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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Metapost: The Great E-Reader Debate

I'll admit it, I'm a late adopter for technological stuff. I only got on Twitter because my husband and sister both have accounts, and in a paranoid moment, I became afraid that they would tweet about me. I've since surpassed them both with followers, and after having met some great people, I'm thinking that sometimes paranoia pays off.

My motivations for getting an e-reader are a little more straightforward. First, I love books, but I live in a small house, and my bookshelves are quite crowded. Second, I'm reviewing self-published books on my writing blog, and some of those aren't available in hard copy. Also, well, books are comfy for some of the household residents, which isn't conducive to actually reading them:

Once I decided to get an e-reader, I faced a host of other questions: back-lit vs. e-ink screen? Price point? Market share of reading materials? Do I go all out and get an iPad?

"Just go to Best Buy and Barnes & Noble and play with them," my exasperated Hubby told me after I'd been obsessing about the decision for a few days.

No, no, I wanted to figure it all out for myself because I'm stubborn like that. I found myself down to the two main e-reader choices, Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook. Both have really appealing features. The Kindle isn't back-lit, so it's likely more sleep-friendly, and Amazon has 47-48% of the e-book market share. The Nook Color is, well, color, and has more capabilities, and my Blackberry Torch has served as a gateway gadget to get me hooked on touch screens.± It can also be hacked with an Android platform to turn it into a tablet and has external storage. Cost wasn't really an issue because I'm trading in credit card reward points, and they're about the same.

At this point, I took the most logical step possible: I engaged my social networks and took a scientific* poll of my Twitter and Facebook friends.

Twitter results:

Votes for Kindle: 3
Votes for Nook: 1

Facebook results:

Votes for Kindle: 8
Votes for Nook: 2

The funny thing about both kinds of e-reader was that everyone loves whatever they have. It reminded me of being in social psychology, or maybe it was cognitive psychology, class (those painted cinder block walls in the psych building at UGA blended together after a while) and talking about decision-making. The principle is that, when faced with two equally good options, people will rationalize whatever choice they make and convince themselves that whatever they don't choose wasn't right for them, anyway, which made me suspect just how much people love their e-readers. Poll results: out the window because, darnit, I'm going to figure this thing out for myself!

I was still torn, so I did what I should have done in the first place: I went to Best Buy and Barnes & Noble at Edgewood and played with them. I was hoping that a Best Buy geek would appear to answer questions for me, but apparently I wasn't in the big-ticket item section, and they never appear when you actually want them. The ladies at the B&N were really helpful, and they showed me that it is possible to manipulate the brightness and contrast of the Nook to minimize the back-lit impact.

So that's what I got, a Nook color. Thanks to everyone who helped me with this decision, and especially to Hubby. I went and played with the e-readers on Friday, which was his birthday, so I was able to give him the best birthday present a woman can give a man: I told him he had been right all along.

Now I have to be patient and let the darn thing charge before I can play with it…

± I'm really hoping the next step isn't an i-thingie.

*Okay, not really.

P.S. Here's what I got for Hubby's birthday. Chocolate mousse cake, which was more like creamy chocolate mousse with flecks of chocolate on a chocolate pie crust. Yes, it was chocolate heaven and almost worth admitting he was right.


  1. Sounds like a good acquisition, Cecilia. Thanks for sharing your buying process. I'll keep it in mind for when I get mine. (which won't be any time soon, mind ;P)

  2. Let me know how you like the Nook. I purchased a Kindle for my better half, price plus he didn't need all the bells and whistles. Now I have inherited it because he doesn't use it. The only thing I've found it that the Kindle is MUCH lighter than the Nook (a friend has one). But I think if I had purchased this for myself I would have gone with the Nook. Color, all the options. Oh well. That's ok, I still really prefer paper...

  3. Mari -- LOL Aren't they using e-scrolls in Italy? ;)

    Julie -- thanks! I haven't used it much so far, but I've got some books loaded on it, so I will soon. After having pulled my laptop out on the plane today and being just fine with it, I'm glad I didn't go all the way for an iThing. :)

  4. Props to you for going with the Nook. Some would call me biased because my wife works at B&N, but thankfully I am able to separate myself from that biased possibility.

    As a geek I have compared the two. Personally, I don't think the Kindle would be where it was if it wasn't for the Nook being on base first. They certainly forced Amazon's hand into the realm of innovation.

    One of my biggest things about the Nook is its support for the open format known as epub. The Kindles format (.mobi) is a proprietary format that Amazon owns. The nice thing about epub is that its an open format, allowing anyone to produce and freely use it. I am personally all for the open formats.

    The rest is playing with the two devices and deciding which one suits your purposes best. Oh, I am not surprised you didn't get help at Best Try. They simply sell the device, but don't know a thing about it. They are literally in it for the money. I have gone into Best Try and asked an associate who was working the section and they admitted to not knowing a thing about the devices. He told me to go to B&N as they had the experts on site.

    One tip I can offer is, outside of purchasing books through the device, you can use a free application called "Calibre" to upload documents to your Nook. Calibre is located at: http://calibre-ebook.com/




  5. I just stopped over from Tony Noland's blog to kick you in the arse to finish your novel. Go, Go, Go!

    Oh, I have a Kindle (which I love) but I also use Nook for iPhone. I don't think you can go wrong with either!

  6. AWESOME!! I got my mom a basic nook over the Kindle... I think it would just be easier for HER to use. She's old ... ;)

    (Sorry I haven't been around much -- been in the writing [and movie watching] cave)

  7. Wow, thanks for your long, thoughtful comment, Jeff! It's kind of sad that the "Best Try" experience seems pretty universal. I'll look into the software because I'm planning on using the Nook to read my novel critique group stuff.

    G.P., thanks for the much needed kick in the arse! I dreamed last night that I was on the phone with an agent and was like, "oh, crap, you're not supposed to do this."

    Ant, great to see you! I need to stop by your blog again sometime soon. I hope things have calmed down for you.

  8. I got my Kindle in December and I love it dearly. I thought I would mind that it's not terribly adaptable for other uses, but I really don't. I can read my books, I can get my feeds delivered to it, and I can send myself web documents. For being as unipurpose as it is, I've gotten a lot of mileage out of it. I like the non-backlit feature (reading in the sun!) and how crisp the "ink" appears.

    But the majority of my opinion was based on the fact that I primarily buy from Amazon anyway. Had I gone the other way, I'm sure I'd enjoy the Nook just as much.

  9. Thanks, Lori!

    I like your blog and need to add it to my blog roll. :)

    The back-lit aspect of the Nook ended up being particularly helpful in Philadelphia recently, when I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep due to shoulder pain from traveling. I couldn't turn on any lights in the bedroom without disturbing Hubby or in the living room without bothering Babysis, so I sat on the floor in the dark and read "Pride & Prejudice" in night-time mode with the brightness turned all the way down until I got sleepy again.

    Thanks for stopping by!