iPad vs. NookColor: eReading Death Match, by Nico Vreeland

I had a chance to play around with an iPad over the holidays. Here’s a comparison of the iPad and the Nook Color, which I’ve been reading on for about a month (full Nook Color review here). Obviously the iPad does a lot more than reading, but this post is designed to give avid readers an idea of whether a Nook will be enough for them, or an iPad will be worth the extra money.

And the short answer is: the Nook will be enough. It’s a close fight, but the iPad simply doesn’t seem to care enough about reading to win.

[Note: I only had a day and a half with the iPad; if you’re a more experienced iPad user and I got something wrong, let me know.]

The iPad’s more newspaper-like newspaper layout. (Click any picture for full-size.)


Newspapers: iPad wins (for now)

The iPad’s NYTimes app looks more like a real paper, and features big, beautiful pictures and embedded video. Best of all: it’s free (for now). The Times has plans to start charging at some point; once that happens, this will be a much closer race.

The Times app needs an Internet connection to work, where the Nook Color downloads the whole paper so you can read it offline. There’s no archive in the iPad version, only today’s news, and if you want a paper other than the Times, you’re out of luck.

I don’t really care about the layout, to be honest. Some people don’t like the Nook Color’s list-of-articles-style layout, and it could certainly use some navigational help (like a back button). But the iPad layout is basically the same, except for the front page of each section.

Photo essays like this one are awesome, but they take an age to download (after several minutes, only five pictures are available).

I am jealous, however, of the NYTimes app’s multimedia content. I’d like to see the digital edition of the Times include videos, photo essays, and blogs like the iPad version, I’d like to see it download an entire edition to your device like the Nook version. The iPad’s 3G is basically worthless, so you have to read the paper at a WiFi connection.

So: the Nook gives you more papers, and gives you the complete archiveable print versions of them. The iPad only gives you the NYTimes, it needs a WiFi connection and expires too quickly, but it offers a lot of multimedia content. Once price is no longer an issue, the winner of this fight will depend on how you read the paper.


Books: Tie

The iPad and Nook Color are almost identical when it comes to books. Both can bookmark, highlight, and take notes—and both note-taking systems are terrible. Both can change font and font size. The iPad has page-turning animation, the Nook Color has a night-reading mode. The iPad also has a two-page view that’s pretty cool, mostly because it feels more natural on the giant screen.


Magazines: Nook Color wins

A page from “The New Yorker.” They seem to feel the screen is too big.

Getting a magazine on the iPad is a frustrating experience. You have to download the magazine’s app, and then often you must buy each issue individually, which makes it $5 and up, instead of the Nook Color’s $3 per month and down subscription price. That’s not a huge difference for a monthly magazine, but weekly magazine prices really add up. (Obviously, both systems’ prices need to drop to below print subscription rates.)

Then there are size and downloading issues. When I bought an issue of The New Yorker, it was inexplicably more than 100Mb (because of the embedded video in which Jason Schwartzman shows you how to swipe?). To make matters worse, it won’t download in the background, you have to sit there and watch it.

Zinio’s “Text” view

The Zinio app is crucial for iPad magazine readers. It lets you browse a wide selection of magazines, and offers the only subscriptions you’ll find. Weirdly, you have to use a credit card or Paypal to pay, instead of getting routed through your iTunes account.

The Zinio interface is smoother than the Nook Color’s, but it’s simply not as useful. The Nook Color’s Article View, which isolates the text of a story, is much better than Zinio’s similar “Text” view (pictured), because Article View is available on any page of a story, remembers your place, and lets you side-swipe directly to the next article. Zinio-”Text” does none of these things, and the page is wider than is strictly comfortable for reading a magazine article.

All in all, it’s no surprise that iPad magazines are in steep decline. It’s obvious that Apple doesn’t care enough about magazines to organize a system. They care about absolutely everything, so that says a lot.


