lowest prices. It’s backed up by excellent customer service.
  3. Speed and simplicity. Kindle 3 has slightly faster page turns and everything seems a little faster on it. The Nook’s navigation touchscreen makes things a bit awkward as the LCD screen has to synchronize with the slower eInk screen. Kindle is much more intuitive. 
  4. Text to Speech. The Kindle will read out books to you – provided publishers haven’t disabled the feature. It will also read out your personal documents and all public domain books. 
  5. Free 3G based Internet Browsing and Wikipedia Access. If you’re a Kindle owner in the US you get free Internet browsing from your Kindle 3. You also get free Internet browsing in 100+ countries that have WhisperNet (AT&T network coverage). Nook offers free store browsing and downloads – Kindle offers that plus Free Internet.
  6. Kindle App Store. The Nook App Store will initially be only for Nook Color, which leaves out Nook. The Kindle App Store is already here and is slowly adding apps – there are now 15 or so games. Of course, if you don’t want apps on your eReader then this advantage means nothing.
  7. Lighter, More Portable, Better Battery Life. Kindle 3 is just 8.7 ounces while Nook is 12.1 ounces. That makes a difference when you’re holding it and carrying it. Kindle 3 is also more compact at 7.5″ by 4.8″ by 0.335″ – the Nook is 7.7″ by 4.9″ by 0.5″. Perhaps most importantly, the Kindle has much better battery life (up to 1 month with wireless off, 2 weeks with wireless on) than Nook (up to 10 days with wireless off).

There are also two cases where Kindle might be a clearly better choice – If you live outside the US (only Kindle ships outside the US and only Kindle offers 3G wireless support outside US), if you need an “accessible” eReader (Kindle has a Voice Guide feature for menus and book listings that goes very well with the text to speech feature).

Kindle being a 3rd generation eReader makes a difference

There’s a reason why Kindle has 7 critical advantages and Nook has only 4 – Kindle is a newer-generation device.

Unless you need Library Book Support or ePub support or a memory card slot it’s a very good idea to get the Kindle.

For around the same price you get a lot more value for money and you get a latest-generation device. Amazon will probably add new software updates to take advantage of Kindle 3’s faster speed and various capabilities such as the currently disabled microphone. There is also a chance the Kindle App Store takes off and starts adding valuable apps in addition to games.

If Kindle vs Nook still isn’t clear, the next section should help you decide. My recommendation is to either get a Kindle or take a look at the Nook Color – There’s no point in buying a second generation Nook when third generation Kindles and Sony Readers with the new eInk Pearl screen are available.

Kindle, Nook comparison – Remaining Kindle, Nook Features

Areas where Kindle, Nook cancel each other out

First, let’s take a quick look at features which both eReaders have – areas where they effectively cancel each other out.

  1. Both have an eInk screen, which is better suited to reading than LCD screens. 
  2. Folders feature to organize books. B&N calls it Shelves while Amazon calls it Collections. Both allow for single level folders and are closer to tagging than actual folders. 
  3. Decentish PDF support. Note that a 6″ screen isn’t ideal for PDFs and there’ll be a lot of zooming and panning involved. Kindle 3’s PDF note-taking support is very spotty while Nook doesn’t allow notes for PDFs.
  4. Free Store Browsing over 3G and 60 second ebook downloads. Kindle, Nook both support this.
  5. eBook Lending – Amazon has said it will add ebook lending to Kindle by the end of 2010 so both Kindle, Nook will have lending by year-end.
  6. Password protection for Kindle, Nook – You can lock them so no one else can access them.
  7. Price – They’re close enough in price for it to be a non-issue.
  8. 3G and WiFi – Both offer 3G and WiFi support.
  9. Reading Apps for your other devices – Kindle and Nook are both supported by reading apps for PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android.
  10. Free AT&T WiFi Hotspot Access – Both use AT&T’s network and thus get the bonus of being able to use AT&T WiFi hotspots for free.
  11. Decent Browsers. Nook probably has a slightly better browser but the gap isn’t big.
  12. Lots of font options. The font the Kindle uses, Caecilia, is better in my opinion. You might, however, prefer the Nook’s fonts – Amasis, Helvetica Neue, Light Classic.
  13. Multiple devices on one account – You can add any number of devices to one account.
  14. One Book shared across 5 to 6 devices – You can read a single book across 5 to 6 devices.
  15. Screen Rotation – Both Kindle and Nook have screen rotation.

