There are a lot of e-readers in the market today, but one of the very few companies that are standing in the way of Kindle’s global dominance is Nook. This clash of book titans has left all players – big and small – with only two options. Either they innovate their devices as fast as they can and adapt to the changing landscape of the business or get outdated and out of business really fast.
This is a classic example of technology outpacing industrialism, and it has has led to a surge of interest towards e-readers. Two companies always come out on top when it comes to offering premium devices that have a rich ecosystem of title selections and services that readers enjoy – Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook.
Watching on the sidelines are small independent brick and mortar bookstores that are threatened to close down as these giants offer more and more compelling reasons for consumers to use their platform. Will it be a one-sided win for Amazon and its diverse business model or will Barnes and Noble claim the throne in digital publishing as much as it ruled the print industry?
Nook is an e-reader manufactured by Barnes and Noble, while Kindle is Amazon’s gateway device through their large selection of ebooks. Both devices give you easy access to the browsing of books and offer a minimalist reading experience. Although not entirely bad, it makes the task of finding the best e-reader in the market even more daunting.
So which one of these titans should you place your bets on? What are the key features that set them apart from each other, and the rest of their competitors? Let’s find out in this Nook vs Kindle comparison review!
Table of Contets
- 1 Nook vs Kindle: In-Depth Comparison
- 2 The Verdict
Standout Features of Nook
Being one of the biggest book companies in the world, it’s no surprise when Barnes and Noble announced that they are going to get into the e-reader and ebooks industry. It was followed by the introduction of their e-reader device – Nook.
Critics say that this is B&N’s desperate attempt to save their company, which can be true to some extent. However, since the introduction of Nook, B&N has consistently proved that they know books better than anyone else. This device has not failed the consumers who are loyal to the bookstore titan. Their e-reader offers some of the best features and even surpassing well-known competitors like Kobo by Rakuten.
There are different Nook devices that you can choose from, but the only one that was designed solely for ebooks is the Nook Glowlight. Some say that having more options will be good for the consumers, but for Barnes and Noble, an e-reader is for reading books, it should not be bloated with fancy and confusing features that make reading very complicated.
There is no other way to read ebooks other than to have it in sharp and crisp texts. This single-product approach has allowed Nook to focus all the innovations in one device and just have it designed in a way that readers will actually use and fall in love with.
Barnes and Noble proved, once again, that they are the experts when it comes to books when they released a feature called LendMe. It was the first of its kind when it was released and this feature has allowed owners of Nook devices to borrow books for 14 days and for a fraction of what it costs to buy the title.
Nook also stands out when it comes to cross-platform compatibility as they offer their users access to more types of ebook files like .epub, which is the file type that is being used for opensource books. This means is that if you have an ebook from another source, you can still read it nicely on a Nook device and works just as fine as the books that were bought from Barnes and Noble.
Having a removable battery, slimmer bezels and a memory card slot are also some design elements that give Nook an edge over other e-readers in the market. It gives better aesthetics for the device and makes it more practical because you don’t have to spend more just to get more storage for your device.
Standout Features of Kindle
It was 2007 when Amazon first attempted to reshape the book industry by introducing the Kindle for the first time. It was revolutionary and has led Amazon to hold the biggest share of the market for e-readers and ebooks.
6,000,000 titles – that is the number of ebooks that you have access to when you use a Kindle device. That is more than what any online bookseller has in their list and is one of the reasons why Kindle is more preferred by a lot of consumers. The selection of titles available on Amazon is so huge that out of the 175 currently listed New York Times Bestsellers, only 12 of them are not available for Kindle!
Kindle also has several variations that range from $80 up to $350! Each device has its strengths and weaknesses that cater to different levels of readership enthusiasm. As of this review, there are dozens of Kindle devices that you can buy – some were removed by Amazon from their list, but are still offered by 3rd-party sellers.
As consumers say, if you can read a book, there is a perfect Kindle device for you.
Amazon is also quick to update and phaseout its devices. In fact, the Kindle Voyage was released in 2014, but a lot of people still prefer it over e-readers from other companies that were released just recently.
This aggressive innovation from Amazon is great for the market because quick updates of Kindle devices will force other e-reader manufacturers to do the same just to remain competitive. In turn, consumers are presented with an ever-growing number of better options, deals, and value when looking out for such devices.
Kindle is also in the process of developing text to speech feature, which brings more innovation in the book industry. Although this is a nice addition to the features that Amazon is already offering to its consumers, there are doubts about their willingness to develop this feature as it would overlap with another company that Amazon owns – Audible.
