why i own a kindle and a nook

I've owned a Kindle for a year and a half, and I use it many times a day. (I won't say I love it – people who declare that they love inanimate objects creep me out – but I do like it.)

Much to the dismay of Amazon, however, I buy very few books. The main things I use the Kindle for are:

1) Editing. Instead of printing out multiple drafts of the things I write, as I used to, I now load the drafts on the Kindle, mark them up with comments, go back to the computer to make edits, and then go around again. It's wonderful for this purpose. (Later: Also, having the Kindle read drafts aloud to me with Text-to-Speech is invaluable for finding small glitches of various kinds.)

2) I get the New York Times every day. This is, by the way, the best way to read the Times every day – better than print and better than the web (the web is better for research – but the Kindle subscription includes full web access).

3) Books which are out of copyright are often available for pretty much nothing. The entire Sherlock Holmes canon, all of the Philo Vance novels, novels by Henry James, plays by George Bernard Shaw, all available for around a dollar or less (often for free). You can't beat that.

4) The included browser is fine for quick checks of email and approving blog posts.

But I did think, given how much I like the Kindle, that a real tablet might be good, too. So, I bought a Kindle Fire, which was a disaster.

It had two main problems. One was that the interface is badly designed. It was never possible to figure out which things on the screen should be tapped and which were just for show. Unfortunately, this went along with the other main problem, which was that the touch screen was terrible. So, I spent a lot of time tapping things and producing no results, never knowing whether the thing I was tapping unsuccessfully was not actually tappable, or whether the problem was the lousy touch screen.

So, this was pretty much my week with the Kindle Fire:


Tap tap.

Tap tap tap taptap TapTap TAP!

TAP!!! TAP!!! TAP!!!

[Muffled cursing]

So, I returned it and got my money back.

But a tablet was still appealing (there are advantages to a real browser, for one thing – the one in the Kindle is pretty much like browsing the web under DOS). And Barnes & Noble lowered the price of their Nook Color when the fancier Nook Tablet came out, so that it was the same price as the Kindle Fire.

So, I went to Staples and tried one, and I figured out more about it in a couple of minutes than I had about the Fire in a week. Plus the touch screen actually responded when you touched it. Nice.

So, I went to Barnes & Noble and asked the guy in the Nook store a few questions, and then I bought me a Nook Color.

It has disadvantages compared to what I'd hoped the Kindle Fire would be, since obviously it's not connected to all of my Amazon content, but it works and works well. I can browse the web, and load my own documents on it and edit them, and it even has an email client (which the Kindle Fire doesn't, though you can download one). You can upload and download files (which I never figured out how to do with the Fire). Some things are still tricky, but maybe I just haven't figure out how to do them yet.

The Nook Color will not replace my Kindle, though. For one thing, I'm a confirmed fan of e-ink. It's far easier to read for long periods than a computer screen. Also, the Kindle has a free 3G connection (beware: the newer ones restrict this), but the Nook Color only has wifi. But so far the Nook is quite satisfactory.

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4 Responses to why i own a kindle and a nook

  1. sonje says:

    I was an early adopter of the Kindle. I still have my Kindle 1 although it is now my partner’s because I got a new one and I am that kind of bitch. My one main complaint about the Kindle (this applies to virtually all e-readers, actually) was that the screen was too small. I missed the experience of a full book page worth of text. I didn’t like flipping from page to page so quickly. (Funny what things matter to some people and not to others.) So when the Kindle DX came out, I got that one, and the issue is nicely resolved. Don’t get me wrong, I could complain about other e-reader issues/inconveniences/limitations, but I won’t bother here.

    I also got an iPad when it first came out. I had all these big plans for it! I thought it was going to change my life! Not so much. Initially, I was disappointed, but I like it now. I’ve accepted what it can and cannot do, which were not the things that I assumed it could and could not do. A tablet (not the iPad anyway) isn’t necessary to my life, but it is a nice accessory.

    • I’ve never seen a DX being used, but that’s probably because the only time I see people using Kindles is on the subway, and that’s when you want the smaller ones, so you can hold the reader in one hand and hold onto the pole with the other. I see people trying to wrangle the iPad on the train, standing, and it looks beyond awkward.

      The Nook Color is definitely not going to change my life, but it is pretty cool (I’m using it to write this). My regular computers are so old, it may well be the most powerful computer I own.

      “I am that kind of bitch,” huh? Someday I hope your partner starts a blog, so we can see the other side of these transactions. 🙂

  2. Interesting. A lot of the things you like about the Kindle, it seems, are getting phased out. All the hot topic right now in e-readers is color screens… no one is talking about e-ink anymore. I don’t see myself getting a standard-issue color screen for casual novel reading. Just doesn’t have any appeal to me.

    The keyboard that you use, too… most of the current Kindle models don’t have a keyboard either.

    But whatever… I’m not in the market for an e-reader right now. When I get into said market, I’ll start comparing more directly. I’m with you, too: e-ink readers and tablets are both useful in separate ways… and until they engineer a way to combine the benefits of e-ink with a snazzy color monitor, I can’t see trying to do both with one device.

  3. I’m painfully aware that my e-reader preferences may already be on the way out (this was in the NY Times yesterday: http://nyti.ms/wWlJoc). If e-ink is universally replaced by tablets that will be too bad. It’s just easier to read.

    (In fact, I’ve been thinking of making U-town, my second novel, available in an HTML form that could be easily read on e-readers – at the moment it’s only available on the web, but it’s really long to read on a computer/tablet screen.)

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