Why did Nook Touch pull ahead of Kindle?

On May 24th, this was my assessment of Kindle vs Nook 2 -

With Nook 2, B&N has left the Kindle behind and temporarily won the Kindle vs Nook contest.

With a Nook 2 now in hand, that feeling is confirmed. Consumer Reports has also handed Nook 2 its Editors Choice award.

Have a pretty major Kindle vs Nook vs Kobo mega-review lined up. However, the early findings from that research only add to the raison d’etre for this post, i.e.

Pointing out that Amazon’s complacency is becoming a major drawback. Nook Touch pulled ahead of Kindle primarily because Amazon has become very complacent.

This is going to manifest in other ways. Consumer Reports listing Nook Touch as their #1 choice is a very big warning sign for Amazon to wake up and get both a Kindle 4 and a Kindle Tablet out. And more importantly – to realize that it hasn’t already won the eReader and eBook Wars.

Is Amazon really getting complacent?

If you consider individual areas in isolation it doesn’t seem that way. However, combine all the data points and it paints a pattern -

  1. Amazon didn’t really react to Sony Reader Touch Edition (the newer version that used IR for touch and didn’t mess up readability). Whereas Sony messed up pricing and gave Amazon a breather, B&N was aggressive on pricing and stole the #1 eReader crown from Kindle. Basically, Amazon has known for 6+ months that a touch based eReader could beat it, but it hasn’t reacted.
  2. Amazon hasn’t been aggressive with technological improvements in eReader screen technology. It could have pushed eInk and Qualcomm and Pixel Qi to develop screens faster – As far as we know, it hasn’t.
  3. Amazon hasn’t done much since Kindle 3 came out. Kindle 3 totally destroyed the competition – But what have we had since then? Sponsored Screensavers? A Promise of Library Book Lending? Pretend Lending? None of these are game changers (the promise isn’t a gamechanger – regardless of how important the feature itself is).
  4. Amazon has let the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX 2 be ignored. Why aren’t all the software improvements in Kindle 3 added to these devices yet? It’s over a year since Kindle 3 came out.
  5. Amazon has assumed that its ‘devotion to reading’ means it can get careless in other areas.
  6. Amazon hasn’t responded to the colossal threat of the Nook Color.
  7. Amazon has become complacent with the Kindle App Store. It was in Beta in January 2011 and it’s in Beta in June 2012.
  8. Amazon is trying to find shortcuts – Building an Amazon Android App Store is potentially a good one; Depending on Apple for casual readers is potentially a bad one. Shortcuts don’t really work in the long-term.
  9. It had, at some level, assumed that B&N would just die and disappear. It didn’t plan for the contingency that B&N would find hidden reserves of strength.
  10. It had, at some level, assumed the fight was over. It had also assumed that the fight wouldn’t morph into something else (for example, Reading Tablets vs eReaders). Basically, Amazon was 100% unprepared for the Nook Color.
  11. It’s acting with the belief that incremental improvement by itself (without major leaps forward) is enough.
  12. Amazon is cutting ties with affiliates in various states even though B&N and Google are both making a major affiliate push. This is going to become critical down the line because websites will start sending people to Google to buy books (instead of to Amazon).

While there is still a lot that Amazon is doing right, it is making a lot of mistakes. All of the mistakes stem from the same thing – The complacency engendered by a feeling that the battle was won once Kindle 3 was released.

Amazon, quite frankly, expected/hoped Kindle 3 would be a death blow for B&N and Sony and would end the eReader Wars. It didn’t because Nook Color saved B&N and gave B&N the belief to launch Nook 2.

Why would you slow down when you’re ahead?

Amazon had the Kindle 3, it had all the momentum, and it had a fledgling Kindle App Store that it could have potentially turned into the sort of advantage that made the iPhone a monster and made Facebook the defining social network.

Instead, it’s done little in the last 1 year. It makes no sense – All it had to do is push hard and hit $100 last Holiday Season and release a Kindle Tablet last holiday season and release a Kindle 4 in February 2011. It would have extended its lead and pretty much wiped out B&N.

