Nook vs. Kindle: Which Is Best for You?
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The Kindle is the undisputed king of e-readers Why You Should Buy a Kindle, Even If You Love Real Books Why You Should Buy a Kindle, Even If You Love Real Books In just one week I've been convinced that the Kindle is the future of reading. The Kindle offers everything you love about books, but with a few added extras that justify the whole expense. Read More and the Nook is perennially relegated to second place. But does that mean the Kindle is indisputably better? Certainly not! Both devices have a lot going for them, and their subtle differences could make one or the other a better choice for your needs.

Let’s take a look at where the two devices differ and where they’re similar. Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the e-readers here and not the tablets What's The Difference Between An E-Reader and A Tablet? What's The Difference Between An E-Reader and A Tablet? Read More .

Price

This is going to be a significant factor for many people. The current Nook lineup boasts a single model for $100, which is great for cutting down analysis paralysis and decision fatigue. The GlowLight Plus is the most recent and most advanced Nook, and it offers a lot of features for $129.99.

There’s a whole stable of Kindles, ranging from $80 to almost $300, each with their own set of features. Here are the starting prices for each:

The base Kindle is the most affordable option, and saves you 50 bucks over the Nook GlowLight Plus. But the $80 model includes ads on the lock screen, doesn’t come with a backlight, and has a lower screen resolution than the Nook.

Of course, if you’re willing to shell out for the higher-end Kindle models, you’re going to get more features. The Nook places itself squarely in the middle of the Kindle range, both in terms of features and price.

File Formats Supported

Both devices support a wide range of ebook formats, but the Kindle supports a slightly larger variety.

  • Kindle: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
  • Nook: EPUB, PDF, Adobe DRM EPUB, PDF, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP.

If you only plan on buying books through the associated ebook store, this isn’t going to matter much. If you want to sideload documents, though, you may want to consider what you’re going to be trying to read. Using the Kindle conversion service is very easy, and it opens up some very useful formats like DOCX.

send to kindle

On the other hand, if you’re using Calibre to manage your ebooks How To Manage Your Ebook Collection For The Amazon Kindle With Calibre How To Manage Your Ebook Collection For The Amazon Kindle With Calibre The biggest problem with an eReader like the Amazon's Kindle is that it requires unreasonable effort to move books between different devices. Before Kindle, I fell in love with Calibre. A bit on the heavy... Read More , you can convert just about any file into another format that your reader will accept.

If you feel strongly about DRM and proprietary formats, the Kindle’s proprietary AZW format might irk you, whereas the Nook’s use of the more widely accepted EPUB format might appeal to you. It’s not likely going to be a big deal, but keep it in mind.

Battery Life

Most e-readers have phenomenal battery life, and the Nook and Kindle are no exception. The Nook advertises six weeks of battery life, assuming 30 minutes of reading per-day, one page refresh per minute, the GlowLight at 30 percent brightness, and wireless off.

kindle features

The base Kindle model sports four weeks of life, assuming 30 minutes of reading per-day and wireless off. The Kindle Paperwhite, which may be more comparable to the GlowLight Plus because of its built-in reading light, claims six weeks of 30 minutes of reading per-day with the light at 10, about 40 percent of maximum.

The Kindle Oasis, on the other hand, lets you read for up to eight weeks with 30 minutes of reading per-day and the brightness at 10. The included charging cover helps keep the battery topped up, so it can store more power from each charge. It also charges more quickly than other models.

Connectivity and Store

All of the Kindle and Nook models are Wi-Fi capable, so you can access the store and download books whenever and wherever you have a connection. The Kindle Paperwhite, Voyage, and Oasis, however, allow for a 3G connection as well. If you pay $70 up front, you can be connected no matter where you are. Is it worth the added cost? That depends on how often you download books and how often you find yourself unable to connect to Wi-Fi. I’ve never needed the 3G connection, but some people might find it very useful.

nook vs kindle store

Obviously, the Nook connects to the Barnes & Noble ebook store, while the Kindle connects to the Amazon Kindle store What's Wrong With the Kindle Store? Everything. What's Wrong With the Kindle Store? Everything. The Kindle Store is the largest eBook retailer on the face of the planet, with over 4.6 million titles. However, cracks are appearing, and it's not clear Amazon will be able to paper over them. Read More . Both stores offer all of the big-name books from popular authors, as well as a stunning selection of back-catalog items. If you’re interested in checking out self-published books and items from very small publishers, Amazon is likely to have you better covered. But for most people, this is unlikely to be an issue.

