Friday, July 15, 2011

Kindle vs Nook Part 2 - Dead E-Readers Tell No Tales

My relationship with the Nook e-reader has been love/hate, with slight leanings towards hate in recent months.

You see, the Nook was the first e-reader I ever owned, having pre-ordered the original device (now dubbed Nook 1st Edition) before it hit the market in November of 2009. Upon release, I was in love with the device and all its bells and whistles. (Nerd alert.)

The screen quality was nice and sharp. The illuminated color touch screen was a pleasant way to navigate the menus. It had WiFi and free 3G, which I used liberally to buy new e-books while traveling. Barnes & Noble had a shared Wish List on the device and on their web site, so no matter where I added a book to my Wish List, I could see and buy it from anywhere. The Nook had a web browser, audio capability (presumably for listening to music while reading), games, and more. It looked like the honeymoon would last forever.

And then the problems started.

It began with a strange ticking noise emanating from the Nook whenever it was plugged in for charging. Not only that, but during charging the device would get unusually warm. That's normal when a battery is being charged, but this was a few degrees above normal. A phone call to tech support confirmed my fears that there were reports of overheating batteries. They swapped my Nook out overnight and I was up and running once more.

However, about a month later, the same monster reared its ugly head, and this time I took the Nook back to my local B&N store. The staff there--always friendly and helpful--immediately swapped my Nook out for a fresh one. But it was on the drive home that something tugged at my mind: I was really busy with a new project at work, and I was barely using the Nook as it was. After repeated problems with the device I decided to sell it.

It took less than an hour to find a buyer on Craigslist. Ah, the joys of Internet commerce.

Fast forward a year, to just last month. After enjoying my Kindle immensely, it occurred to me that I had about $100 worth of e-book purchases collecting digital dust on my B&N account--books I was very interested in reading now that I had the time.

(Note: I know many e-reader owners only buy books when they're ready to read them. But the truth is that there are a lot of sales and promotions on e-books all the time, and you can save quite a bit of money buying books when they're on sale, knowing you will read them eventually. For example, I picked up the first four books of George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series for $3-$4 each, and those same e-books now sell for upwards of $8-12 each due to the series' soaring popularity.)

This dilemma revealed another ugly reality of e-readers: Digital Rights Management and proprietary e-book technologies. I couldn't simply download my Nook books to my Kindle; the technology doesn't work like that. If I wanted to read those Nook books, I was left with two choices: re-buy them on my Kindle... or just buy another Nook.

Barnes & Noble had just released the Nook Simple Touch, a smaller, lighter Nook that forsook many of the features of its predecessor, but added a few more. The result was that prices on the Nook 1st Edition had dropped. But given my problems with the Nook 1st Edition, I was leery of buying another one, and preferred the updated tech that was part of the Nook Simple Touch. What to do?

The decision didn't take long.

So is the Nook Simple Touch a great e-reader? How does it stack up to the Nook 1st Edition? or the Kindle with Special Offers? Which device do I prefer, and why? All will be revealed in the finale, Kindle vs Nook Part 3 - The Right Touch!


  1. That's why I like the iPad - I can download Kindle and Nook books, and quite a few others, with the use of a free app.
    Were the books you purchased on the Nook on your computer or simply not downloaded yet?

  2. I could have read them on the computer, but I spend enough of my day staring at an illuminated screen as it is.