Now it’s created a monster – A B&N that is hardened from the pains of near-bankruptcy and battle-tested from its experience of surviving as the fringe #2/#3 eReader maker. Kobo too is turning into a little Godzilla with its ridiculous ability to keep up with billion dollar companies.

How could Kobo come this close to Kindle?

At this early stage of my experience with Kobo Touch and Nook Touch, there’s a very simple question I couldn’t answer -

Is Kindle at least better than one of them?

That’s a scary thought. Both Nook and Kobo have pulled so close to the Kindle that you can’t tell in 15 to 20 minutes which is the best eReader. That means – Everyone making the Kindle vs Nook vs Kobo purchase decision will be confused.

How can the clear #1 eReader company let the #2 company beat it? How can it let the #4 company pull so close?

When Publishers brought out the Agency Model and killed Amazon’s ability to compete on book prices – It should have focused on every other area and won all those battles. It hasn’t and we’re beginning to see the consequences.

Where is the Kindle Book Deals section?

Kobo hands out coupons like its Groupon. B&N has a clear section for Bargain Books. Amazon has done only two things – run a Sunshine Deals promotion in June and run a short-lived Kindle Deal of the Day promotion in January.

That’s just not enough. If Publishers have taken away your ability to cut prices, then at least build up a deals section and compensate to an extent.

Incremental Improvement cannot beat Leaps in Technology and Thinking

You could joke that the only reason Kindle doesn’t have touch yet is that there was no incremental way to get to a touch screen from the Kindle 3. Except – it probably is the real reason Amazon never added in touch.

You improve every area of the Kindle 10% and it adds up to a big gain. The problem is that there’s a competitor who improved its device’s user interface 100% by replacing a kooky eInk-LCD dual screen design with a simple touch eInk screen. It then improved its battery life 100%. Add up a few big jumps like these and 10% incremental improvements can’t compete.

At some point Amazon needs to add huge jumps. Things like Color and Touch and full-blown features – as opposed to 15% better this and 20% better that.

How difficult is it to make Custom Screensavers?

The two biggest pain points for Kindle owners (apart from the really big stuff) have been Folders and Custom Screensavers. Amazon took 2 years to add Folders and still hasn’t added custom screensavers.

Even Kobo Touch beats the Kindle’s Dead Authors Society by using the book cover as the screensaver.

How many more warning signs does Amazon need?

Here are a few -

  1. August/September 2010 – Sony releases the IR touch powered new Sony Reader.
  2. December 2010 – Nook Color comes out and creates the Reading Tablet market. Selling nearly a million units a month.
  3. January 2011 – Both B&N and Kobo start talking about 1 million+ customers and 1 million+ books sold in a day.
  4. Early 2011 – Apple does its whole ‘pay us 30%’ dance.
  5. June 2011 – Consumer Reports gives Nook Touch its Editor’s Choice Award.
  6. June 2011 – Kobo, a small start-up, releases a touchscreen eReader before Amazon.
  7. June 2011 – In 2 months Nook App Store is up to 254 apps.

The warning signs are coming up faster and faster. Whatever room for complacency Amazon earned with the release of the Kindle 3 – it disappeared long ago (in 2010 itself). Now Amazon is just surviving on momentum. It’s probably got 6 months left to turn things around. If Nook Color 2 is as impressive as Nook Color (and as much of a jump), and if iPad 3 launches in October, then Kindle Tablet won’t have the ‘guaranteed hit’ Christmas Season Amazon is probably counting on.

Most interesting is what Kindle vs Nook will look like for the rest of 2011. Firstly, it’s now Kindle vs Nook vs Kobo – which should be very worrying for Amazon. Secondly, Amazon is no longer a clear 1st choice – It isn’t even the 1st choice. If Amazon doesn’t have a Kindle 4 lined up for second half of 2011 then $99 might be its only savior.