It should be clear from this long list that Kindle, Nook have closed the gap between their feature sets over time.

Next, let’s take a quick look at Nook’s remaining advantages.

Areas where Nook wins over the Kindle

This is in addition to the Nook’s 4 critical advantages over the Kindle – Library Books, ePub support,  B&N Stores, absence of several Kindle weaknesses.

  1. 3.5″ color touchscreen for navigation. This lets you browse your books and the Nook eBook Store using cover view.
  2. You could make a case that it looks better than Kindle 3.
  3. Being able to check out the Nook at a lot of stores – WalMart and B&N Stores are two stores in particular that carry Nook but not Kindle.
  4. You can migrate over your Sony Reader library, your Google eBooks, and any ePub books you might have.
  5. Nook is built on Android and you can hack it to run various apps.
  6. Nook 1.5 upgrade added the ability to password protect your purchases.

There might be a few Nook advantages missing from this list – However, we have the important ones covered.

Let’s end by looking at the Kindle 3’s remaining advantages.

Areas Kindle beats Nook

This is in addition to the 7 critical advantages of the Kindle – eInk Pearl screen, Kindle Store, Free 3G Internet, speed and simplicity, portability and battery life, Kindle App Store, text to speech.

  1. Choice of graphite or white Kindle 3. 
  2. The largest font size on Kindle is bigger.
  3. Support for Audible audiobooks.
  4. You can get a Kindle Lighted Case for $60 that draws power from the Kindle itself to power a reading light built into the case.
  5. Physical keyboard. Unfortunately, the keys are tiny and there is no row for number keys.
  6. Support for .txt files. It’s extremely strange that Nook doesn’t support text files.
  7. Stereo speakers.
  8. Amazon is in much better financial condition than B&N. It is a factor worth considering – you’ll want your eReader company to be around to offer you support and to keep the bookstore and infrastructure intact.

Given that the Kindle 3 is a third generation eReader it should not be a surprise that it has a longer list of advantages.

The Kindle and the Nook each have certain critical and non-critical advantages over the other. The Kindle pulls ahead due to being newer, having better technology, and getting excellent support from Amazon and the Kindle Store. However, you should weigh the relative strengths and weaknesses of Kindle and Nook yourself and figure out which is a better fit for your reading needs.

25 Responses

  1. Why does Kindle exclude library downloads? I know they want to sell books, but all the other e-readers support library downloads. Do you think they will ever change their approach?

  2. I need an e-book for a a person with low vision (wet macular degeneration). Any suggestions between the Kindle and the Nook?

    • Mickey,
      The Kindle is definitely better.

      The largest font size on Kindle is larger than on the Nook.
      Kindle has eInk Pearl screen which is much clearer than Nook’s previous generation eInk screen.
      Kindle has text to speech.
      Kindle has a Voice Guide feature that will read menus and book listings.

  3. I have the nook and am thinking about also getting the kindle 3. I love its small, compact size and the quick, quiet page turns. Also, I like that the internet allows you to use it as a browser, not just to purchase your books. Plus I like the light in the cover. Are those reasons enough to purchase a kindle 3 if you already have a nook?

    On the other hand, I am an iphone user and love the nook’s touchscreen, plus it was my first e-reader. Slightly torn about switching to kindle even though almost all of my friends have the kindle which would make the lending feature more usable.

    • Why not wait 3-4 months and see if Nook 2 and Kindle Tablet arrive.

      Also how the Kindle App store and Nook App Store progress.

      Right now would be a bad time to buy a new eReader – especially since there’s very little difference between Kindle and Nook. Something new that’s significantly better might show up. Also, in 3-4 months do consider Nook Color. It is really good.

  4. Does any one think Kindel will add Library Books, ePub in the near future?I like everything the kindel has to offer but the cost savings of being able to get books for free at your local library.

    Thanks, Mike

    • No idea, Mike. Unless lots of customers start asking for it, it’s not going to happen. And by asking I mean choosing other eReaders over Kindle.

    • Google ePub PDF converter – I know that certain features don’t carry over to PDF’s, but you can read ePub books on the Kindle that way.

