The Kindle or the Nook?

VERSION I:

The Kindle or the Nook? – –Lue Kernes

Twenty—or even ten—years ago, a novel reader could simply curl up in a cozy recliner near the fireplace or a beach chair beside the ocean with a paperback or hardback version of the his or her choice. Today such readers can still curl up in that recliner or beach chair to read, but more and more often they are reading from an e-reader rather than a physical book. The two most popular e-readers, each of which has gone through more than one version, are the Kindle and the Nook. To date, the latest comparable versions of these e-readers are Kindle’s 3G Wireless Reading Device and the Nook Software Version 1.5 (3G wireless). Currently, these e-readers are quite similarly priced, the Nook 1.5 at $199 and the Kindle 3 at $189. Before selecting one of these e-readers for purchase, I decided to use the advertisements of these devices on amazon.com (2 January 2011) and barnesandnoble.com (2 January 2011) to compare and contrast their physical appearances, their wireless capabilities, their unique features, and their storage availabilities and capacities. 1
Barnes and Noble is the creator and distributor of the Nook 1.5 version. This device is about the size of a paperback book, and the text even replicates that of a book. With a six-inch diagonal screen, it is 7.7 inches high, 4.9 inches wide, and 0.5 inches thick. It comes in white, with a gray back panel for the 3G model, but the back panel is also available to users in an assortment of other colors. The text is produced with E-ink on a non-glare, paper-like background that, unlike LCD models (such as the Nook color version), allows reading in bright sunlight. Sixteen shades of gray provide strong contrast and easy readability. The Nook, like the Kindle 3, provides 3G plus wireless capability so users can purchase and download books directly to the device and use a basic browser (and a built-in dictionary) without having to go through a computer. Users can also download free samples (chapters) of books they are considering for purchase and, for up to fourteen days, can “lend” books they have purchased to other Nook users. These features are free not only at home or at AT&T hotspots but also at Barnes and Noble stores. Other services, such as personal e-mail capability, can be added for a fee. A feature unique to the Nook is its small color LCD touch screen at the bottom of the reader. Users navigate this panel to shop for books, select samples, organize books on “My Shelves,” and even play a limited number of games. Through Barnes and Noble, the Nook has made available more than two million titles, including more than a million free books. It stores up to 1,500 books, newspapers, and magazines and allows additional storage on a memory card. The Nook battery takes 3 ½ hours to charge and allows up to 10 days of reading time without using the wireless. When the Nook’s battery needs to be replaced, users can replace it for themselves at a fairly low cost. 2
The Kindle 3 is designed and marketed by Amazon. Like the Nook, it has a six-inch diagonal screen, but it corresponds to an even smaller paperback book than does the Nook 1.5. Weighing only 8.7 ounces, it is also three ounces lighter than its competitor. The Kindle 3 is 7.5 inches high, 4.8 inches wide, and 0.335 inches thick. Kindle 3 buyers can select from the white or graphite models. The text is produced in sixteen shades of gray with advanced Pearl E-ink technology on a non-glare, paper-like background that allows reading in bright sunlight—an ability that Kindle pioneered. Kindle advertisements claim that the device’s high-contrast ink screen produces 50% better contrast than other models, and indeed some readers say that the text contrast is visibly sharper than that of the Nook. The Kindle 3 has not only an adjustable font size but also a choice of fonts. Kindle 3 users choose and organize their book selections—and even music and audio book downloads—and navigate the screen with a 5-way controller that can even highlight or look up words in its internal dictionary. One of the Kindle 3’s most unique features is the Text-To-Speech feature, through which the device can read English books, newspapers, and magazines aloud (if not prohibited by copyright), thus making it an audio reader as well as a text reader. Through Amazon, the Kindle 3 offers for free over 1.8 million out-of-copyright books published before 1923 and makes available 775,000 copyrighted books, including “107 of 111 New York Times Best Sellers.” At $9.99 or less, purchase prices are comparable to the Barnes and Noble’s Nook. The Kindle 3 has an extremely long battery life, providing up to a month of use with the wireless off and ten days with the wireless on. Charging time is 4 ½ hours. When the battery eventually plays out, however, the Kindle 3 has to be returned to Amazon, and the user receives a refurbished Kindle 3 (not necessarily the same one) but has access to all previously purchased books on Amazon’s archive. 3
Actually, I think that I would be pleased with either the Kindle 3 or the Nook 1.5. There are, however, particular features that I like about each. Based on the number of titles and the internal storage available, the Kindle 3 is clearly superior to the Nook 1.5. Also, I really like the Speech-to-Text feature and the ability to change fonts on the Kindle. However, even though my books would be saved in Amazon’s archive, I am concerned that I would have to return “my” Kindle 3 for a battery replacement and would be send another refurbished Kindle in place of it. If the Kindle 3 were upgraded so that I could replace the battery myself and could save certain books on an external disk—both features available on the Nook 1.5, I would buy the Kindle tomorrow. As it is, after carefully studying these two admittedly remarkable reading devices, I think I’ll wait a few months more to see if the best of both of these products becomes available on one super e-reader. 4

Discussion Questions on “The Kindle or the Nook?”: Version I

Use the annotations you made during and after reading Lue Kernes’s essay to answer the following questions.

1. What are the two subjects of the essay?

Are these two subjects primarily compared or contrasted?