30 Responses

  1. Re: the comparison and my personal experience:
    1. I still like my Kindle 3 wifi+3G. I’m traveling in Europe, and I like being able to use its basic browser wherever (almost) I am – for free. Nook and Kobo still couldn’t do this, right? I can check my gmail, google, and even find directions from point A to point B if I needed to.
    2. I used a Sony PRS-950 before, and did like the touch screen. I (and my husband) found the Kindle’s clinking sound a bit loud and stiff. But, I’d rather have 3g and web access instead if I had to choose between the two.
    3. I like black and white (which I find easier on the eyes) over color. I’d even still prefer black and white for web surfing. Again, it’s personal preference.
    4. The only things I’d like Kindle to improve are a), faster web browsing and b) multi-level folder.

  2. So, I now realize why you suggested I buy Nook Touch instead of Kindle 3 (or wait for Kindle 4). Okay, I get it now. But, what if Amazon brings Kindle 4 in July before school starts? Should one wait till the summer? If there is Kindle 4 (almost like Nook Touch plus better) then we all will be eating dust saying Amazon is lazy, right? Or, your inside knowledge says that K4 is not happening till mid-to-late Fall and KT before Christmas. So, go with NT…

    • I have ZERO inside knowledge.

      At any given point of time you can choose:

      1) Buy the best available device.

      Or

      2) Wait 4 months and buy the newer improved device.

      You just have to decide if you want to keep delaying the joy of owning an eReader.

  3. I was waiting for a Kindle tablet as my 2nd Kindle, but with the special offer Kindle, I’ve almost got it paid for in offers. I also bought it at B. Buy when they gave u a $15 G/C which brought it down to $99. Why wait?

  4. Very interesting and informative post. I especially found your compiled list of point that seem to show Amazon got complacent (in the ereader area) to be most insightful.

    I did get a Kindle 3 when the price came down to $139, but when the Color Nook came out, I bought one right away because as much as some people rave about e-ink, I dislike it. I don’t like the time-lag for each page to refresh and I do like reading on an LCD screen better–not only is it fast to turn pages, but the contrast between the black print and white background is easier for me. It’s also pretty convenient to read in bed with the lights out with the LCD screen. I do have the Kindle cover “with light” but the light isn’t very bright and doesn’t shine equally on the entire screen. So, now I rarely use the Kindle, but do use the Color Nook on a daily basis.

    I think if Amazon came out with a tablet reader, I would be interested because I like their website for buying books, but until then, I’ve really lost interest in them.

  5. “When Publishers brought out the Agency Model and killed Amazon’s ability to compete on book prices – It should have focused on every other area and won all those battles.”

    No, it should have assaulted the Agency Model in every possible venue – in the courts, with government regulatory agencies (both in the US and abroad), in the court of public opinion. It should have determined which of the Big 6 was most vulnerable and pounded it mercilessly, because once one of them cracks they’ll all follow. Amazon’s greatest strength is their store; even people who prefer the Nook or Kobo will often admit that the Amazon shopping experience is vastly superior. Regaining control over e-book pricing is far more important than incremental improvements in the hardware.

    • That’s a very good point. It should have attacked the Agency Model in court. It wouldn’t hold up under scrutiny. In UK it’s already being investigated (or at least that’s what The Bookseller wrote about – that there are plans to check the legal standing of it).

  6. Even though I have a K3 3G and love the experience of reading on it, I also love touch and the functionality it gives a slate-type device. I was give an iPad 2 a few weeks ago as a gift and feel that Amazon has really missed the boat by not bringing out a tablet. I would have NOT purchased an iPad; I was waiting for Amazon or for the iPad 3, but now that I have it, it’s truly a great experience and a joy to use.

    I’m very disappointed that Amazon seems to have started out so well, actually defined an entire market segment and then rolled-over and played dead. What IS Jeff Bezos thinking? Does he seriously want to cede market share to his competitors, especially to competitors over which Amazon had a compelling lead?

    At this point I feel that barring some sort of sleight of hand regarding Mirasol or another miracle technology, Amazon’s lost their ability to compete. Apple is so far ahead of evrybody in tablets and the Nook and Kobo are battering down the castle gate. Fortress Amazon better act, and act fast. This coming holidaya season will be too late.

