Reading ebooks on a computer used to be a last resort, but with newer, lighter Windows 8 tablets hitting the market, like the Dell Venue 8 Pro, getting some reading done on your computer is a much better experience. But then, which app should you use? The biggest names in eBooks right now are the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.
Both of these brands make some fabulous eReaders, including the Kindle Paperwhite which has received an upgrade since we reviewed this Amazon eReader, but if you’d rather not clutter yourself up with a bunch of different devices, reading on your Windows 8 tablet is simple thanks to apps from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Let’s take a look at these two top eReading apps.
The user interface on the Kindle app for Windows 8 is astoundingly simple. You’re presented with your books on the left, and if you scroll a little to the right, you have the Kindle Store. Swiping from the top or the bottom will open up the options menu, but there’s only one option: sync.
The check boxes you see on the books below indicate that those titles have been downloaded to my device for offline reading. You can also select any book by tapping it and pulling down, which gives you the option to pin it to the Start menu for quick access.
Clicking on the Kindle Store will bring you to a slightly more busy screen with some recommendations front and center, and a column of sections to the right. I really like the design here and think that it makes it very easy to find books to read.
Clicking on a book brings you to a screen with pricing, description and reviews as shown below. It uses big cover art and text, making it ideal for a touchscreen device. Being the largest eBook brand to date, Amazon is bound to have any book that you’re looking for, as well as many that its competitors don’t have.
Whereas Barnes & Noble eBooks are distributed in standard ePub format and thus easy to find, Amazon’s proprietary Mobi format means you are mostly locked into their store. Sure, there are a few other websites where you can find Mobi eBooks, but they’re limited. It’s a good thing their store is as good as it is.
Once you actually get into reading the book, you will find a whole host of customization options available to you. Swiping in from the top or bottom reveals all of the options that otherwise would disappear to allow for a clean reading experience.
You can search within the book in the top right, view your notes or customize the look in the lower left, and the lower right has options for skipping around within the book, syncing, and pinning the book to your start screen.
The customization options are wonderful. By default, it allows for two columns of black text on white background. However, I tend to prefer a black background on white text with skinnier margins, so I changed it up a bit as seen below.
Tapping on a word will quickly pop up the definition, as well as give you some options for highlighting the text or leaving a note. The dictionary feature is really my favorite; what is a better way to learn new words than through reading?
The great thing about both Kindle and Nook is that their apps span nearly every device imaginable. If you’ve got any iOS devices, check out how to get the Kindle app set up to read them on there.
Upon first inspection, the Nook app appears very similar to the Kindle pendant, except that it has a white theme. Scrolling to the right you will find that it is far more cluttered, with bunches of categories from the Nook store.
Clicking on books will bring you to the Nook store, the equivalent of the Kindle store shown earlier.
This is another horizontal scrolling list of categories, and you can choose categories from the drop down menu at the top. It’s definitely functional, and it doesn’t look bad, but I have to say that I prefer browsing through the Kindle store.
Above you can see that The Fault In Our Stars is actually a bit more expensive than on the Kindle Store ($5.49 vs. $3.99), but that’s not always the case. I’ve found that prices are generally the same as in the Kindle Store, but if you want to check, you can use Leatherbound to compare eBook prices and find the cheapest one.
The interface seen above isn’t as nice as the Kindle Store’s, in my opinion. The text and cover art are smaller, and it just looks boring.
The Nook app behaves similarly to the Kindle app in that the option menus are accessible from swiping in from the top and bottom. From there you can see your progress, search within the book, view the table of contents, customize your reading experience, add a bookmark, view details of the book, or pin it to the Start Screen. Up top, there are options for annotations and bookmarks, as well as shortcuts for going Home, to the Shop, or to your Library.
One note about the actual reading experience: both apps allow you to turn to the next page by tapping on the far right side, which is what I usually do, but if you prefer to swipe and have a nice animation, you’re going to prefer the Nook app. While it doesn’t have the full fake page-flipping animation, the Nook app does show one page sliding away as the next one slides into view, whereas swiping in the Kindle app just makes the page disappear and the next page appear with no animation at all.
Above, you can see the reading experience after being customized a bit. The Nook app offers a wide range of text customizations options, even allowing for the font to be changed, which the Kindle app does not. It also has options for highlighting, adding notes, looking up a word in the dictionary, or finding it within the book.
Which app you like the best comes down to personal preference, but I’m going to side with the Kindle app here because of it’s much better library of content, and because I believe the Kindle brand will outlive Barnes & Noble’s Nook brand in the long run.
Although the Nook app for Windows 8 is a very strong contender and beats out the Kindle app in several ways, Barnes & Noble still can’t compete with Amazon’s grip on the industry. However, which app you decide to use may simply come down to which service you’ve invested more in.
Which eReading app do you prefer? Or is there a third option to be considered? Let us know in the comments.