    • google “calibre” It is an excellent ebook converter for free, and can convert epubs to kindle mobi. It also has plugins available that strip the drm off of any ebook, and converts to any other ebook format. heh. google “calibre ebook drm removal”

  5. I appreciate your comparison between the Kindle and Nook. I realize they are very similar if simply for the purpose of an eReader. I am looking at buying one of them and am trying to decide which would be better as an eReader in bright sunlight and a basic web brower.

    According to your thorough comparison, the Kindle definitely has its advantages over the Nook. I have also found this to be true of many other comparisons I have read of the two. However, I was wondering if you knew how the two compare when it comes to durability. Does the Nook’s touch screen put it at a disadvantage as far as durability? I’m a college student, and, even though my eReader would have a case, things tend to get a little tossed around in a backback with textbooks.

    • Hannah, you should consider Kindle vs Nook Color.

      Kindle – works for sunlight reading, rather rudimentary browser.
      Nook Color – doesn’t work in sunlight, very good browser. Also, it’s on sale until 8 am PST tomorrow for $200.

      Both are excellent – Kindle is the best eInk based eReader. Nook Color is the best reading tablet.

  6. I just wanted to say that this site has been extremely helpful. I’m currently looking into buying either the kindle or the nook and I had no concrete information until I came to this site!

    I’m still undecided and I need to do more research, but thank you for the start:)

  7. Very good job. You gathered lots of useful information here… :)
    I decided to buy an e-reader, but what you said about waiting a bit made me thinking.
    For some reason, my gut tells me to go for the kindle, but the nook definitely has some advantages.
    I’m not interested so much in web browsing, just reading books.
    I guess I’ll wait a couple of months to see what happens…

  8. I ,too, am looking into a ereader. My husband got a Kindle last Dec and really enjoys it. I have used his and like it also. However, I am in a few book clubs that usually have the books put together at the local library. I like the idea of borrowing the books from the library on an e reader.So I thought that the Nook might be better. Just rting to figure out what would be best for me.

    • Maureen, if you need library books then you have to go with a non-Kindle option. The Nook WiFi is good value for money. Some borders stores are selling Kobo for $70 – that’s a good price for an eReader you could use as your ‘library book’ reader.

  9. After doing some research, I have decided on the Kindle 3.
    Yes, the nook has some nice feature, but by the year’s end I think they will also be available for the Kindle.
    Also, the note taking app is genius and I really appreciate the fact that they already have that available for the Kindle while the Nook still doesn’t offer txt support (not that the app is free or from Amazon, but the Nook needs to step up it’s game)
    While the touchscreen is nice, I plan to actually read on my reader, and I found that I hated that little screen when trying out the in-store Nook. (not that I hate touch-screens – I love my iPod touch, but I didn’t like the keyboard on the touchscreen. Also, the e-ink display can’t keep up with the touchscreen and runs slower when you use the touchscreen versus when using the side controls, so it leaves you wondering if perhaps the Nook has frozen.)
    My eyes are not the best, and the real reason why screen backlights hurt your eyes so much is the constant readjustment between the screen and the ambient lighting. Browsing the Nook store on the Nook for about a minute left my eyes burning between looking back and forth between the screens. If there is a way to tone down the backlight, I didn’t see it. I find that to be a major negative, but I guess most reviewers don’t feel that because I haven’t seen anyone else have the same problems..
    I have been salivating over the Kindle since the Kindle 3 came out. I thought the first two generations looked a bit clunky and a little to large to carry around with me. The third one is so small you can almost tuck it into a pocket, yet it can carry a couple thousand books. The Nook has a few nice features and a low price, but I think the advantages of the Kindle 3 are worth the slightly higher price point.

    • Thanks for the compliment on the Notepad App. We have an update submitted and hopefully that gets approved soon – You’ll like the update.

  10. About the basic Nook: I am left-handed and find it very difficult to swipe “backwards” to turn pages. The manual page turn keys on the basic Nook are placed too low for comfortable use (for me.) I am passing my Nook along to someone else.

    I hope any tablet designer will provide some way for lefties to use the item comfortably. 20+ % of the population is left-handed. Mouse keys can be switched, so why does Nook overlook this simple matter?

    Only left-handed people are in their right minds!

  11. Once again awesome reviews man! you have helped me out with my final decision and I think I shall get the Kindle 3
    Thanks again

  12. I am thinking about getting a nook, Can you share books from a kindle and a nook?

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