Comic books: iPad wins

It’s not much of a fight, because the Nook offers no comic books. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s because B&N want to sell comic books through their store, while Apple is happy having an app that does all the legwork. Hopefully a ComiXology app is coming to the Nook Color soon.


Kids’ books: Nook Color wins

I couldn’t find any kids’ picture iBooks that featured embedded audiobooks, which is definitely the killer feature of the Nook’s picture books.


Shopping: Nook Color wins

If you “browse” at the iBookstore, you’re just given a huge list of authors’ names. Unhelpful.

For the most part, these shopping systems are equally crappy. I understand there’s limited screen real estate on the Nook Color, but it’s fairly impossible to browse for books. The iPad, shockingly, is almost as bad. There are “Featured” layouts in each of the genres and categories, layouts that look roughly like the iTunes store. But if you don’t want a featured book, slogging through the “Browse” interface is a chore.

Certainly, iBooks’s curated store is more helpful than the Nook Color’s horrible shopping interface, which constantly tries to hard-sell me romance novels, and never recommends a book I’m remotely interested in. But the Nook wins this race to the bottom because Barnes & Noble has an actual website, and anything you buy or sample there shows up automatically on your device. Also, you can get magazines and newspapers through B&N, instead of through a thousand different channels on the iPad.

There is no iBookstore website, so iReaders are stuck in the slog.


Extras: iPad wins in a landslide

Obviously. But it’s worth mentioning.


Hardware: Shockingly quite even

The iPad is smoother without a doubt, but is it that much faster? I didn’t really notice a difference for just reading. And the iPad glitched and jerked more than the Nook. A caveat: obviously the Nook is comparable only when reading; I’m sure the iPad is faster when doing other things. Reverse caveat: if you’re considering a Nook, you’re not really interested in the other things.

The Nook Color’s screen size is preferable to me. Even magazines, the only medium that requires size, look great on it. Magazines look better on the iPad, but the screen is too big for everything else you’ll read. You might feel differently if you have poor eyesight, but you can adjust the text size of anything.


Final thoughts

  • The iPad’s 3G: a rip-off at half the price. There are a lot of limits, like you can’t download anything over 20Mb through 3G. Plus $25 for 2Gb of bandwidth is a ludicrous price, and, of course, it’s woefully slow. I mean, AT&T can barely handle iPhones rendering mobile webpages, what made them think they could handle full-scale pages for iPad, plus heavy, multimedia-rich apps like the NYTimes? Simply put, a 3G dongle is not worth the extra $130.
  • The Nook Color revolves around reading. The iPad is about design, and it looks great. But the Nook is about functionality, and it shows, especially in magazine reading. Apple’s hands-off approach to newspapers and magazines really hurts the iPad in those departments. The Nook needs its share of help, too (magazine price reductions, and all kinds of firmware improvements), but it’s at least on the right track.
  • Verdict: I’m still very satisfied with my Nook Color. The iPad has a few advantages, but also a few disadvantages. All in all, the Nook Color is a better device for avid readers, and it’s only half the price to boot.

Reprinted, with permission, from Nico Vreeland’s Chamber Four

    27 Comments on iPad vs. NookColor: eReading Death Match, by Nico Vreeland

    1. Thanks to your review last month, I added a Nook Color to my eBook readers (now including the Nook Color, Kindle2 and eBookWise). Over Christmas, I had the chance to spend some time with my inlaw’s iPad. The iPad is nice. I didn’t find it worth the extra dollars and, like you, I find the Nook’s size (same size as the Kindle but a little thicker and heavier) is more appropriate for my travel and reading schedule. Which might be why we’re hearing forecasts that the iPod-2 will be smaller.

      Rob Preece
      Publisher

    2. “Getting a magazine on the iPad is a frustrating experience. You have to download the magazine’s app, and then often you must buy each issue individually, which makes it $5 and up, instead of the Nook Color’s $3 per month and down subscription price.”

