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The Best Reading Tablet: the Kindle, the Nook, or the iPad

By Nina S
Posted Mar 17, 2010 in Technology
I have a confession to make: I am a self-confessed bookworm. I buy a new book more than every two weeks and I finish them faster than about 95% of everyone else. I also love to read magazines that are heavy on text: my bedroom has old copies of The New Yorker, Harper’s, Time, and Psychology Today lying all over the floor.
For awhile now, I have been considering (with much gravity) the purchase of a tablet which through electronic files has the ability to hold my entire library. My library is exceptionally random, with literary magazines, foreign newspapers, Italian and Greek theatrics and poetry, epic poems, autobiographies, Czech philosophy, Russian classics, Stephen King horrors, and Dan Brown thrillers. What I needed from my portable library was space, organization, convenience/practicality, and comfort (and also internet access). I wanted to be able to carry my entire library around with me, and also order books on the go. I came upon three different options for an e-reading tablet.
The first option, the new iPad, was out within five minutes upon looking at it. I am not bashing it, and I admit that it’s definitely a magical piece of new technology. It can do almost anything, but that’s precisely my problem. All I want is a way for me to carry around an unrealistically large library of reading material (magazines, newspapers, blogs, and books), order this material directly through the medium which I purchased, and also having the separate convenient ability of internet access. The iPad has movie and gaming options. I would rarely use the movie option because I like to enjoy films on a larger screen, such as in my home or at a movie theater, and I would not be willing to pay money for a film that’s compatible with no other screen than the smallest one I own (other than my iPod and cellphone). Another problem is that I’m not a big gamer, to exaggerate. To be perfectly candid, clear, and realistic, I don’t game at all, and I have a certain unspeakable opinion about video games and those who spend more than two hours a week on those devices. So the problem is that if all I wanted was an e-reading device, when I get all of this extra stuff on it, I have less space for books and it will also not be designed as well for the purpose of reading. The Apple company already brags to others about how colorful and vivid their screen is, and although it’s great for me to be able to watch Saw 37 in hi-definition, when it comes to reading, my eyes will begin to hurt much faster. When I’m on a long plane flight and it’s nighttime so the cabin lights are turned off and it’s dark, even my iPod hurts my eyes. How in the world will I be able to read for three or four hours with an iPad?
So that was immediately out. After the first elimination, I was left with two e-readers specifically design for reading. The battle was on between the Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.
The Kindle won my vote in the end and let me tell you why.
The Nook had some features that the Kindle didn’t (this was their goal), but they also missed some of the features that the Kindle does have (and the important ones). The Nook’s entire existence was based off of copying the Kindle, but was ahead of the curve (yet again!) and when Barnes and Noble released the Nook, which they had named the “Kindle Killer”, released the Kindle Second Generation. The only thing the “Kindle Killer” was “killing” was the outdated Kindle.
This self-proclaimed “Kindle Killer” lacked good internet connections. It operated off of either AT&T cellphone internet or Wi-Fi. A strange thing is that the Wi-Fi doesn’t really work unless you’re in a Barnes & Noble store. Also, the cellular based internet connection didn’t work when leaving the country. With the Kindle, I could be sitting on a fishing boat in the Pacific within the boundaries of Japan, and I could think to myself about how I really wanted to read that new Dan Brown thriller, and I could have it in my hands within sixty-seconds. With the Nook, that luxury (the luxury that prompted me to look into this in the first place) ends as soon as I cross the border into either Canada or Mexico (and yes, Palin fans, Alaska works).
The only real thing that the Nook has over the Kindle is storage space. They both start with the same amount of storage, but with the Nook, you can add more storage space. The Kindle has the storage space that you originally purchased, no flexibility. But with the Kindle storage space, you can hold 1,500 books, and it’s going to be quite the challenge to actually reach 1,500 books (or magazines or newspapers). Once I manage to reach that many books and run out of room, I can start throwing some of them away (since I probably no longer know what I own anymore). But to be completely honest, but the time I actually reach that number, this technology would probably be completely obsolete and I can upgrade to the 6th Generation or something like that.
So that’s not a problem.
Another (irrelevant) thing that the Nook has over the Kindle is the physical appearance. For some, the Kindle’s displayed keyboard might resemble the 90’s way too closely. The Nook has a much better design. It’s sleek and it has two different touch screens which is definitely a new concept the world of e-readers. I do admit that the Nook looks really good, but e-readers aren’t for show, they’re for reading.
E-readers are now known as “trendy”, but in reality, these objects are changing the world we live in and the media that we absorb. Many critics argue that this will ruin the publishing industry (“There will be no book signings…”). However, e-readers are good because they are convenient, they’re fast, they’re practical, and (with the Kindles) you can use them practically anywhere.
Nina S is a student, freelance journalist, museum worker, and blogger. She lives in the D.C. area. You can find more of her work, concentrating more on lifestyle and culture, at