Picking An eBook Reader

Amazon has sold more Kindle’s in the last quarter, than they had sold during the previous time since it was announced. eBook readers are the hot items this holiday shopping season, so with readers being sold by a number of different companies, which one should you get? In this post I will share some information that might help you decide which eBook device to buy.

Wired has an article that provides an overview of the four top devices on the market for reading eBooks, the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Sony Reader, and the Apple iPad. The iPad is not only an eBook reader, and apps are available from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble to read their eBooks on it. If you want to do a lot more with a device than read eBooks, then I recommend the iPad.

Sony has actually been selling eBook readers longer than Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and they currently have several different models at different price points. Perhaps the main reason to not get a Sony Reader is that it does not work with either Amazon’s or Barnes and Noble’s eBook stores.

The choice between Amazon and Barnes and Noble is difficult in my opinion because both have large eBook stores, and the readers the two companies sell are attractive. You can buy an Amazon Kindle for $139, which is the lowest price of the devices I have mentioned, and it has a very good eInk display. The negative with Kindle is that the books you buy from Amazon can only be read on Kindles or with Kindle apps. The fact that you can obtain free Kindle apps for several smartphones and the iPad somewhat mitigates the risk of of buying Amazon eBooks.

Amazon does not yet sell a color version of the Kindle, while Barnes and Noble does with the NOOKcolor. Color is most useful with magazines and children’s books, but if you want a color display and don’t want to pay $500 for an iPad, the NOOKcolor is an attractive device. Barnes and Noble uses the ePub format, which means that you can buy eBooks from stores other than their’s and read them on the Nook.

Wired’s article discusses the trade-offs between the color display on the Nook and the eInk display on the Kindle. Some people prefer the backlit LCD display and do not have problem eye strain, while others prefer the paper-like appearance that eInk provides, though it requires lighting like paper books. The choice between the two will come down to personal preference.