      I have subscriptions on Zinio and NO I do not have to buy each individual month.

      “Kids’ books: Nook Color wins”

      Did you even look at the Dr. Suess books that you buy in the app store?

      Simply randomly selecting Zinio or iBooks and saying because they do something particularly well that you like that the iPad loses makes no sense since there are various other apps that do including the Nook app itself.

      He cannot cherry pick like that on the Nook because it’s one and done right?

      There are several options for magainzes on the iPad and there are hundreds of eBook reading options better than the Nook app.

      NONE of those options are made available on the Nook be it color or eInk.

    3. From everything I hear about the color Nook, it sounds terrific – really lets you start buying/reading books/magazines/newspapers out of the box. The size and form factor are also going to be more comfortable for many people since it’s more paperback-size than hardcover. That said, I think your review has missed the apps that make the iPad a worthy reading device too. For newspapers, including back issues, I recently discovered PressReader. (I’ve also bought the New York Times from the Nook store.) Magazines? Zinio lets you subscribe at very reasonable prices, comparable to, or less, than, the print subscription price. Books are all over the place, admittedly, but you can purchase from the same bookstore that powers the Nook, or from its many competitors, as you wish. (And GoodReader lets you read PDFs very nicely too!)

      Oh, and children’s books with audio and interactivity? There’s an app for that. Too many, in fact – but some of them are very nicely done, and there are also a few that offer in-app book libraries so everything’s in one place.

      I hardly EVER use Apple’s iBooks, by the way. It’s nice that they’ve added picture books, but the prices, youch!!!

      In sum, the iPad can be a terrific e-reader. The size and complexity may not be for everybody, but it works for me (and my kid)

    4. “The iPad’s 3G: a rip-off at half the price”

      What a laugh ! What an idiot.

    5. @Howard? WTF? He’s got a point. The 3G option has been a disappointment. Too many limitations – not good value.

    6. I love my 3G option. I hate AT&T but I would have been without any connections several times over living in North Carolina like I do.

      So no AT&T 3G is far from perfect but I am sure you can say that same thing about any cellular provided solution or wi-fi capabilities. Some places it works and some it does not.

      I do not expect a sudden revelation when I buy a Verizon iPad either frankly but I do expect they continue to add even more functionality to the iPad.

      There simply is no comparison between an iPad and anything being sold mainly as a eBook Reader because it does so much more than just read any format or any style of eBook you might want to read. The Nook is proprietary and so is the Kindle and those are facts.

      You can hack a Nook Color and add the rest of the Android apps into it from what I have found online but you are still hacking in functionality the iPad simple provides from day one.

    7. @Rob — glad to help.

      @Teddypig — I mentioned the subscriptions on Zinio. I couldn’t find subscriptions on other magazines you find in their own apps (like the New Yorker). I prefer the onboard Nook magazine reader to Zinio (by a lot).

      @Katherine — interesting that iBooks isn’t the go-to place for books.

      @Howard — Yeah, I don’t think any other company could do it better than AT&T. But since the iPad works best with full web pages and apps, the 3G feels even slower than on a smartphone using mostly mobile pages. $25 a month (for 2Gb) is a lot, let alone $130 up front. Plus, a $30 plan on most cell providers gets you at least 5 Gb of bandwidth. Sorry, it’s a rip-off.

      @Teddypig again — Of course the iPad’s better as a full-featured tablet. But if I owned an iPad, I’d use it 95% of the time for reading or watching movies. So this comparison is for people like me.

      Thanks for the tips on kids’ books, folks. I’ll make a note in the original post.

    8. Nico the whole point is you DO NOT OWN AN iPad so you have no background in the various other apps available in the app store to use to define a review like this.

      About the only thing I could come up with that might get the outcome you described was if you compared ONLY the Nook App on the iPad to the Nook Color.

      Basically you are comparing a whole basket of fruit to an orange you grabbed and saying the orange is better because you have never tried any of the other things in the basket.