2. What is the thesis of the essay?

3. Write the topic sentence, or main idea, of each body paragraph in the space provided.

Paragraph 2:________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

Paragraph 3:________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

Paragraph 4:________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________

Paragraph 5:_______________________________________________________________

4. What organizational pattern does the essay follow: point-by-point (alternating) or subject-by-subject (block)?

5. Write below several of the transition words used in this essay and include where they are used.

6. What conclusion does the writer draw about the two subjects she is comparing/contrasting?

VERSION II:

The Kindle or the Nook?

Twenty—or even ten—years ago, a novel reader would simply curl up in a cozy recliner near the fireplace or a beach chair beside the ocean with a paperback or hardback version of his or her choice. Today such readers can still curl up in that recliner or beach chair to read, but more and more often they are reading from an e-reader rather than a physical book. The two most popular e-readers, each of which has gone through more than one version, are the Kindle (Amazon) and the Nook (Barnes and Noble). To date, the latest comparable versions of these e-readers are Kindle’s 3G Wireless Reading Device and the Nook Software Version 1.5 (3G wireless). Currently, these e-readers are quite similarly priced, the Nook 1.5 at $199 and the Kindle 3 at $189. Before selecting one of these e-readers for purchase, I decided to use the advertisements of these devices on amazon.com (2 January 2011) and barnesandnoble.com (2 January 2011) to compare and contrast their physical appearances, their wireless capabilities, their unique features, and their storage availabilities and capacities. 1
Although both of these e-readers have six-inch diagonal screens, there are other significant differences in physical appearance. At 8.7 ounces, the Kindle 3 is about three ounces lighter than the 12.1 ounce Nook 1.5. The Kindle—which is 7.5 inches high, 4.8 inches wide, and 0.335 inches deep—is also slightly smaller than the Nook—which is 7.7 inches high, 4.9 inches wide, and 0.5 inches deep. Kindle 3 buyers can select from the white or graphite models. The Nook 1.5 version comes in white, with a gray back panel for the 3G model, but the back panel is also available to users in an assortment of other colors. For both models, the text is produced with E-ink on a non-glare, paper-like background that, unlike LCD models (such as the Nook color version), allows reading in bright sunlight. Sixteen shades of gray provide strong contrast and easy readability on both models. However, advertisements for the Kindle 3 claim that the device’s high-contrast ink screen produces 50% better contrast than other models, and some readers do say that the text on the Kindle 3 is visibly sharper. Both readers also provide adjustable font size, but the Kindle also provides a choice of fonts. 2
Both of these models provide 3G plus wireless capability so that users can purchase and download books directly to the device and use a basic browser without having to go through a computer. Users can also download free samples (chapters) of books they are considering for purchase and, for up to fourteen days, can “lend” books they have purchased to readers who have the same brand of e-reader. For both readers these features are free at home or at AT&T hotspots and, for the Nook, at Barnes and Noble stores. Other services, such as personal e-mail capability, can be added for a fee. 3
Each of these readers has unique features not found in the other device. The Nook includes a small color LCD touch screen at the bottom of the reader. Users navigate this panel to shop for books, select samples, organize books on “My Shelves,” and even play a limited number of games. Kindle 3 users choose and organize their book selections—and even music and audio book downloads—and navigate the screen with a 5-way controller that can even highlight or look up words. (Both devices have a built-in dictionary.) One of the Kindle 3’s most unique features is the Text-To-Speech feature, through which the device can read English books, newspapers, and magazines aloud (if not prohibited by copyright), thus making it an audio reader as well as a text reader. 4
The number of books available for these e-readers and their storage capacities are astounding. Through Barnes and Noble, the Nook has available more than two million titles, including more than a million free books. This device stores up to 1,500 books, newspapers, and magazines and allows additional storage on a memory card. Through Amazon, the Kindle 3 offers for free over 1.8 million out-of-copyright books published before 1923 and makes available 775,000 copyrighted books, including “107 of 111 New York Times Best Sellers.” Purchase prices are comparable at $9.99 or less. Battery storage is also an important feature to consider when comparing the Kindle 3 and the Nook 1.5. The Nook battery allows up to 10 days of reading time without using the wireless whereas the Kindle 3 provides up to a month with the wireless off and ten days with the wireless on. Charging time is 3 ½ hours for the Nook and 4 ½ hours for the Kindle 3. When a battery needs to be replaced, users can replace the Nook battery for themselves. In contrast, the Kindle 3 has to be returned to Amazon, and the user receives a refurbished Kindle 3 (not necessarily the same one) but has access to all previously purchased books on Amazon’s archive. 5
Actually, I think that I would be pleased with either the Kindle 3 or the Nook 1.5. There are, however, particular features that I like about each. Based on the number of titles and the internal storage available, the Kindle 3 is clearly superior to the Nook 1.5. Also, I really like the Speech-to-Text feature and the ability to change fonts on the Kindle. However, even though my books would be saved in Amazon’s archive, I am concerned that I would have to return “my” Kindle 3 for a battery replacement and would be sent another refurbished Kindle in place of it. If the Kindle 3 were upgraded so that I could replace the battery myself and could save certain books on an external disk—both features available on the Nook 1.5, I would buy the Kindle tomorrow. As it is, after carefully studying these two admittedly remarkable reading devices, I think I’ll wait a few months more to see if the best of both of these products becomes available on one super e-reader.

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