Both Amazon and B&N have physical eBook readers, the Kindle and Nook (which runs on Android). Both now have apps available free in the Android Market to read and sync eBooks published in their corresponding online store. Both are very fast and have the same basic set of features, but neither can read the other’s eBooks, which is understandable, but a shame (we might talk about that in a future post).
Which app is better? That might not be the right question to ask. BetaMax was technologically “better” than VHS, HD-DVD was technologically “better” than Blu-Ray, and 8-Track was “better” than cassette. But if you’ve got a “losing” player, you’re not going to be able to watch the movies or listen to the music that you want because they aren’t made for the “losing” formats.
Apply the same analogy to eBooks and you see where I’m going. eBooks might not be available at B&N, but are at Amazon, and vice versa. Or, as I found out, the pricing may be better at one store than the other.
All that aside, let’s look at the two eBook reader apps!
Trying to stay on the “Android” theme, I went out and got a copy of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot from Amazon for US$6.29 and B&N for US$6.70, then shot a video to show you the experience I had with each eBook in the two readers.
The Kindle app came out first. In my experience it opens relatively slowly, even in Froyo. WhisperSync automatically grabbed the new eBook and downloaded it to my Android. Bookmarks are applied using a “dog-ear” UI element (which I don’t like).
Page turning is very fast, and there are three different display modes (sepia, white on black, and black on white). Font size can adjusted, along with brightness, though the latter was a little buggy.
Your bookmarks and the place you left off are automatically synchronized across all devices using WhisperSync, so you can pick up where you left off even if it’s on another device or the desktop version of the reader.
The Nook Reader runs on Android, so it’s still a mystery to me why their Android app took so long to make it into the Android Market. Opening the app seemed to take a little longer than opening Kindle, and the “bookshelf” was a little different.
Unlike Kindle, which automatically downloaded the eBook, Nook showed that it was available for download, but required me to tap the “download” button to have it delivered to the device. Luckily that only took several seconds over WiFi.
The “cover page” was nicer on the Nook version of the app, and I really liked the scroll bar to quickly skip through the book — something I didn’t find in the Kindle.
Page turning in Nook is just as fast as in Kindle, but Nook has a very realistic page turn animation that doesn’t interfere with fast page turning, but adds a bit more elegance to the reading experience on Nook. Bookmarking is basically the same, but can be done on-page (rather than by going to the menu, as in Kindle). Unfortunately bookmarking is done using the dog-ear metaphor as well.
In my opinion, the Nook book-shelf looked better than the Kindle’s. Page turning and bookmarking was more elegant and remarkable in Nook than in Kindle.
Both apps require you to purchase books through the mobile versions of their web site, not from within the app itself. Neither app can read the other’s eBooks.
Much to my surprise, Nook won out over Android in my experience. What do you think? Which app do you like better? From which store have you purchased the majority of your eBooks?