    9. I bought the Nookcolor after playing around with other bookreaders and/or tablets on the market Archos 101, Pandigital, Liberati). I rooted the device and I now have a full blown tablet which can access Kindle, Kobo, Borders, comic readers, 5-6 PDF readers, Aldiko, Adobe etc. It also will run pretty much any Android app available.

      It comes with 8 gbs memory on-board and has a card slot for additional memory and micro usb port.

      Great device for $249.

    10. What Masseven forgets to say is Google will not support using Android for the Nook or any tablet device presently so no app store access for you and Nook will not support a device that is rooted.

      So if you run into any problems have fun finding support and that is what $249 got you. For just a bit more and you could have had an iPad and a warranty with a help desk.

    11. @Teddypig, Not for just a bit more, for double or more. Well I suppose it might not be a big difference for some folks :-)

      There are points to be made for either and it will depend on the individual as to what will be best for them.
      ——————

      “The iPad and Nook Color are almost identical when it comes to books”
      How are they even close? iPad has tons of options for books besides iBooks (Kindle, Nook, Borders, Kobo, Google, Overdrive/Library books…) heck the iPad even has an app to read B&N’s eReader/pdb format which B&N’s own NookColor can’t do.

    12. Well the main idea is if you wanted a “real” supported Android ebook reading device with more options than a silly Nook for that $249 then do what everyone else does.

      Buy a droid or an htc evo which are decently large screens and are also a phone and are unlike the Nook fully supported by even Google as an android running device.

    13. Brian/AnemicOak // January 4, 2011 at 11:04 am //

      True, my Galaxy S (Epic 4G) screen in landscape is only 1/8″ narrower than the 6″ Kindle screen so in a way you’re getting pretty good size, although I prefer to read books in portrait mode.

      It’ll be interesting to see what comes out for Android tablets once “Honeycomb” is released since it’ll be an actual Android for tablets.

    14. “and if you want a paper other than the [New York] Times, you’re out of luck.”

      And I suppose the apps for USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Washington Post, London Times, The Economist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Oklahoman, Le Monde, etc. etc. etc. don’t exist? A moment’s search in the App store for ‘newspaper’ pulls up 16 pages of newspaper apps – not to mention there are equally good non-newspaper daily news apps like BBC News, NPR, CNN, and more. Both the iPad and the nook Color have access to any of the website-based newspapers; I would have been curious to see what you thought of the two browsers in comparison.

      As others have pointed out, the iPad isn’t limited to a single bookstore or format; in addition to several apps for reading ePubs, and Apple’s own bookstore, there’s the B&N bookstore, Kobo, Kindle, Bluefire Reader for Adobe DRM’ed content like digital library checkouts, and more. The only big-name ebookstore I can think of that isn’t covered right now is Sony’s.

      Count me also in agreement with the commenters who don’t understand calling 3G connectivity ‘useless’, unless the only criteria used is the 20 MB download limit; I find it works reasonably well for almost any activity other than downloading huge files – like news apps, web browsing, email, weather updates, etc. It’s subject to the same performance issues as every other cellular ‘net access I’ve tried; from the reviews I’ve read 4G cellular access isn’t much better, certainly not on a consistent basis.

      All in all, the thing I find the iPad really offers for e-reading over the nook Color is alternatives – alternatives in e-reading software, works with almost all of the major ebook stores, dozens of news applications to choose from. This is not to say the nook Color is a bad device at all; it’s the one ereader I’d be tempted to get in addition to the iPad and my old Sony 505. However, I’d wait until at least the next major software update; in the time I spent playing with one in the store, the nook Color seriously needed software polish in a number of areas.

    15. @Travis, I don’t think anybody called the 3G connectivity on the iPad “useless.” Certainly, having always-available internet on your iPad is a useful thing.

