Monday, May 30, 2011

3271 nookindle

Monday, May 30, 2011

"Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute."
-- Josh Billings --


For a little while now I've wanted to buy one o' them newfangled e-reader thingies. Nook or Kindle, Kindle or Nook? I knew nothing about them, didn't know which was better, each have their adherents, and besides, they're always coming up with "improvements" and next generations, and maybe I should wait until the dust settles a bit. And the cost is significant. If I make the wrong choice and end up disliking it, I'd feel worse.

Well, last week, before getting the news of Hal's tires, back when I was feeling flush, I came across a deal I couldn't resist. Two different websites were having competing one-day sales of reconditioned e-readers, the most recent model (there are new models coming out now), one the Barnes & Noble Nook and the other the Amazon Kindle, each for about 1/4 the list price. I could get both for 1/2 the price of either one new.

It's been my experience that reconditioned is generally as good as new, pretty much the same rate of problems, especially since a large portion of "reconditioned" had nothing more wrong with them than buyer's remorse, so how could I not?

The Kindle arrived Thursday, and the Nook on Friday.


The Nook's instruction book is easier to read, understand, navigate, and apply. The Kindle's instructions are less well organized, it's difficult to skip over functions you know you won't use, there are just too many options and functions, and too many esoteric terms that I'm sure the writers understood well, but are Greek to us neophytes. Nook's technical writers win.

On the other hand, to do all the things *I* want to do with it, with the Kindle everything is pretty much intuitive. The way the onscreen menus work, I don't need more than one pass through the basic instructions. With the Nook, I often stare at the blank screen thinking, "Now how do I get to xxxx?", and I have to go to the instructions. Kindle's usability people win.


Nook has a touchscreen keyboard, which is ok, except that it wants SKIN ONLY. You can't use a pencil eraser, or fingernail, or anything but skin. My fingernails are long. The squares for each letter are tiny. Using the side of any finger spills over to adjoining tiny letter squares. I finally resorted to folding my index finger and using the point of the knuckle, which hurts, and one out of four letters it spills over anyway. Not cool, Nook.

The Kindle has a permanent button keyboard. The key buttons are tiny, but at least I can press them with my fingernails, which is how I usually type. I think Nook's thinking is that most people won't use the keyboard that often, so why waste space on one.

Kindle wins usability of keyboard.


The Nook has a touch screen at the bottom where all the menus appear. That's similar I guess to a smart phone.

The Kindle has buttons instead. There are Home, Menu, and Back buttons, and a little toggle thingy that acts like a mouse and cursor. That's similar in operation to a browser and a mouse on a computer.

I guess which one prefers depends on one's familiarity, but I vastly prefer the Kindle arrangement.

Turning pages:

You can use Next and Previous buttons on the sides of both to turn pages in your book. One thing that's annoying about the Nook is that there are those little locator "pegs", tiny stick-up dots, on the page turn buttons. With the Kindle, the buttons are smooth, and you can locate them by the softer feel of them. I guess I'm like the princess and the pea. Those Nook locator dots HURT!

You can also turn pages on the Nook by swiping across the touchscreen at the bottom, but only when there's no menu displayed there, and it doesn't always work on the first swipe.

Kindle wins, even if it is "old" technology. Fancy isn't always better.

Downloading books:

They're both pretty much the same. You need an account on the (B&N/Amazon) bookstore website, register your device, provide a credit card, and you're ready to go. Both devices use wifi, and it's fast. I mean really fast. A 600-page book arrives in like a second or two. (Howcome I'm not getting that speed on my laptop?)

I was at first a little concerned because I have no wifi here. How will that work? Heh. Silly Silk. Apparently they use cell phone towers. It just works, period. And it's completely and totally free for books downloaded from the stores. On both devices people can send files (documents, photos) to your device's email address (, for example), and that does cost, charged to your bookstore account credit card.

Both stores have the usual library of books. I haven't explored what's available on B&N yet, but I discovered a slew of free classics on Amazon. Free! No charge at all. I've already downloaded 37 books - some Twain, Poe, Austen, Flaubert, Eliot, Christie, Wilde, and so on.

I've also purchased one book from each store, and that was pretty easy.

So, assuming B&N has some free books too, they're pretty equal there.

[Flash! Later edit - I went looking for free books on B&N. There are a bunch, but they are all in other languages, or things like "The history of the village of Rothugh", by the committee to promote Rothugh, ya' know? The same classics that are free at Amazon are about $1.99 at B&N. However, keep in mind that I haven't checked out the transcription quality of the free Amazon stuff yet.

The B&N website is a bit awkward to navigate. Like, there's a few "free books" links, but one gets you a 1500+ list of untranslated titles that you can't sort and have to scroll through 100 at a time, a second gets a list of books in English, at least, but they're all cheap bodice-rippers or sound rather dirty, and a third gets books selling for $7-8 (Free?), and another gets what they call "samples" - which appears to be an excerpt.

So, so far, the Kindle is ahead here, too, in website usability and really free books worth having.]


You can't read either of them in the dark, but you can't read paper books in the dark, either, so that doesn't bother me.

I've read both in the glider on the front porch in full sun, with no great difficulty. No glare.

Both allow you to change the print size and font. I'm fine with the defaults.


There is one problem, and I consider it a big problem. We know I like bargains. I'm used to buying hardcovers in the remainder bins in bookstores, and at yard sales, and at library sales of donated books, or getting them free from friends who have read them and are passing them on.

Other than the free classics, there will be no bargains in e-books. (They do both have a "lend" function, but you can lend a particular book only once, and for a limited time.) You have to pay their price, and I doubt there will be any "stock reduction" sales. No need.

On the other hand, the writers will do better. They get paid full contractual price for (almost) every reader.


Both devices are pretty much the same in any area I haven't mentioned. The Nook is a tad smaller in height and width, but it's thicker. Weight is about the same, as is screen size. Battery charges pretty quickly in both, and seems to last a satisfyingly long time.

Right now I prefer the Kindle. I find it more comfortable to use - with my long nails, tender thumb pads, and preference for buttons over touchpads.


Becs said...

My Kindle won't just latch onto any Wi-Fi available. Grr...

Becs said...

When you look for free books to download, check out the reviews. I downloaded a really miserable copy of Kim, which got poor ratings because of the transcription quality.

I read Uncle Tom's Cabin and found a few typos and because of the insistence on left-justification, some weird spacing, but it all worked out.

~~Silk said...

Yeah, Amazon warns that many of them had been transcribed by volunteers (probably for the Gutenberg Project), and I'm sure some were done by machine reading, but hey, free is free, and as long as pages aren't missing, I'll probably be happy anyway.

Ally said...

Just wanted to say thank you for the review. I finally pulled the trigger and got a Kindle (arriving this Friday!).