  7. The App Store is still in beta in June 2012? Can I borrow your crystal ball? LOL Seriously, other than that typo, excellent post.

  8. I got tired of waiting for Amazon to announce a tablet so I went ahead and bought an iPad. I love my Kindle 3 and no one feature of the Nook 2 is compelling enough to tempt me to switch but as you said, Amazon seems complacent regarding a device that will account for a projected 10 percent of its profits.

  9. I just wish Amazon would make an announcement now even if it meant waiting a couple months for delivery. Summer is a good time for product release because:
    a) good time to play with a new device for many families
    b) possible option for back to school purchase
    c) good for planning holiday purchases

    Waiting until autumn to make an announcement (or worse, release) is too late for tech. Even if they want to capture holiday spending these devices are expensive enough to warrant planning/saving for purchase, especially in this economic climate.

    • I totally agree with this. It so much helps consumers. People buy things in late summer to prepare for the coming year. Amazon could announce many things this June/July:
      – Discount for K3 with new software such as folders.
      – A fresh timeline for Lending Library.
      – Plans for new K4 (e.g., a week before Labor day).
      – KT will be ready for Amazon’s customers by first week of Dec.

      I mean, Amazon has to think fast. Jeff Bezos is a smart CEO. I cannot imagine why they are not doing things this summer. K3 price has no impact since Nook Touch. I cannot believe it. A smart company always responds to competition. What is going on at Amazon? I just don’t know.

  10. Sadly I agree with you that Amazon is getting complacent. I’ve been thinking about buying a DX2 but it looks like they have been ignoring it. The DX2 is their current model and the best for reading PDFs and yet the K3 has the best PDF software. Why isn’t the Kindle DX2 up ggraded to the software of the K3?

    Other things that have been bothering me:

    Several University test studies have shown that students prefer studying with dtb instead of Kindle because of how hard it is to flip around in an eReader. I think Amazon should make navigation as easy as possible: all books have chapter indexes, a way to jump forward or back 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 pages, and the scanning that is in the new Nook.

    Why have they completely ignored the children’s market? B&N is going after it with the Nook Color.

  11. I’d say Amazon is marshaling its forces for the Christmas hammer. But I don’t see the knock-out punch that looked possible before. I seen Nook and Kobo hanging around. But the big difference will always be–Nook and Kobo only sell media. Amazon sells tires, underwear, golf clubs, razor blades…

    good article

  12. I only recently purchased a Kindle 3, and I don’t see some of your points making sense in regards to portable e-readers. I don’t expect the Kindle 3 to function like a iPad, or other tablet- I expect it to be a fine reader of text with occasional graphics, which it does admirably. Color and touch interfaces on e-readers seem more like gold-plating than actually functional features- the side buttons are ideal for page turns, and a physical keyboard is much more useful on e-ink than having a touch interface on a slow response display. Perhaps I have a different perspective of what an ereader should do, but if I wanted tablet functionality, I wouldn’t have purchased a Kindle– its an ebook reader, and with Calibre, a very nice free newspaper/RSS reader.

    I did consider the Kobo, Nook and Sony- and none of them really suited what I had in mind as well for being effective for reading and low-intensivity writing at a low cost.

  13. Great post. Amazon really needs to get some information out there, and stop letting B&N run circles around them. They can reverse this, but Amazon needs to start trying.

  14. Three days after receiving my Nook Touch, I sold my K3 on eBay.

    Does Amazon need new reading devices? Certainly, and updates to the DX are criminally overdue.

    However, don’t overlook that Amazon can still make money selling e-books, even if the Kindle is no longer the best-available reader. All they would need to do is to offer e-books in your choice of formats, and they could stop selling the Kindle at or near cost.

    Since the Amazon/Kindle store is considerably superior to B&N or Kobo, their profits would likely increase…

    • I am puzzled by smart people who do this (that is, switch from K3 to NT). One question: How do your combine your e-library? The books you bought for K3, how to access these again? Will you buy these books again in NT?

