I love books. I like the way they smell, the feel of the pages on my fingertips, the weight of a book as I hold it in the palm of my hand. My shelves at home are packed full of books – my prized Alice Hoffman collection, New York Times best sellers, and an array of used books picked up at Goodwill over the years.
Recently, I was talking to a close friend of mine who had gotten a Kindle for her birthday. She was telling me how much she loved her new gadget and recommended that I buy one. At first, I scoffed at the idea. Then she showed me how it worked and let me try it out. “Hmmm,” I said. “This is pretty neat.”
As it turns out, I’m thinking of adding an e-book reader to my holiday wish list. Unsure of which device is right for me, I’m going to analyze the differences between the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Apple iPad. Factoring into my decision are things like price, portability, compatibility, wireless capabilities, and screen type.
At only $139, the price of the Kindle has dropped dramatically since its introduction to the market in 2007 (when it retailed for $399). For another $50, I can upgrade to a 3G model that allows me to download books anywhere with AT&T Wireless coverage. The Kindle is lightweight (8.5 ounces) and has a 6” screen, so portability isn’t an issue. I also like the fact that Kindle has an e-ink screen, which resembles the page of a book, as opposed to an LCD computer screen.
Unfortunately, the Kindle cannot read EPUB file formats, the standard for library books and free downloads. This puts the Kindle at a serious disadvantage for me. I don’t want to pay $9.99 every time I want to read a book!
The new Sony Reader Pocket Edition has a 5” screen and only weighs 5.5 ounces. It too has an e-ink screen, but unlike the Kindle, it can read EPUB file formats just fine. The retail price is also reasonable at $179.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have wireless capabilities, so I’d have to download books to my PC first and then transfer them to the Sony Reader using a USB cord. To connect directly to the internet, I would have to upgrade to the 3G Daily Edition, which sells for $299.
The Nook retails for $149, with the upgraded 3G model selling for $199. Slightly larger than the Kindle, but still very portable, the Nook weighs 11.6 ounces and measures 7.7 inches. It has an e-ink screen and also reads EPUB file formats.
The Apple iPad isn’t just an e-book reader, it’s a media tablet. It offers a touch-screen, video, and thousands of apps, none of which are available for the other e-book models. Obviously, this means that the iPad costs more – the minimum price is $499. Since this is out of my price range, I’ll stop right here!
For the price, it seems that the Barnes & Noble Nook would be a good choice for me. It has all the features I’m looking for – it’s affordable, portable, and EPUB compatible, with an e-ink screen.
I have to say, the idea of switching to an e-book is bittersweet for me. I’m excited about the prospect of having access to thousands of books that my shelves could never hold, but I’ll miss the experience of thumbing through pages and searching through bookstore shelves for a good read.