Flunking Sainthood

Flunking Sainthood

Which E-Reader Should I Buy?

KDX_and_K2.jpgIt’s time. It’s finally time! This fall, I am going to buy an e-reader.  I want your advice. Kindle or Nook? Or — wallet gulp — iPad?

I know a lot of book people believe in their stout paper hearts that digital books will never take the place of paper, but I think we’ve reached a cultural tipping point:

  • In June, Amazon announced that Kindle sales had surpassed hardcover sales in the second quarter of 2010.

  • Amazon is now selling three times as many Kindles over this time last year.

  • Google Editions will eventually make format considerations less significant, as ebooks will be available and not device-specific. It’s going to be like utopia! The anti-apocalypse! 
  • In 2009, a flat book year, sales of ebooks soared 176.6%, and the ebook’s overall market share grew to 3.3%. In 2010, will it have doubled or tripled again?

kindle.jpgEbook customers appear to be very satisfied, and are moving away from print. A quarter of those who have bought ebooks in the last year say they’ve purchased fewer print books; an additional 15% say they have stopped purchasing print titles altogether.


Here’s what I want:

  1. Ease of purchase. Kindle seems to take the prize here.
  2. Availability of titles. The Kindle again seems to have the advantage here.
  3. A color screen. This is where the Kindle falls short. But the iPad is hundreds of dollars more . . .
  4. Large screen, but weighs almost nothing. I’m just dreamin’ here.
  5. Can make julienne fries.

I’m flexible about the last one. Mostly, I want ease of use, durability, and something that won’t exacerbate the scoliosis I seem to be giving myself with all the hardbacks I carry around in my purse. What do you recommend?

  • Chris

    Wait until October (at latest). Then we’ll see a bunch of new tablets. Literally every computer company and 10 others you haven’t heard of having a bunch of reader/internet/tablet devices coming soon. Sit out for a couple more months and you’ll have a much better choice.
    For instance, I’m waiting for the samsung/android tablet, which is supposed to be announced any day now and available in September. But a bunch more will be on the way too. Just wait, it will be worth it.
    I’ll be buying it almost solely for scripture study. I’d like to take detailed notes/annotations while reading, as well as assign various verses I come across to a “label” so I can quickly have them on hand.

  • Jana Riess

    Thanks for that suggestion, Chris. This purchase probably won’t happen until October or November anyway. I’m just dreaming ahead.
    Speaking of e-readers and Scripture study, a friend of mine who was an editor at a Christian publishing house once fielded a curious complaint from a dissatisfied customer. She had downloaded their Bible version to her Kindle but was incensed that the words of Jesus weren’t in red as the good Lord intended. Apparently it had not occurred to her that red text would be a bit difficult on a black and white screen — LOL.

  • Ben S

    I’m mostly a cheapskate, and unlikely to use any of these soon. But as a Logos user and Apple cultist, I’m for the iPad.

  • John Hatch

    I went from a Kindle to an iPad and have no regrets. Keep in mind that the iPad is far more flexible than the Kindle, not just in a color-screen or web functionality. The apps allow it access to far more e-readers. Amazon has more titles…but there’s a Kindle for iPad app that works swimmingly. So if a publisher strikes some kind of exclusivity deal with Amazon, you’ve still got access to the book. Ditto on iBooks. Triple on the Nook, which also has an iPad app. When Google starts doing their books, it’s hard to fathom that they too won’t have a book app. So while this digital publishing thing is all sorted out over the next several years, you’ve at least got a device that has access to multiple proprietary formats.
    That said, the new Kindle looks phenomenal. If you really, truly, just need an e-reader and want to save some dollars, it’s hard to go wrong with the Kindle.

  • Christian Sorensen

    I have a Kindle and an iPad. I love them both dearly. So here are my thoughts:
    Skip the Nook altogether. In watching how things played out, B&N were so desperate to get something out there that they released a subpar product.
    One of the benefits of the Kindle is that it’s lightweight. The reading on it is fairly easy on they eyes as well, which is nice. Purchases are a breeze and can be done through the device itself or through the Amazon store online. I like that Whispernet is available (nearly) everywhere. (Although, I wonder if I understood things correctly with their new release that it will be WiFi or 3G and not Whispernet, which would then eliminate the one advantage it truly has over the iPad. Despite the proprietary nature of their file format that ties books solely to the Kindle, I find it easier to share books with the other members of my family. But that’s because we’ve connected all our Kindles and iPods/iPhones/iPads with Kindle apps to one account instead of individual accounts.
    In general, I recommend the iPad. This is primarily because of multifunctionality. For starters, in terms of readers, you can use apps for iBooks, Kindle, and Nook, which pretty much unlocks everything out on the market. There are other reading apps available as well (for example, I also have a Free Books app and a Shakespeare app). You can compare prices, though that seemed to level out in about two weeks of all three becoming viable on the market. You can also compare reading experience and make purchase choices that way. Personally, I prefer to read in iBooks because I like one of their fonts better than in the other readers. Yes, you are reading an electronic screen, which can be harsh on the eyes and some people really don’t like. But Kindle and now iBooks have a sepia screen option that, when combined with the brightness adjuster, allows for greater adjustment for reading. Reading outside can still be a bit of a problem as I find that the iPad overheats and shuts down if not reading under some shade.
    Anyway, those are my thoughts, and I’m more than happy to answer any additional questions you (or anyone else) might have.

  • Jack B.

    If all you’re going to do is read, go for the Kindle. The iPad gives you tons more functionality, but it is quite a bit bulkier and heavier than the Kindle. I love my iPad, but that’s because I not only read, I check email, browse the web, keep my to-do lists, and play some killer games on it. But it I were in the market for a reading-only device, the Kindle would win hands down.

