Kindle vs Nook Review 2010 – Nook Upgrade 3

It’s been exactly 6 months since my first Kindle vs Nook review and now that we have Nook Upgrade 3 out it’s time to review Kindle vs Nook one more time.

August 3rd Update: Please check out the Kindle 3 vs Nook review for a more up to date comparison.

The Kindle is $189 and available from Amazon and Target (most stores).

The Nook is $199 and available from Barnes & Noble and Best Buy.

Kindle vs Nook Review 2010 – Nook Upgrade 3 and Areas Nook Wins

The addition of the browser in Nook’s 3rd upgrade is a huge win for B&N . Areas Nook wins include –

  1. LendMe – For certain books B&N lets you lend them out once, for 14 days, to one friend. This feature got a lot of buzz – Keep in mind that it’s only allowed when publishers allow it though there seem to be some bestsellers that allow it.
  2. Nook Browser – The new nook browser is very good. It’s very usable for news, surfing, and supports Yahoo Mail Classic version. It only works over WiFi. 
  3. Internet is faster since it’s over WiFi. While you must have WiFi to use the browser it’s much faster than the Kindle’s 3G Internet.
  4. Library eBooks – Nook lets you read Adobe DRM protected ePub books from your library (if your Library uses OverDrive).
  5. 3.5″ color touchscreen – This supplements the 6″ eInk screen very well.   
  6. WiFi Support – Nook has 3G for the ebook store connection and WiFi for browsing (also for the ebook store when 3G isn’t available). 
  7. MicroSD card slot – This is a significant advantage if the 2 GB memory that comes with Kindle and the Nook isn’t enough for you.  
  8. ePub Support – In addition to Library ebooks this lets you read unprotected ePub books and protected ePub books from ebook stores that support Adobe DRM. 
  9. Custom Screensavers – Add your own photos as screensavers.
  10. Replaceable battery – The nook’s battery is replaceable although there are hardly ever reports of Kindle battery failures and Amazon replaces batteries for $80.  
  11. Better Screen contrast – A combination of slightly better screen contrast and the thin black border around the eInk screen make the Nook more readable. Amazon has improved the screen contrast since the Nook first came out and my new Kindle 2 International has almost as good screen contrast.
  12. 3 Available Fonts. The fonts are Amasis, Helvetica Neue, and Light Classic. Kindle has just one – Caecilia.

There are some additional features that you might consider advantages –

  1. Browse in Store – When in B&N stores you can read some books for free for up to an hour in a 24 hour time period. Don’t find this to be a significant advantage – if you’re in a store you can read any paper book for as long as you like.
  2. Lend Me – Listing this again as it might not be as big an advantage as B&N paint it to be. You can only lend a book one single time and to one friend only. 
  3. Support for Sony Store Books.  
  4. Retail Presence – You can go into a B&N or a Best Buy and try out the Nook. Strongly recommend trying out the usability and the weight before buying the Nook.
  5. Sudoku and Chess – Two free games that are good for passing the time.
  6. Nook Cover Flow – When looking at books you’ve purchased or browsing the Nook store you can browse books by their covers.
  7. Support for PDB  (it’s a format used by and ebook stores – both are owned by B&N).
  8. Free WiFi in B&N stores.

B&N have done a good job and the addition of the Browser makes the Nook very compelling. Have to wait to confirm the supposed fixes – it will take a few weeks to see how much better the Nook is behaving.

Kindle vs Nook Review 2010 – Areas Kindle and Nook are in a tie

Amazon and Barnes & Noble are both improving fast and that means they tie in several important areas –

  1. eInk Screen. Both have the same screen.
  2. PDF Support. Similar, poor PDF support – Note that the 6″ screens mean that PDFs must have larger font sizes to be readable.
  3. Agency Model Prices – Books from Agency Model Publishers are at the same price.
  4. $199 and $189 Price.
  5. Support across devices – both support a rich variety of devices. B&N eReader has apps for iPhone, Blackberry, PC, and Mac. Their app for iPad is arriving in May. Kindle supports PC, Mac, Blackberry, iPhone, and iPad.
  6. Multiple devices on one account – Amazon allows 6 devices on one account and you can read a book on up to 5 devices at the same time (6 for some books). B&N allows multiple devices and reading in parallel – not sure of exact numbers.
  7. One Handed Use – they’re both usable with one hand though the Kindle’s lighter weight and thinness make it easier to use.
  8. Size – The Kindle is thinner (0.36″ vs 0.5″ for the Nook) while the Nook is more compact (7.7″ by 4.9″ vs 8″ by 5.3″ for the Kindle). 
  9. Designer Covers. Kindle now has Cole Haan and Diane Von Furstenberg. Nook has Kate Spade and Jonathan Adler.

