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Kindles vs. Nooks

Emails wondering about Amazon’s Kindle(s) or Barnes & Noble’s Nook(s) have been rolling in lately, so I’ll try to save you from the inevitable “BUT JESSICA, WHICH ONE DO I WANT?!” meltdown with a very basic run through of your options here.
The question that ultimately comes up after accepting that these are all e-readers that won’t perform or look exactly like an iPad (or miscellaneous tablet of your choosing) is: So… which one is better? I’m going to save you time, right now! There is no clear winner. Each can be useful to a person — it depends on whether you’re looking to save money or have a clean and easy book reading experience or want to read your books and play games/videos/browse the internet too.


First, let’s go with the much anticipated tablet readers.

The Kindle Fire ($199) vs. B&N’s Nook Tablet ($249)

First, there’s price. It’s only a $50 difference! So what do you get for $50 with the Nook? Almost double the storage space of the Fire. The Nook boasts 16GB storage AND a MicroSD slot for expansion up to (I believe) 32GB. The Kindle Fire offers 8GB and two of those are eaten up by the OS immediately. If you want to store photos, music, videos — basically anything other than a book — on your e-reading tablet, you’ll want the Nook. If you intend to simply stream video, read books (the Cloud service is just fantastic on the Fire), play games and browse the internet, the Kindle Fire will be more than perfect.

Both have access to the Android app market, but not full access. In this case, the Fire is the clear cut winner. Amazon has many, many more apps available in their marketplace and while I’m sure the Nook will catch up eventually, it’s nowhere near it right now.

They both have 7-inch screens with almost identical display resolutions. (I think the Fire is 1ppi less than the Nook which almost isn’t worth mentioning, except I just did…) The Fire is a bit lighter and slimmer than the Nook overall and, personally, I like its fancy black casing better. Purely a matter of opinion there.

Basically, I call this a toss up. While I own a Kindle Fire, I can see the merits of the Nook. But because I have other options for storing things like music, pictures, etc., I don’t need the extra space. I realize I’m not using this toy for anything other than a fancy book reader and Fruit Ninja slicer, so saving $50 is saving $50. For me.

Did that help? Hope so.

Now, onto the others! Amazon has the $79 Kindle, a small and bare bones reader than they claim fits in your pocket, but I think it depends on the size of your pocket. You’re getting what you pay for here. It’s not frilly or fancy; it’s an utilitarian book reader and it’s absolutely PERFECT for that price. Next, the $99 Kindle Touch, which is a bit more advanced than the Kindle with it’s fancy touch display and text-to-speech features, but both are WiFi only connections.If you’re looking for 3G connection to get books anytime you want, basically wherever you want, you’ll want to pay attention to the $149 Kindle Touch 3G. It has all of the features of the regular Kindle Touch, but with the capability to get you a book without any contracts or fees anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. I love the 3G thing, and wish the Kindle Fire had that capability as well. You’ll appreciate being able to download a book whenever you want. Trust me. You also have the option to get the $139 Kindle Keyboard 3G, which is essentially the same thing as the Touch, just a little bigger and uh, you don’t have to touch anything. (There’s also a WiFi only Kindle Keyboard for $139, but I don’t understand why you’d opt for the one that won’t get you books all the time) I have one of the first incarnations of the Kindle, and this is what it most resembles now, minus the “Whispernet” connection. Remember: all of these are very utilitarian options, no color displays or anything fancy, just books on the go, and they’re perfect for that!

Onto the Nooks!

This part will be a lot easier. There’s only three! First, there’s the $99 Nook Simple Touch, a black and white bare bones sort of reader, which is extremely similiar to the Kindle Touch and just as easy to use. For me, it’s a toss-up. If you have the luxury of going to try them both out at a store — do it! Maybe one feels better in your hand than the other. Both boast the “best” E Ink technology and both have 6” displays. The Nook is a little fatter. That’s about it.

Then we have the $199 Nook Color. It has an 8GB internal memory and capability for expansion, has limited access to the app store, and, according to the website, will have Netflix and Hulu streaming “coming soon.” (no idea on the specifics of the “coming soon” timeframe)  In my opinion, the Nook Tablet sounds like it’s going to be the better of the Nook options for only $50 more.