      There needs to some guidance in switching e-readers. Any thoughts?

      • I suspect they strip the DRM from their Kindle books and use Calibre to convert them to ePub format. Then they can use them on Nook Touch.

  15. On the other hand, I think the Kindle 3 is still the best choice for European readers.
    Amazon seems to be the only company that cares (at least a little bit) about non-US costumers. Google eBookstore is currently unavailable to people located in Europe, and no information is given as to when this will change. It is very likely that the B&N store will never be expanded internationally. Kobo’s store lacks the newsstand for international customers.
    Also, support for library books isn’t really a game-changer in the old continent, since very few libraries (none that I know of) support the feature.

    Things will definitely change in the future, but for now the only viable option is to keep investing in Kindle ebooks, and this will make the transition to another ereader more and more difficult. Probably the eBook market here is so small that these companies don’t care, but I know several people with a Kindle (and I often see them used in public spaces, trains, etc…), and no one with other ereaders.

    These companies (Amazon included, which is not activating lending for international users for example) must have their good reasons to do what they’re doing, but I just fail to see them.

  16. Joe, on June 19, 2011 at 6:58 am said:

    Several University test studies have shown that students prefer studying with dtb instead of Kindle because of how hard it is to flip around in an eReader. I think Amazon should make navigation as easy as possible: all books have chapter indexes, a way to jump forward or back 5, 10, 25, 50, 100 pages, …

    Perhaps Amazon could encourage good formatting (like active TOCs and active chapter headings that one can skip ahead to) by offering a higher royalty rate for such books.

    It should add a feature allowing users to insert chapter markers (so they can skip ahead and back to them, when the publisher omitted them). It should also allow multi-page skips. (It used to, but removed it in the K3.)

    I worry that what Amazon suffers from in the Kindle software area is not just complacency but—worse—wrong-headedness. E.g., some decision-maker may have overcommitted himself to some design principle and started wielding it like a club.

    For example, perhaps he thinks that ‘feature-itis” is to be avoided at all costs (not necessarily true), or that advanced features don’t influence the buying decision—and that is why the features above haven’t been added.

    It’s true that a couple of features like those above wouldn’t influence much buying—but adding two dozen such features would give Amazon a long list of advantages that it could post/publish and crow about. THAT would make a noticeable difference in sales—and Amazon could do with such a boost now that it’s under pressure.

    Amazon may be suffering from a similar mantra-mentality in its hardware design as well. For example, it may have committed itself too much to mimicking the experience of reading a paperback book. This was a smart move in the early days, to gain traction with “book people,” but now that the eReader movement has got “legs,” it should consider reversing its thinking—or at least providing an alternative model that isn’t wedded to the portrait orientation of the book, but that utilizes the landscape mode of the netbook. If it did, it would provide a wider screen—one on which it would be easier to read web pages and PDFs—and a wider keyboard that would be easier to type on. (Ideally the screen would be nearly the width of the DX’s and half the height, using a hinge in the middle to make it compact.)

    A related mantra that is constraining Amazon might be the commitment to the Kindle’s not being a multi-purpose device. This made some sense in the early days, when Amazon had enough on its plate with creating an eReader. But (as I argued on Amazon’s discussion forum in the early days of the K1), the Kindle would be a failure unless it sold millions per year, because only that volume would create an e-Book revolution, which was what Amazon was counting on (IMO).

    There aren’t tens of millions of “serious readers” in the US. Therefore, ancillary features would be needed to make the Kindle a mass-market item. Two of the ancillary features I harped on most are still missing (the third is a more recent brainwave):

    1. The ability to create documents. (Notepad apps are a baby step in this direction, but they need more; in particular, they need an API giving them the ability to import a user’s in-book “notes” (and maybe some highlights).)

    2. The ability to send e-mails to others.

    3. The ability to wirelessly send created documents and e-mails to ones computer and even to ones printer (if it has a wireless connector). Useful for shopping lists, refrigerator notes, etc.