      But to clarify why *I* don’t think it’s a good deal… you have to pay more than $100 extra for the built-in 3G modem. The data plan itself was originally unlimited, and then after a month they said, “Oh sorry, it’s capped.” If you’re only downloading books, you won’t hit the limit, but if you want to do something like watch streaming video on your nice shiny iPad, you’ll hit the limit hard in a matter of hours.

      Contrast that with something like Virgin Mobile’s MiFi, which cost about the same as the 3G premium on the iPad, but can be used with up to five devices at a time, and offers unlimited data for $40 a month (more than AT&T, admittedly)

      Anyway, for me, I figured I could always load up my iPad with reading material when I’m near a WIFI hotspot (which is often) and if I was out and about and needed to get online, well, that’s what my phone is for.

    16. Cellular data streams will never be free. Even the FCC is stating that as a fact.

      So yes, being limited to any particular cellular carrier sucks but that is true of the Kindle along with the iPad and along with all the smart phones we could name. They are all each and everyone stuck in that mess. That has nothing to do with 3G being worse than 4G.

      If you want to get any of these ebook reader or gadgets with a cellular data connection you are by nature stuck paying whatever the fee is for the data plan. Those plans will change on you eventually for whatever you buy.

      I have one of those original AT&T “unlimited” plans and I am holding onto it for dear life. But eventually the piper will get paid I am sure.

    17. In response to Teddypig, I have complete access to Android Market and have purchased apps for my Nook throuh it. I find the pricing, restrictive access, and inability to add memory and use usb a major minus for the Ipad. But to each his/her own. I don’t try to disparage other devices just because I use something different.

    18. Travis Butler // January 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm //

      From the original article: “The iPad’s 3G is basically worthless, so you have to read the paper at a WiFi connection.” ‘Worthless’, ‘useless’, I don’t see much distinction.

      As far as caps and rates… well, in my normal iPad use, I’ve been averaging around 150-200 MB/month cellular data in normal use since I got it in July, though there’s been a couple of months where I hit 250 MB a day or two early (not a big deal to me). The 250 MB/$15 plan is thus completely viable for me; that’s $25/mo saving over the Virgin Mobile unlimited plan, or $300/yr, which is not exactly trivial.

      Note that when using cellular data, I don’t try to do high-bandwidth activities like streaming video on a regular basis – but I do lots of web browsing, email, news reading, weather checking (with WeatherBug’s visual maps, so a fair amount of map data) and Google Maps. This has been a perfectly viable usage mix for me, and I’ve only felt the pinch a couple of times in six+ months.

      Now, would I like to have an unlimited plan for dirt cheap? Sure! I’d also love a pony. But the reality is that for right now, the infrastructure to support everybody doing unlimited high-bandwidth operations like video streaming simply *isn’t there*. And upgrading the infrastructure to get there is going to be expensive, labor intensive, and take time – I live in Kansas City, do a fair amount of travel around the Midwest, and there are still pretty huge holes in even low-speed data coverage, let alone 3G – and don’t even think about 4G! I’m not a cell technology expert, but I’m frankly wondering if even 4G is going to give enough capacity for everyone to use high-bandwidth operations like streaming video.

      So right here, right now, until the infrastructure can be put in place, there isn’t the capacity to give everyone unlimited access; I honestly expect unlimited plans to disappear across the board as growing numbers of cellular data users start to strain capacity on all the cellular networks. True unlimited for everyone is going to have to wait until the foundation is in place.

    19. Hi guys,

      Thanks for the tip on newspapers. I searched for “newspaper” of course, and only found a bunch of RSS apps. I also searched for about a dozen prominent papers and came up empty. But good to know.

      Re 3G–At best it’s bad service for exorbitant prices. Sorry. The fact that full-size pages suit the device better has a lot to do with it.

      Re books: it’s a tie. The extra selections and apps are nice, but both devices bring a nearly identical book-reading experience. It’s not that the Nook Color is great, or anything else, it’s just that it’s hard to meaningfully improve on plain-jane book reading.