Probably missing some other areas they are both good at (eInk is good for reading in sunlight, etc.) – Luckily we’re contrasting the two and their differences are what we’re primarily interested in.

Kindle vs Nook Review 2010 – Areas the Kindle wins

Amazon has added a lot to the Kindle since the Nook was first announced – PDF Support, Kindle apps for PC and Mac, announcement of Kindle App Store, and more. The Kindle wins in lots of areas including –

  1. Ease of Use – The Kindle wins this hands down. It’s easy to use and lets you focus on the reading.
  2. Read to Me Text to Speech feature. Publishers have the option to turn this off but a lot keep it in. It’s also available for all your personal documents and all converted files (which means public domain books can be read out).
  3. Support for Audible audiobooks – Nook only supports MP3 audiobooks.
  4. Cheaper Prices for books from non Agency Model Publishers – Amazon has cheaper prices for ebooks that don’t fall under the Agency Model.
  5. Wider range of books – If you leave out public domain books the Kindle Store has far more books. All public domain books are available for the Kindle (and for nook) – Internet Archive and Gutenberg without conversion, Google Books you have to convert for the Kindle.
  6. Faster Page Refresh Speed – Page refreshes are still faster on the Kindle though Nook has cut the gap.
  7. Speed – The Kindle responds faster in general and having a keyboard makes a lot of things like adding notes faster on the Kindle.
  8. Lower Weight – The Kindle is noticeably lighter at 10.1 ounces. B&N lied about the Nook’s weight – it’s actually 12.1 ounces. 
  9. Battery Life – The Kindle has better battery life and lasts 2 weeks with wireless off and 1 week with wireless on. Nook lasts 10 days with wireless off.
  10. Free Internet over 3G connection – It’s very convenient to have free Internet. However, the connection is much slower than WiFi and Kindle’s browser is very basic.
  11. International Availability and International Usability – Kindle WhisperNet is in 100 plus countries and when you travel you’ll still have your connection to the store and for US owners free Internet too.
  12. Free Wikipedia Access all over the world. 
  13. Physical keyboard – This is surprisingly useful when taking notes and using shortcuts. Note that the keys are tiny and awkward – It is however easier to use than the Nook’s awkward touchscreen keyboard.
  14. More newspapers and magazines – Kindle Store has far more newspapers and magazines (a couple of months ago it was 100 newspapers to 20 newspapers).
  15. Screen rotation.

Open item to be updated after some more time with upgraded Nook –

  1. Kindle has very few bugs. Nook had a lot of bugs that are supposedly fixed in Nook Upgrade 3. Will only know after a few weeks.

Some other things you’d consider potential advantages –

  1. Longer return period. B&N only give 14 days for returns. Amazon give 30 days.
  2. More Font Sizes, Larger Maximum Font Size – The Kindle has 6 font sizes (1 more than the Nook) and the largest font size is larger on Kindle than on the Nook. Amazon have also said that in the middle of the year they’ll introduce a super size font which is double the size of the current largest font size.
  3. Option to change line spacing and number of words per line (width of each line).
  4. Forthcoming folders feature – Amazon have said that mid 2010 will see the introduction of a Folders feature.
  5. Support for .txt files and support for .doc files after conversion. Nook doesn’t support .txt which is strange.
  6. Stereo speakers – Better than the Nook which only has a mono speaker.

The Kindle has been evolving fast – adding support for a lot of devices, making the service better, making the software better.

Perhaps the biggest potential Kindle advantage is the Kindle App Store which is in Beta and might release sometime this year.