    IOW, Amazon should make a version that is a netbook alternative PLUS an e-ink reader PLUS an Amazon-integrated product, with all the good things that implies. Such a combo is what the mass market wants, even if it doesn’t know it now. It’ll suck up five million a year.

    PLUS, it’ll make a wonderful deal-delivery device. (E.g., it could wirelessly print out Living Social store-coupons immediately and conveniently (possibly onto a shipping label in a label printer).)

    • PS: When I wrote, “It’ll suck up five million a year,” I meant that the public would buy that many Net-Kindles on top of the K3 Kindles it’s buying now. (And would pay twice as much for them, given their additional features and physique.)

      PPS: Greater Net-Kindle compactness could be obtained by placing a keychord keyboard on the back, assisted by finger-loops. That would be a gamble, so it should only be a supplemental model. But it would be a nice niche to be in, because it could grow nicely.

  17. Interesting discussion. However, let’s keep things in perspective. Producing quality electronics is not something that happens overnight. When a company creates something like the K3, they hope to have it on the market long enough to recoup their R&D costs. Coming out with models too quickly sends the signal that today’s hardware is already doomed to abandonment, so you might as well just wait for the next model.

    When the K3 came out, people were writing epitaphs for B&N, and Amazon could do no wrong. Now we have the Nook Color and the Nook Touch, and we’re talking about Amazon being complacent or having their head in the sand. Do we really thing that Amazon is going to tell us everything they’re working on and every idea they’ve come up with? Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. The K3 is still a very capable ereader, and it’s linked to the best bookstore experience you can get. Sure, it doesn’t do everything the Nook Touch does, but the reverse is also true. I’m not scheming to find a way to abandon my K3 just because the NT is available.

    I do agree that Amazon seems to be really missing the boat on the DX. It’s inexcusable not to have a software update for that. If that is a harbinger of Amazon’s complacency, then perhaps they are heading for trouble. Otherwise, let’s dial back on the navel gazing and see what Amazon does next.

    • Bob Said:
      “The K3 is still a very capable ereader, and it’s linked to the best bookstore experience you can get. Sure, it doesn’t do everything the Nook Touch does, but the reverse is also true.”

      I agree. Andrys Basten has pointed out various ways in which the Kindle is superior, most recently the Nook’s lack of a Back button (apparently). Here’s a link to her relevant thread on her Kindle World blog:

      http://kindleworld.blogspot.com/2011/06/kindle-news-620-nook-touch-vs-k3.html

      “I do agree that Amazon seems to be really missing the boat on the DX. It’s inexcusable not to have a software update for that.”

      Here’s my guess: The Kindle development group is over-stretched and under-budgeted, so they’ve put their less-pressing projects on the back burner. The group may have had to go to “corporate” for several budget increases already, and may have been told, “No More!”

      The group should appeal to Bezos, citing extraordinary circumstances, and hire a couple more coders. They don’t have to be stratospheric “eagles” to implement lots of the software upgrades that Switch and I want; they would require only ordinary skill.

      “Do we really thing that Amazon is going to tell us everything they’re working on and every idea they’ve come up with? Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.”

      True. But the Kindle group has a history of dragging its feet on certain much-wanted and obvious software/firmware fixes, as Switch pointed out. And certain of Bezos’s statements can be interpreted as justifying a (wrong-headed and/or blinkered) “minimalist” and “book-mimicking” design philosophy.

      “Coming out with models too quickly sends the signal that today’s hardware is already doomed to abandonment, so you might as well just wait for the next model.”

      That’s a concern with an expensive computer, but not so much with an EBR that’s under $150. And used EBRs sell well on eBay because they don’t degrade the way PCs do, lacking moving parts (i.e., no disk drive) and not involving a lot of money risked. Or used EBRs can be given to relatives, so they aren’t really a loss.

      Too-quick development is only a problem if the company is developing models that are only meant as successors to the previous models. Instead, it ought to be developing differently targeted niche-models, in parallel. E.g.,
      • a model for kids,
      • a mini-sized front-pocket model,
      • a touch-screen model,
      • a netbook-type model,
      • a color/tablet model like the Color Nook,
      • a video-streaming model
      —and all of them in low-cost, “Special Offer” variants.