      This isn’t iPad bashing, as many seem to think. The differences are all pretty minor, and the two devices are pretty much even. The Nook is good for a reader who just wants an ereader, and it’s a whole lot cheaper. The iPad’s great for people who want an iPad.

    20. Massaven

      “I don’t try to disparage other devices just because I use something different.”

      I am not disparaging anyone by pointing out YOU took your Nook out of warranty. It is also not disparaging someone to point out Google does not support your “tablet” as a official Android running device.

      Everything I pointed out was and is the truth of the matter.

    21. Massaven

      “I have complete access to Android Market and have purchased apps for my Nook throuh it.”

      You are again not being clear about all this the Android you Rooted onto your Nook gave you that access not the Android installation the Nook originally came with. There is a big difference here. The Android install the Nook came with it will support and is under warranty the one you put on there it will not.

    22. Travis Butler // January 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm //

      Er… I think you missed my point on the extra book apps on the iPad; it’s not that the reading experience is significantly better or even different, it’s that you have more options for buying and reading other ebook formats. The nook Color has direct access to the B&N store, can read unprotected epubs and PDFs, and from what I understand can also handle other epubs using Adobe’s DRM (which lets in library checkouts). The iPad has all of that, plus the Apple bookstore, plus the Kobo bookstore, plus the Kindle bookstore, plus other apps that can natively read eReader files, older PDBs, LITs, Plucker, straight HTML, RTF, plain text… The nook’s support for epub makes it more flexible than the Kindle, but it can’t use the Kindle bookstore or read Kindle books any more than the Kindle can use B&N’s; the iPad can use both, plus a whole bunch of other sources.

      As far as newspapers… without going into the App store directly, there’s a listing at http://itunes.apple.com/us/genre/ios-news/id6009?mt=8 for the general category; some specifics are http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/usa-today-for-ipad/id364257176?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bbc-news/id364147881?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-wall-street-journal/id364387007?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/npr-for-ipad/id364183644?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-economist-on-ipad/id400660644?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/politico-for-ipad/id406349184?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bloomberg-for-ipad/id364304764?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/financial-times-ipad-edition/id370723705?mt=8, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/the-washington-post-for-ipad/id401284198?mt=8, or http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/newsday/id358571317?mt=8, just to name a few.

      I’m not trying to bash the nook, either; from what I’ve seen of it, it’s pretty good, though as I said sorely in need of software optimization and polish. (When I was playing with it in the store, I kept running into screens that didn’t register finger taps, slow response to UI interaction, etc.) It’s a nice piece of hardware that felt good in the hand and has a very nice display. But even just comparing them as e-readers, the iPad offers a much broader selection of reading material and content sources. If you’re happy just using the B&N store and sideloading DRM-free or Adobe Digital Editions epubs and PDFs, you’d probably be fine with the nook for e-reading. I like having the extra content options.

      I think a big part of it is that Apple’s interested in selling the hardware; so while it’s got its own bookstore available for people who want to use it, it’s not ‘pushing it’ in the same way B&N and Amazon are pushing their respective bookstores. (Since for B&N and especially Amazon, I believe they’re pushing the book sales and the hardware is at most a nice little additional revenue stream – sort of the way the Apple bookstore is a nice little incidental revenue stream for them.) Apple’s perfectly willing to let B&N and Amazon bring their own stores to the iPad, along with Kobo, and presumably would be happy to let Sony bring theirs as well. (Which I don’t see happening – Sony’s model is like Apple’s, they’re in it to sell the readers, with their bookstore as a sales tool more than the core revenue stream.) Likewise, they’re happy to let third parties come out with alternative reader apps like BookShelf, Stanza, Bluefire, ComicBook, iComic, GoodReader, ReaddleDocs, etc. for reading formats not supported by their own iBooks app; their major revenue stream isn’t book sales and the additional support could help hardware sales, so why not?