  • NoCoolName_Tom

    Comparing an iPad to an eReader is really comparing apples to apple juice, or a Swiss Army Knife to a ginsu knife. While the iPad can do so much more than display books, to really compare it to an eReader you might want to look closer as how well the iPad can simply display books. eReaders have a _very_ low power usage and the batteries can last for weeks if the wireless capabilities are only used when needed and not left on. Also the e-ink display is very much like newsprint and can be easily read indoors or outdoors but needs an external light source in the dark. The iPad can display both color and animation but has pitiful battery life in comparison. Basically, eReaders are what you’d expect from an electronic book (just throw them on the couch and they’ll still be there in the evening when you get back) and the iPad is a computer than you can read on but it’s not an electronic book.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    I have been considering the same kind of purchase. I am leaning toward something like an iPad (hopefully a cheaper version Coming Soon!), because it not only allows you to read, it allows you to write as well, and to access the internet (including your blog). I also note that much of my reading (Scientific American, Discover, First Things, National Geographic) is in magazines, and much of the information in those magazines includes color photos and diagrams and graphic art, which a Kindle or Nook simply can’t do.
    I also think that someone in the publishing field like yourself would be able to take advantage of the other iPad apps when you are traveling, such as access to maps and restaurant information, locations of bookstores, watching a movie on the plane, etc.
    The power of an iPad is enough for a day’s use; I already recharge my cell phone as part of my bedtime routine, so I don’t see adding an iPad as a bother.
    Finally, as to cost, don’t you get to write off buying an iPad as a business expense, given your profession?

  • Ted Olsen

    One thing I’m wondering about in the industry is what these e-readers will do to review copies. Will publishers start sending out advance copies in epub format? As .AZW files? I’ve received some books in PDF format and Word files and, frankly, they’re not cutting it yet on the iPad and are far worse on the e-ink readers (which take a second to turn each page). It takes much longer to skim through an e-book and get the sense of it than it does with galley proofs or paper ARCs. How can the industry leverage this technology to a) save costs and b) make the advance copies work well for the people they want attention from (i.e. people who have to look at at bajillions of books with review potential)?

  • Dan

    For those of you completely ignoring the nook, you should think again. The nook does a fairly decent job of formatting PDF files for its reader. I have demonstrated this to a number of friends and they are convinced that in the eInk space this does a better job. Here are some other positives:
    – nook is based on the open sourced Android operating system.
    – Books can be acquired from other sources than just the default eBook store (B&N). Sony’s, Adobe Digital Editions, and any other provider that uses ePub as their format can be purchased and loaded to a nook. Kindle just allows access to eBooks from the Amazon store.
    – Adobe Digital Edition and ePub library books from the popular Overdrive service can be loaded easily to the nook for up to three weeks at a time. FREE!!! Not on a Kindle.
    – You can use a nook at any Barnes and Noble and read entire eBooks without purchase for an hour on many titles. Samples are always available on all books just like Kindle.
    I think there is a place for both the Kindle and nook. Just simply dismissing the device without knowing of its capabilities limits choice to those investigating. For me, nook was a no brainer since I love getting books from the library (BTW…you never have to step foot into that library to check out books!!!)
    I do agree with the comment that the nook/kindle is a reading device only. This does not replace an iPad if you want that level of functionality.
    Happy eReading!!!

  • SteveP

    I have an ipad and a kindle, and like the kindle better. It’s significantly lighter and I can read it outdoors in sunlight, the ipad can’t be seen in outdoor light. Still like real books better, but when I travel I can have a library with me with no added weight. The Ipad can read all my kindle books, so for night or dark plane reading, the back-iit ipad is nice. Personally, I find the ipad not very useful. I like my laptop better as a computer in almost every way. But maybe I just haven’t found out what to do with it. When I first got the ipad I thought I’d never use my kindle again. The reverse has turned out to be true. If I could only have one (as a book reader), I’d keep the kindle.

  • Christopher Bigelow

    I’m concerned about the effect of screen reading on my eyes, which seem to suffer from reading on my small iPhone screen, on which I use eBook software. Are the non-backlit Kindle and Nook better for the eyes than the backlit iPad? If so, that’s probably the deciding factor that would make me spring from an e-reader, if I can use it for hours at a time with no more eye strain than a paper book.

  • Brian

    Christopher, I have a Nook and it doesn’t bother my eyes at all. It’s not much different than reading a page out of a book, in my opinion.

  • Sanford

    I read books on my netbook using Kindle for PC and like it ok but I tend to get distracted and search the web or read blogs like yours or check my email. I sort of think a stand alone Kindle is the way to go because all you do with it is read — just like a real book. An Ipad is not like a book. It is many many things. A Kindle seems to better mirror the experience of reading a book. I hope you will report back on your experience because I am struggling with the same decision. PS Love your blog.

  • Rachelle Lopp

    I cannot rave about my iPad enough. I am not a gadget person, but my iPad is used every day and so worth the extra money. I was afraid to give up on ink and paper, but I love to read on it- I have the full Amazon/Kindle arsenal available for it, as well as Apple/iBook. It is easy, comfortable, and unlike the Kindle its lit screen means I can read at night with the light off (so my husband is happy).
    I also use it for so many things I never thought besides reading- that is something Nook or Kindle can’t help you with. Netflix, games, surfing the web, tracking the stars in the night sky… whatever interests you there’s an app for it.
    Good luck with your decision.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Me not u


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