      Thinking in terms of multiple niches makes sense. If, for example, 20% of current owners are looking to upgrade to a netbook-style model (see above), that’s three millions sales—and three million new customers acquired when these owners give their old models to their relatives, or sell them on eBay.

      “When a company creates something like the K3, they hope to have it on the market long enough to recoup their R&D costs.”

      Amazon has sold so many Kindles that it recouped its costs soon after the product was introduced.

      “Producing quality electronics is not something that happens overnight.”

      I have a very unobvious idea for an overnight hardware tweak to the K3 that would give it a “diagonal” (so to speak) comeback to the Nook’s touch screen. But Amazon will have to ask. I’m weary of shouting up a drainspout.

  18. Some easy this fix throu a firmware update
    — more fonts
    — custom screen savers
    — more font sizes
    — Faster page turns

  19. Is there a link to your “major Kindle vs Nook vs Kobo mega-review lined up”? Also, does your review take into account how these compare to iPad 2? Thanks.

    • Ali, no idea when I’ll get to that. I haven’t even seen an iPad 2 yet and won’t be buyong one to test.

    • I’m not Switch, and I don’t play him on TV, but I can address the issue of Kindle3 vs the iPad2. (though not the Nook, NookColor or the Kobo…0

      I purchased a a K3 3G last August, on the first day that they were available to order. I received one of the first batch to be delivered, and barring some firmware teething issues, have had a generally positive experience. Reading books on the K3 has been a great experience, far better for that purpose than the 7 or 8 PDA’s I’d used in the 12 years prior. The bigger screen, paper-like experience and ability to be read in bright light have made it a stellar experience. Also, the single-purpose device mission of the K3 has meant that when I’m using it for reading, I’m less distracted to do other things.

      That said, I was given a 32GB iPad2 (wi-fi) as a gift a couple months ago. Please keep in mind that I wouldn’t have BOUGHT the iPad, as I was waiting for the iPad3. However, using the iPad2 has been a good experience, but I would say that as far as reading goes, for a deep-immersive experience, the K3 is better. The iPad’s resolution is lacking, even though it is 768×1024 vs 600×800; eInk simply looks better on the page. For the size of the screen, the resolution of the iPad is a litlle course, and I find that (as a near-sighted person) I can’t read it without glasses (close) comfortably,l whereas I can with the K3.

      The iPad excels at using the web, the many apps that are available and anything where color is needed, which I suspect are also the strong points of the NookColor. I’ve found that the K3 3G, while an okay “emergency” web device, is not something I want to surf on. Also, PDFs, while implimented on the K3, are not nearly as nice on the Kindle as they are on the iPad; the implimentation and readability is simply superior on the color device.

      The iPad2, with the leather, magnetic cover, weighs about the same as the Kindle3 with the lighted, leather cover, which is the combo I have. However, the K3 in its cover is much easier to hold because it’s a more compact package and because the sharper edges of the iPad2 make it harder to hold: it works better in one’s lap or resting on a surface.

      The Kindle is far, far more readable outdoors than the iPad, but the iPad CAN be readable outdoors IF the brightness is turned all the way up, but there goes your battery life, which leads me to my last point:

      If I was going away on a vacation and could take only one of the two devices, I’d take the Kindle. The battery life of eInk simply cannot be beat by an LCD device. For trips I have an iPhone4 that will do everything (and more) that the iPad will do, albeit on a much smaller, but far superior (in terms of resolution) screen.

      I hope that helps a little. I’m sure that Switch can add volumns.

      Have a nice Independence Day (if you’re in the USA)

      Tony

      • thanks a lot Tony – that’s a great comparison. I haven’t used the iPad 2 but the iPad stacks up quite similarly for reading when compared to the Kindle.

        Also, much like you, I find the iphone to be far more convenient than the iPad. If one has an iPhone then the iPad becomes a bit of a luxury/non-necessity.

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