Screen Quality

The Nook GlowLight Plus has a 300-dpi e-ink screen What Is E-Ink? How It Works & Why Every Ebook Fan Needs It What Is E-Ink? How It Works & Why Every Ebook Fan Needs It If you read ebooks and haven't switched to E-Ink yet, then you're seriously missing out. Here's everything you need to know about why E-Ink rocks for ebook lovers. Read More . That’s a solid resolution, and displays text very crisply. You might notice a bit of graininess in images, but e-readers are never going to be as good as tablets when displaying images.

The base model Kindle has a 167-dpi resolution, but all of the other Kindles pack 300 dpi. Is that going to make a big difference? Probably not. When it comes to text, slightly sharper edges aren’t likely to bother you. Images will definitely be nicer, though.

eink microcapsules
Image Credit: Gijs.noorlander via Wikimedia Commons

One of the biggest advantages that the Nook has over the base-model Kindle is that it has a built-in reading light. It’s not a backlight, so you won’t have to deal with glare, but it makes reading in low light (or total darkness) possible. As far as e-reader features go, it’s one of the most useful. And you won’t get it on an Amazon device until you step up to the Kindle Paperwhite.

Going up the ranks, the Paperwhite is lit by four LEDs, the Voyage is lit by six and includes an ambient light sensor, and the Oasis packs a full 10 LEDs.

Other Features

In looking at the various e-readers that Barnes & Noble and Amazon offer, you’ll come across some pretty cool features. The Nook GlowLight Plus is waterproof, for example, up to one meter for thirty seconds. So you don’t have to be afraid of reading at the beach or in the bath. It also includes Barnes & Noble’s Readout feature, which helps you discover cool book excerpts, articles, and more.

The Kindle Voyage and Oasis both have PagePress, which places a pressure-sensitive pad directly into the bezel of the reader, so you don’t have to move your thumb from the bezel to hit the touchscreen and turn the page. This sounds like it wouldn’t be much of an annoyance, but you’d be amazed at how tired your hand and forearm muscles can get from that motion over several hours of reading.

The Oasis is designed with a unique shape to be ideal for one-handed reading, and the included cover helps keep the battery topped up. All of the Kindles have the X-Ray feature, which lets you quickly skim through the book for mentions of a specific character or topic. And because Amazon owns Goodreads, you can access it directly from your Kindle to update your “currently reading” shelf, rate books, and check your to-read list How to Organize Your Out-of-Control Reading List Right Now How to Organize Your Out-of-Control Reading List Right Now A reading list serves a lot of functions -- from practical to inspirational. But it can also get out of hand. Using these tips to manage your reading hobby can do wonders for your life. Read More .

Which e-Reader Is the Right Choice for You?

As with anything else, the “best” e-reader is going to be largely determined by your particular needs and habits. Do you prefer the wider selection of books available on the Amazon Kindle? Or would you rather be able to read in the bath without having to worry about water damage? Do you want PagePress capabilities, or would you rather get lifetime in-store support at Barnes & Noble?

All of these factors will likely figure into your decision on which e-reader to buy. We just hope our rundown of the options available, and their various features and capabilities, helps you make an informed decision. We’re not here to make the decision for you, but simply point you in the right direction.

Which e-reader are you likely to buy? Which features or other factors helped you make your decision? Do you think all e-readers are pretty much of a muchness at this point? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credits: BEGUN via Shutterstock, FANTOM TV via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Steven
    October 15, 2017 at 9:05 am

    B&N pulled out of the UK last year leaving Nook owners high and dry. Fortunately there is plenty of support around for installing the Kindle app on a Nook and I have now rescued a Glowlight otherwise gathering dust in a cupboard and now have the best of both worlds.

  2. Danielle
    June 23, 2017 at 2:33 am

    I have had a Nook for years and went in to Barnes and Noble today to look at upgrading. Nobody there was interested in helping me. So much for customer service.

  3. Stacey Holmdahl
    May 27, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I have had an original Nook for years, and it is finally dying. While I did have some technical problems with it years ago (for a while it couldn't download books and B&N couldn't tell me why) I was able to take it in to my local B&N store and the clerk there taught me how to side load as an alternative until the bug was fixed. I like that I can go into my local store for support when I need it. I've done it a few times and always been satisfied. I think I will stick with B&N for my next e reader.

    • Dann Albright
      May 29, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      Local support is a huge bonus—the Nook definitely beats out the Kindle for support. I can see why that would be a definitive deciding factor!

