An e-Reading Decision: Kindle, Nook, or iPad?

Paper or plastic?

I love books and I like magazines. However, I have yet to drop $150 on a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. While I do like to save my money, I also like the feel of a physical book or magazine in my hands. Thus, I have held out of the latest e-reader retail craze and have faithfully purchased books at the bookstore and magazines via the newsstand.

However, I am worried in the future I’ll be forced to purchase an e-reader because my favorite books won’t be available in the bookstore and my magazines will completely be in digital only formats. Thus, I’ve decided to examine the three devices, so in the future I’ll be ready to make my e-reader purchase if I am forced to do so.

1. Kindle: This is the grandfather of e-readers – well actually that’s not true. Apparently Sony had an e-reader for years prior to the Kindle. And of course, who could forget the briefly-lived phase of the palm pilots. However, Kindle is the first one that really took off. After all, it was a product of Amazon. And, while Amazon has branched out to other merchandise, their main source of moneymaking revenue is still books: e-books and print.

Now there are a few different Kindle models on the market, and the cheapest one is less than $100 – however you are forced to read your favorite book with ads scrolling on the Kindle screen. Another drawback is that Kindle is only good for black and white books. Magazines do not translate well to Kindle because so far, Kindle hasn’t joined the color bandwagon. Finally, while Kindle recently allowed libraries to purchase digital copies of titles for e-reading patrons to check out, Amazon has tried to stipulate how many times a digital copy can be check out before making public libraries purchase another copy of the e-book.

2. Nook: Nook is good and fairly reasonably priced e-reader. The Nook served as Barnes & Nobles’ answer to the Kindle. The Nook has a black and white version and Nook Color, allowing for magazine readability on the Nook Color. Also, unlike Amazon, Barnes & Noble agreed to let public libraries purchase copies of a particular ebook for an unlimited number of patron checkouts.

3. The iPad: While not solely an e-reader, this all-purpose “tablet” is all the rage for Apple fanatics and PC users alike. My mom has the iPad 2, and it’s quickly replacing her laptop. However, a big drawback to the iPad seems to be its steep price tag. At $500 a pop, the iPad is no small investment, especially for poor college students, or poor college grads. And while the tablet phase may be picking up speed, I am still content with my laptop. After all, it’s extremely difficult to print on iPads, and forget typing 20 page term papers on the touch keypad.

Furthermore, you have to consider other consequences when purchasing any e-reader. For example, the effects on the environment: now I know makers of these devices claim they are environmentally sound because they don’t use paper, but think about all the energy it takes to use one of these devices. It might save paper, but I bet it uses a lot of energy to run any e-reading or tablet device. Secondly, I’ve read a few reports regarding disposal of e-readers and other electronics. Instead of being properly recycled, some e-readers are dumped in massive landfills. Obviously this does not do our environment any favors.

Finally, the rise of any e-reading device or tablet has put the entire publishing industry in a tailspin. For example, many people think its great that they can purchase their favorite magazine through the App store. However, each time you subscribe to the digital version of your favorite magazine through the App store, Apple takes a huge share of the profits that were once all in the hands of the magazine. And the more money Apple makes off of your favorite magazine, the less the actual magazine makes, which could mean the magazine has to fold.

Also, I know a lot of people are excited about free ebooks or 99 cent e-books, but I feel like it devalues literature each time you obtain a free copy of an e-book or even a 99 cent e-book. Publishing, like many other industries, is driven by profit. And when it no longer becomes a profitable business it too is endanger of suffering economically like the music industry.

How do you feel about e-readers?


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One Response to An e-Reading Decision: Kindle, Nook, or iPad?

  1. sari says:

    good article andrea!

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