I know I’m late to the game to be discussing e-book readers, but after purchasing two different models (both as gifts) I think I’ve come across a few interesting experiences.
Both devices use a primary reading surface that is the “digital ink” display. This gray-scale matte finished surface is meant to simulate paper, as well as to cut down on battery consumption. Both devices read remarkably well, even in direct sun/lamplight.
The Kindle was a gift for my mother, who loves it and carries it everywhere using it daily. Once she learned the interface, buying process, and general charging and use work-flow, she has been very satisfied.
The nook was similarly a gift for my wife (from her students). There were a few differences in the hardware between the devices, but the main difference isn’t in the way the device handles user input, but the integration with the store.
Both devices quickly link to a new or existing online store account for the amazon.com store or barnesandnoble.com. Amazon boasts the ability to recommend books based on your account history, where I can’t say b&n does since we had to register for a new account. Both stores have an abundance of free ebooks in their native formats. The majority of these are titles that are in the public domain, but both include specials on new authors and new releases for either trial chapters or full free books.
The one major win for the nook is the integration with the “brick and mortar” Barnes and Noble stores. If a user is connected to a b&n location’s wifi, they can get a free book. Additionally, while in store the user has the ability to read many titles in their entirety, provided they are still connected to the in-store wifi. And lastly, the Nook makes a point of supporting the Ohio Ebook Project. This means that a user (in my area) can check out ebooks using their library card for a period of 15 days before DRM kicks in and asks them to renew their lease. The Kindle not being able to support this feature was our determining factor in going with the Nook.
All in all, both devices are well suited for their main purpose – collecting multiple books into a single slim device with good battery life and great readability.