Nook vs Kindle: In-Depth Comparison
1. Design Features
In terms of design elements and form factor, Nook and Kindle e-readers are not that much different. However, the flagship Kindle device – the Oasis – is continuously receiving design upgrades to test the limitations on what an e-reader should look like.
So in order to make a proper comparison for the design elements of both companies, we are going to compare Nook Glowlight 3 and Kindle Paperwhite, which are touted as evenly matched e-readers, not only for their price points but also for the design elements used and features that they are offering.
The biggest and most defining difference between the design of the Nook Glowlight 3 and Kindle Paperwhite is the implementation of page-flipping buttons on the bezels and the capacitative home button for the Nook. This is very important because it dictates how consumers can interact with these devices.
For the Nook, you can turn pages using an actual physical button, which gives a more realistic reading experience, as opposed to the Kindle that uses haptic feedback that they call PagePress. A dedicated home button is located at the bottom part of the Nook, while the Kindle doesn’t support having this feature and simply relies on the touchscreen navigation of Paperwhite.
Other than these different design implementations, there is not much difference between both e-readers. Both have 300 PPI screen resolution and is using e-ink and e-paper technology that makes reading more pleasurable on these devices.
For the design features, although Nook is up-to-par with Paperwhite, Amazon’s Kindle simply has more devices with different design features that you can choose from.
The usability of Nook’s Glowlight 3, which is the only Nook e-reader that you can buy is very basic. Sure, it gives you what you need from a device that is supposed to read books and it does a great job on that. They tried to make it as minimalistic as possible and without missing out on the essentials that make reading better.
Kindle devices, on the other hand, continue to innovate on these devices at lightning-fast speed by adding features that improve the reading experience and overall usability of all their devices. You will notice that as every iteration is released, features like the X-Ray and text to speech functionality is being added.
Consumers can use the Nook e-reader and with great ease, but Kindle has a huge edge over this because of all the features that they are adding in every iteration of their device line-up.
3. Title Selection & Book Pricing
Nook is using the ecosystem of Barnes and Noble, while Kindle devices give you access to Amazon’s selection of books. The number of books that you can choose from is probably the biggest deciding factor when getting an e-reader, and is where Kindle has a huge advantage over everyone else in the market.
Barnes and Noble have a wide range of physical books that you can buy, which is expected from one of the biggest booksellers in the world. However, the title selection available for Nook is not even close to the ones that you can find on Kindle. Recent reports say that Amazon currently has a selection of over 6 million ebooks in its platform, which is more than what any other company can offer, by a large margin.
Nook has a great selection of ebook titles, but it still requires more work in order to get close to where the Kindle is when it comes to the title selections. Since you are buying an e-reader, not only for the specifications of the device but also for the ecosystem that goes with it, Nook is less desirable than Kindle devices.
Here is a famous quote from David Pogue that puts the size of Amazon, Sony, and B&N into perceptive and comparison:
“Of the current 175 New York Times bestsellers, 12 of them aren’t available for Kindle; 21 are unavailable for the Nook. Kindle books are less expensive, too. Inkmesh.com studied the top-selling 11,604 books for early November, and found that 74 percent of the time, Amazon offers the lowest-priced e-books (cheaper than B&N or Sony) by an average of 15 percent.”
When it comes to non-mainstream books, Barnes and Noble and Amazon offer a self-publishing platform that allows non-mainstream writers to publish their own content. This allowed aspiring writers to make money from their work while providing the consumers with out-of-the-box content that may not have a lot of attention for the traditional book publishing companies.
Barnes and Noble have been in the book industry since 1886 and is accused of being responsible for taking down small independent booksellers by offering low-cost books that are hard to compete. Amazon, on the other hand, is the biggest contributor in taking down the largest booksellers in the US by implementing the same approach in selling books. Both companies have a large selection of titles and this clash between the titans has only resulted in lower cost for books and better reading experience for all consumers.
However, Kindle is a clear winner on this aspect because they have capitalized so much in their ebooks that it will be very challenging for any company to compete with their vast title selections.
4. Built-In Features
One built-in feature that a lot of Kindle users want for their devices is to have the ability to change the temperature of the screen to reduce eye-strain. Even their most expensive e-reader, the Kindle Oasis, doesn’t have this functionality. Nook has this feature for a few years already and is the reason why people who are having trouble with white light prefer Nook devices over Kindle devices.