The Conclusion for 2010 – Kindle and Nook are almost in a tie

Kindle and Nook are very close – though the Kindle is a bit better in my opinion, Kindle vs Nook comes down to what particular features you’re looking for in an eReader.

The Nook is better in –

  1. 2 crucial areas – Browser, Library eBooks.
  2. 7 important areas – Screen contrast, LendMe feature, 3.5″ color youchscreen, WiFi support, MicroSD card slot, ePub support, 3 available fonts.
  3. 8 other areas – custom screensavers, replaceable battery, browse in store, support for Sony Store, retail presence, games, cover flow, free WiFi in B&N stores. 

The Kindle is better in –

  1. 3 crucial areas – ease of use, wider range of books, International availability/usability.  
  2. 7 important areas – lower prices on Non Agency Model books, free Internet and Wikipedia, text to speech, speed including faster page refresh speed, lower weight, more and larger font sizes, physical keyboard.
  3. 6 other areas – line spacing and words per line options, battery life, stereo speakers, support for audible audiobooks, wider range of newspapers and magazines, screen rotation.

Cheaper eBook prices was the #1 critical Amazon advantage and the Agency Model has reduced it to just an important advantage.

Two potentially crucial Kindle advantages are – the promised addition of Folders in mid 2010, (perhaps biggest of all) the Kindle App Store. However, these aren’t yet available so are not factored into this Kindle vs Nook review.

Kindle vs Nook comes down to what’s important to you – Consider the features from the above lists that matter to you and pick the eReader that’s better on those. At this point Kindle vs Nook is almost a tie and you have the deciding vote.

Kindle, Nook owner ages – noticeable differences

In April 2009, Stephen Peters compiled responses from a kindle forum thread discussing kindle owners’ ages and created a comprehensive break-up of Kindle Ownership by Age.  

What is the age distribution for Kindle owners?

Disclaimer: This was done in April 2009. It’s 1,387 responses and a self-selecting group.

The break-up by age of Kindle Owners was –

  1. 4.25% kindle owners between 10-19 – 59 out of 1,387. 
  2. 13.3% kindle owners between 20-29 – 185 out of 1,387.
  3. 15.7% kindle owners between 30-39 – 218 out of 1,387.
  4. 19.1% kindle owners between 40-49 – 265 out of 1,387.
  5. 21.2% kindle owners between 50-59 – 294 out of 1,387.
  6. 18.3% kindle owners between 60-69 – 254 out of 1,387.
  7. 6.6% kindle owners between 70-79 – 92 out of 1,387.
  8. 1.5% kindle owners between 80-89 – 21 out of 1,387.

This created quite a stir as numerous blogs and sites fixated on the fact that these numbers might mean that over 70% of kindle owners were over 40 years of age.

In case you’re wondering – Yes, the 70% figure is wrong – guess their ageist bias goes hand in hand with an inability to do simple math.  

Which brings us to Nook owners’ ages.

What is the distribution of ages for Nook Owners?

Disclaimer: This is based on a single Nook forum thread with just 111 responses and is probably a self-selecting group.

There’s a thread at the official Nook forum discussing Nook Owners’ age distribution. It’s just 111 responses and gives us –

  1. 7.21% Nook Owners between 10 and 19 – 8 out of 111.
  2. 21.62% Nook owners between 20-29 – 24 out of 111.
  3. 17.11% of Nook owners between 30-39 – 19 out of 111.
  4. 22.52% of Nook owners are between 40-49 – 25 out of 111.
  5. 18.01% of Nook owners are between 50-59 – 20 out of 111.
  6. 11.71% of Nook owners are between 60-69 – 13 out of 111.
  7. Just 1 nook owner between 70-79. That’s 0.9%.
  8. Just 1 nook owner between 80-89.

A noticeable skew towards a slightly younger ownership.

Researching the responses also threw up a very interesting observation –

Nook owners seem to be primarily women

There were 71 female respondents and 24  male respondents out of 95 who indicated sex (or whose name made it obvious). That’s 74.7% women.

Even accounting for higher use of social networks and forums by women that’s quite a skew. 

What differences are there between Kindle and Nook owner ages?