    23. Hi Travis,

      I don’t have access to an iPad anymore, so please fill me in: what’s the deal with other iPad newspapers? The Wall St. Journal, for instance, has a pretty strict paywall on its site—is the app the full paper? Do you have to subscribe/what does it cost? Also, what’s it like? I’m not terribly interested in apps that just package up the free content on a given website, that’s easy enough to get.

      Also, re: books, I get that you have more places to buy books from, but I’m not convinced that that’s all that much of an advantage. The Nook can side-load all kinds of non-DRMed ebooks in all kinds of formats, as can almost every other ereader out there. pdb might be a weak spot, but if you’re lugging around a library of .pdbs, you’re probably savvy enough to look for that feature in new devices (although god help you if it’s a deal-breaker).

      I suppose getting books in Kindle format would be good since they sync notes between devices, but html is crappy for books. And any book you buy with DRM, as I’m sure you know, will eventually expire. That’s why I like library ebooks, because as long as publishers lock up their ebooks, I prefer to pay for as few as possible.

      So I guess the bottom line is this: if you have a rare need, like a device that supports .pdb or something that can access your Kindle notes, then you have to compare with that rare need in mind. But if you just want to read books, the Nook and the B&N store will be fine 95% of the time, and the 5% difference between the Nook and the iPad is not worth an extra $250. To me. Everybody’s still got to make their own decisions.

    24. I don’t have the WSJ app myself, since I’m not that interested in financial news; my understanding is that there’s a subscription plan, but I don’t know the details. The other newspaper apps I’ve used and/or spot-checked – USA Today, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, etc. – were mostly built around the same model as the NY Times app (only *much* faster; for some reason, the NYT apps have been very slow ever since the first iPhone version debuted), with an opening screen resembling a front page for each section, linking to individual stories from the headline/capsule summary. There were a couple, like the Dayton app I spot-checked, that just had a plain list of stories without trying to do a front page-style layout; even if the information was still there, it was harder to read and pick out. (Full disclosure: I majored in journalism, took a newspaper design course and spent time as a layout person, so I tend to notice these things more and argue for the reasoning behind solid layout and design.)

      As for more places to buy books from… last time I saw a comparison, a few months ago, there was a very large gap between the Kindle store and just about everything else in the number of titles carried, especially if you left the public domain Google Books titles out of the equation. Somewhere in the vicinity of 30%-40% more titles in the Kindle store, IIRC. That’s too big an advantage to ignore, particularly if you have a taste for more obscure works. I don’t like the way Amazon’s trying to corner the eBook market, I don’t like the way they refuse to use interoperable formats, and I try to buy elsewhere when I can – but if a title I want is only available in a Kindle edition, I want the option to go with that if I want it badly enough. And given how fragmented the eBook reseller market is now, I can easily imagine some titles being available at one store and not the others. Or one reseller having policies you prefer, or better pricing. Or whatever. I like having the option to use just about any of the major stores I please, not just B&N and the DRM-free stores.

      Speaking of formats – from what I’ve heard, the nook only handles a couple of formats: epub and PDF, either DRM-free or with B&N/Adobe’s DRM. I could see it handling plain text, just because that’s so common. Does it support other formats that I’ve not heard about? (I’ve certainly heard that it doesn’t support eReader.)

      To me, this is important because an e-reader can be useful for reading a lot more than books; I have a lot of work-related documents that I can just dump in my iPad and have always available, not to mention a 25+ year archive of online stories, ‘net lore, and other datafiles. (I’d love to see National Geographic put out an iPad reader for the digital magazine archive they released a year or two ago.) Again, I like being able to read (potentially) everything, not just a couple of formats.

    25. Formats on the color Nook: PDF, ePub, Word, Excel, powerpoint, RTF, txt, HTML. This is from the user guide. I’ve tried ePub and Word.

      Rob Preece

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