LendMe is another built-in feature that is available for all Nook users. This is a feature that allows you to borrow books for 14 days and at a fraction of what it would cost to buy the title. Kindle doesn’t have this feature, although their process of transferring borrowed books from a public library is more seamless than it is for the Nook. There are too many processes that you need to do to transfer books from a public library to a Nook device, while Kindle is so seamless with it that it feels just like transferring a file to another device.
Unfortunately, that is as far as Nook goes when it comes to the built-in features of their device. Kindle, on the other hand, is more focused on the software side of improving the reading experience of its users and continues to innovate rapidly. Recently, they have released a text-to-speech feature, which may still be in beta but it already has a lot of promises behind it.
Nook has placed a lot of effort into improving its e-reader, but it’s just not enough to complete with the experience and resources of Amazon when it comes to e-readers. They had years of experience and has millions of data to work on, which makes them more effective when it comes to implementing features for Kindle devices.
5. Updates & Iteration
Amazon is very fast in updating Kindle devices. In fact, there are still a huge number of people who can’t get over the great features of Kindle Voyage and are still wanting to buy it over other e-readers that have been released recently. Although you can still get it from 3rd-party sellers, Amazon stopped selling it and is now focused on another line of Kindle devices.
Each release of a Kindle iteration improves the overall user experience and built-in features that add value to the already overwhelmingly rich ecosystem of Amazon. Nook, on the other hand, also releases iterations for their e-reader, but not as fast and as consistent as Amazon.
Take the Nook Glowlight Plus that is waterproof, for example. When Nook released the next generation of their e-reader, people are expecting it to be waterproof as well, it should have better features and better performance. It failed to meet market expectations when it was released without waterproofing. This is clearly a step back from their previous model and made it look like Barnes and Noble is not sure about the upgrades that they want to include in their e-reader.
6. Availability & Support
Nook has a huge edge when it comes to availability and support because it utilizes the vast network of brick and mortar stores that Barnes and Noble have. You can get your own Nook e-reader from any of their stores or purchase them online through Barnes and Noble’s online store. Support is also a strong ground for Nook, as you can get your service for this device on any B&N stores.
Amazon can only be bought from Amazon and 3rd-party sellers. The support you can get from Kindle devices is also top-notch, but being able to ask for help physically is something that they are not capable of offering.
7. Cross-Platform Compatibility
If you are getting your books from other sources, most commonly the .epub version of books, which can be downloaded from online opensource websites, you will find Nook a better option for you. Kindle is using a proprietary format for their ebooks, and their devices do not support .epub.
If you are going to borrow books from a public library, however, Kindle has a more seamless process when it comes to transferring those books into your device. Nook is also capable of transferring books from a public library, but you will have to go through different tedious steps to make it work on your e-reader.
Nook has our vote on this aspect, because of its capability to read .epub files beautifully and allowing its users to borrow books from public libraries. Although the process can be challenging, it is still possible to use Nook for borrowed books.
8. Device Pricing
As of this review, Amazon is offering three different models of Kindle and it costs anywhere from $79.99 up to $349.99. Whereas the Nook only has one, which is the same as the price of Kindle Paperwhite at $119.99.
There is really no clear winner when it comes to the pricing, but Amazon has set an entry-level device that will get you hooked into their ecosystem and encourage you to invest more on their devices. The barrier for entry when it comes to Nook may be higher because there is a considerable number of consumers who may not be willing to shell out more than $100 for an e-reader.
Amazon has a great advantage for e-readers, because of its vast selection of titles and great features built into their devices. Fast updates are also good because consumers can get better devices faster, but it also makes the device purchased this year, already outdated next year.
If the price is a deciding factor for you, then the entry-level Kindle device is the best option available. However, if you need better support and flexibility when it comes to the sources of the books that you are going to read, then Nook is perhaps a better option.
The ability to read .epub is a huge advantage and there is a great number of books available that are published using this type of file.
Nook and Kindle are two innovative and industry-leading ebook reader manufacturers. While both perform on a top-notch level, Kindle still has the upper hand. If you’re torn between deciding which one to buy, we recommend getting the Kindle Paperwhite.
The only disadvantage of having a Nook e-reader is that it needs more work to really compete with the ecosystem of Kindle. The news about the decline of Barnes and Noble for years is also one reason why consumers tend to steer away from this device.
However, there is no denying that Nook is a worthy competitor to Kindle and really an amazing e-reader that is capable of delivering great reading experience.