Well, there are some interesting differences –

  1. While 66.7% of Kindle owners seem to be over 40, only 54.04% of Nook owners fall into the same demographic.
  2. It is worth nothing that owners aged 40 and above are still the majority owners of both Kindle and Nook.
  3. 50-59 seems to be the largest demographic for Kindle Owners.
  4. 20-29 and 40-49 seem to be the largest demographics for Nook owners.
  5. Comparatively, a very small percentage of Nook owners are 60 and above.
  6. Comparatively, noticeably fewer Kindle owners are below 30.

It seems that the Nook is attracting a larger share of young people and scaring away readers over 60.

A few factors that might be the cause of this effect –

  1. The dual screens, especially the color LCD touchscreen, probably make the Nook attractive to the younger crowd and confusing/complicated to readers above 60.
  2. The heavier weight of the Nook probably rules it out for most people with arthritis.
  3. The better looks of the Nook probably sway younger readers more. This might also be the cause of the skew towards female readers for the Nook – nothing sexist – just that women are much more particular about appearance.

It’ll be interesting to see how Nook owner age statistics hold up as the number of responses increase. Once we hit 1,000 or so we’ll have more dependable numbers.

Some Nooks miss Christmas, $100 gift certificate apology

Barnes and Noble continue to mess up their Nook shipments and upset their customers – They are further delaying some Nook orders and those will miss Christmas.

Meanwhile the Kindle is in stock and Amazon has added on free 2 day shipping.

It’s a disaster for B&N.

What’s that I hear about a $100 gift certificate?

Well, here’s what’s happened.

Customers who had an original ship date of December 11th, are being told that –

  1. They might already have their Nook.
  2. If their date to receive the Nook was by December 18th, it’s now changed to by December 24th.
  3. If their date to receive the Nook was by December 22nd, it’s now changed to by December 24th.

That’s not as bad as customers who had an original ship date of December 18th (from official Nook forum) –

  1. B&N say most of these customers will receive their Nook by December 24th.
  2. ‘Some Customers’ fall into the twilight zone of perhaps getting their Nook by Christmas and perhaps not getting their Nook by Christmas. 
  3. Customers who miss out will be sent a $100 B&N gift certificate via email. 

Some customers have already gotten an email talking about this $100 gift certificate (the forum thread above, and The Consumerist).

People with original December 18th shipping dates might not get their Nook?

Yes, that’s certainly what it seems like.

There were three waves of shipping dates –

  1. December 7th – These Nooks are already out.  
  2. December 11th – These Nooks are either out or will reach by Christmas. 
  3. December 18th – Some of these are going to miss Christmas.

If rumors are correct and there were 400,000 Nooks shipped out in the first week, what might have happened is –

  1. The first wave used up all the Nooks available – supposedly 400,000 of them.
  2. The second wave, perhaps 100,000 to 200,000, is almost handled by B&N’s supply of Nooks for first half of December (perhaps).
  3. The third wave, perhaps 100,000 to 200,000 again, will be met to some extent – but B&N will need their supply of Nooks from 2nd half of December to handle all orders.

It’s interesting that B&N have said that they’ll definitely get Nooks that miss Christmas into users’ hands by December 29th.

What effect does this have on Kindle Vs Nook?

It’s unlikely that a significant number of people will pass on a $100 gift certificate and cancel their Nook orders – so perhaps not that much. 

  1. It does highlight that Amazon – thanks to 2 years of being sold out of Kindles for Christmas – were much better prepared and are probably laughing all the way to the bank.
  2. Let’s assume that 50,000 orders out of the 100,000 to 200,000 orders supposed to ship in the December 18th third wave (100,000 to 200,000 is another assumption) miss Christmas.
  3. B&N will be on the hook for $5 million in apology gift certificates.
  4. B&N are already losing money on Nook expenses (they cut their 2010 earnings estimates in their last earnings release citing Nook costs and other factors). This extra $5 million charge on top has to hurt.

It is, however, the right thing to do.

There would be a huge PR hit if they didn’t do this.

Even worse – all these people would almost certainly cancel their Nook orders and go buy the Kindle.

2-day free shipping for the Kindle means it arrives easily by Christmas.   

B&N think it’s worth $100 to keep a Nook customer and not let them become a Kindle owner – They’re probably off by a couple hundred dollars.