So, which is the best? For me, the Kindle Fire was the best option because I like to waste time on mindless games and keep lots of books on the Cloud service to re-download on a whim. I’m not sure there’s a clear cut winner here, except in storage capacity. Of course, there are other options out there, but I think these two brands are going to dominate the market. Naturally, if you want a bigger screen and lots of apps, get an iPad. You can get the Kindle app there and make it a giant e-reader.


As usual, find me on Twitter, comment here or send me an email at [email protected]!

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  1. patti raso says:

    This informatio
    n has been helpful;especially as a newbe

  2. Kris Fruin says:

    This is to Joe Anon re his comment on the Kobo Touch.

    I received this for Christmas this year and I like it. My thoughts on ‘Why No Love for the Kobo Touch?’ It’s Canadian and doesn’t have the visibility / presence in the US yet. Market share here in the Great White North is 35% for Kobo and maybe 5% in the US. The Kobo presence is a bit more pronounced in the UK, France, Australia and Japan, but until they start targeting the US, it will not even show up in many of the comparisons with Nook / Kindle.

  3. Sam Brown says:

    Are not the cheaper Kindles ad supported? Or did I just make that up?

  4. Jessica Barton says:

    The reason I chose to review the Kindles and Nooks for this article, and none of the other e-readers, is that 9 out of 10 questions I’m asked are about these two brands. But I think Kobos are just dandy and even the Sony EReaders have a nice display, so it’s really up to you! Shop around, feel them out. You might love something not mentioned here!

    Eva: I can definitely get behind the indie sentiment! Although Amazon does make it fairly easy to put your self published content up for their e-readers. (Here’s a link, in case anybody’s wondering: )

  5. Joe C says:

    I’m with Eva here. The proprietary .azw format of the Kindle and lack of Kindle .epub capability was a huge factor in choosing a nook over a Kindle. Although Caliber allows for easy conversion of files to your chosen format, its one less hoop to jump through for a lot of the indie and small press content.

  6. Eva says:

    As an indie bookseller, I lean all the way towards the nook mostly because it isn’t subject to vendor exclusivity like the kindle is. Instead of being pigeon-holed into buying from one brand only, you can choose where your money goes and who you choose to support. While brick and mortar stores might not ever sell as many e-books as Amazon or B&N does, at least with the nook (and google books), indies get their chance to be a part of the market!

  7. Thanks for comparing readers. Right now, I read all e-books using the Kindle app on my iPhone. With the holidays approaching, I’ve been thinking about getting my wife an e-reader. (And, ya know–why stop at just one?) I think you sold me on the Kindle Fire for my wife, and something more basic for me.

  8. Leah says:

    I have a first gen nook 3G and I love it. I use mine 100% for reading and therefore want nothing to do with the nook color, tablet or kindle fire. I chose a nook over a kindle purely because I wanted to in some way still support brick and mortar bookstores.

  9. courtney says:

    so, let me get this straight. I have a 4th gen Kindle and it has free connection to the book store anytime, through AT&T cellphone towers. The new Kindle’s don’t have that unless you pay the extra money for 3G?

  10. joe anon says:

    Why no love for the KOBO touch.the ad version.It has the most compatibility for formats, EPUB, PDF and MOBI,CBZ and CBR.Image viewing. l like to read comic books in CBR, browser is better than nooks and font extensible. landscape pdf support with zoom. and microSD slot which the kindle does not have. The VOX may not be worth it but the touch is a really good reader.

  11. ren says:

    I have a Kindle and an iPad and it’s worth noting that the e-Ink is really so much easier on the eyes if you are doing a lot of reading.

  12. Robin Burks says:

    I’m perfectly content with my first generation Nook. If I’m using a device for reading, e-ink is the only way to go. It’s much easier on eyes, especially if you sit and read for hours like I do.

    However, I have test-drived the new Simple Nook e-reader and once my first-gen dies, that’s probably going to be the replacement.

  13. Lori-Anne Cohen says:

    While I am pretty sure that the Kindle Fire would be perfect for my needs (bigger Angry birds!), my heart longs for an iPad. I don’t need one, my heart is aware of this and simply has decided that it doesn’t care. It wants it. I do have a Kindle, the last iteration that came out with the keyboard and WiFi (it was a gift or I would have popped for the version with 3G). So, I’m still conflicted…I see the merits of the Fire and it would be useful but you know, iPad.