  4. Harry Dola
    May 1, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Long-time Nook owner, love the e-ink technology. But be aware, if you ever have an issue with the device or a subscription, B&N Support is terrible. You will call repeatedly, get different answers, and take hours to hopefully find someone who can help. In this age of poor outsourced customer service, B&N is one of the worst.

    • Dann Albright
      May 13, 2017 at 5:41 pm

      I haven't actually experienced Nook customer support myself, but I've heard that. Thanks for chiming in with your experience!

  5. Cookie
    April 20, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you SO much for this review! Definitely helps me with my decision!

    • Dann Albright
      April 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      Well now I need to ask which one you decided on. :-)

  6. Colin
    January 9, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Hi. You should also note that the Nook is not easily available to buy outside the USA. My son brought me one back to the UK and while I'm a fan of Nook readers...
    a) the software refuses to allow me to buy books straight from the reader store - I have to buy from Kobo and load them manually.
    b) The only language supported is English - United States.

    These are possibly significant limitations your readers may be interested in. Personally, I feel Barnes and Noble have let their overseas customers down badly and sadly this will be my last Nook.

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      That's a good point—thanks for bringing it up. I didn't look into wider availability or how they function outside the US. If I remember correctly, I had my Kindle linked to my UK Amazon account while I lived in the UK, and reconnected it to my US account when I moved back. If anyone else has international experience with these devices, I'd love to hear about it.

  7. thomasammy33
    January 8, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    sHGZDFHJ

  8. Rachel
    January 7, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    I have the best of both with my Nook tablet and the Kindle app. I support real book stores (Barnes and Noble) while having access to Amazon's greater selection, especially in professional literature and textbooks.

    • Diane Rolleri
      January 8, 2017 at 2:31 am

      I too choose to support Barnes and Noble. I had the original Nook and also own the Nook color tablet, HD+ and Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook 10.1. I just purchased the new 7" Nook reader for only $49 that I use only for reading. I love all my Nooks and use them at different times for different things. I have the Kindle app on my tablets, readers and my phone but do not care for the features of the Kindle and only use it if I find a book for less money in their store.

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2017 at 9:12 pm

      That's a good solution too, if you're not put off by the backlit screen. That's what gets me; I'll choose the e-ink screen over a tablet screen any day.

  9. Mags D
    January 7, 2017 at 9:49 am

    I don't know anyone with a nook, but plenty of people with Kobo ereaders. I just got a new waterproof Kobo Aura for christmas, and it's a lovely thing.

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      I've heard good things about Kobo readers! I've never used one myself, but I'm glad to hear good things. I especially like the waterproof feature. That's fantastic.

  10. Kelsey Tidwell
    January 7, 2017 at 2:30 am

    My wife and I gave our son a Kindle Fire HD 8" Christmas before last and it's one of the most enjoyable things he's ever received. He's quite a "real" book lover and collector, but does like the Kindle for all the portability and convenience features.

    I've used it a time or two, just to see what the experience was all about, but maybe I'm just a dullard... I like using my Android phone or 7" tablet with the Kindle app just as much, if not more. The tablet was definitely much cheaper than the Kindle, and I have what seems to me to be much more functionality.

    But that's why there are choices.?

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      I would imagine that your 7" tablet is pretty similar to the Kindle tablet, but I could be wrong. I'm not sure how different it would be from another Android tablet. I'll have to look into that!

  11. Malarkey6
    January 7, 2017 at 1:33 am

    I use an original Nook Simple Touch. I bought it on sale eons ago and I think I paid about $50 for it. The best $50 I've ever spent. It does everything I need an eBook reader to do without all the other "fluff"

    • Dann Albright
      January 18, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      That's great—and one of the best qualities of ereaders is that they seem to continue functioning pretty much forever. If you get one you like, there's rarely a need to upgrade for many years.

  12. Dragon
    January 7, 2017 at 12:38 am

    I bought one of the original nook readers years ago and that is still what I use when I am not on my phone or reading an actual book. Just never felt the need to upgrade

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      My wife has a first-edition (or at least very close to first-edition) Kindle, too. Ereaders just have a phenomenally long life!

  13. NjM
    January 6, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Could you please also review the Kindle tablets with this. I still use the Kindle HDX and love it! Thank you!

    • Dann Albright
      January 10, 2017 at 9:09 pm

      That's a great idea! I'll be sure to pass it along to our section editor.

      • Danelle
        November 20, 2017 at 7:57 pm

        Hi, small note. waterproof for 30 Minutes , not seconds. Thanks for review! danny.