In summary: I love my eInk Kindle 3 as well as the selection and portability Amazon gives me. I can use it on sunny days, there is no glare, it is easy to read at night, and it won’t mess up my sleep patterns. I just don’t want to read novels on an LCD screen and I want my book separate from the device I use to check email and waste time on the web or playing games.
Here’s why it works for me:
First, why an eReader rather than a paper book? Convenience. I personally like having a dictionary, the three books I’m reading at the moment, and the ability to save and share highlights all on one device. The fact that it is not a dead tree in my hands also tugs at my environmental side. I do not think they are more difficult to read, reduce attention spans, or contribute to the hyperactivity of online reading. When I am reading a novel on the Kindle, I am just as engrossed as I would be if I were reading it on paper.
But what works for you? Here are a few items to consider:
eBook vs. Paper
eBooks are a great format for those things that are text heavy such as novels, non-fiction, and some text books. However, if you are looking at books with many pictures (historical photography, for example) or reference books (Complete Guide to ASP) you may still want paper versions. If your text book has many diagrams, you may not want the eBook version unless you also have a 10″ tablet. The nice thing is, if you have both an eBook reader and a color tablet and your library is shared between the devices you can easily get the best of both worlds by just purchasing the book once.
Also, the shelf space saved by not having additional bookshelves is priceless.
eInk vs. Color Display
There are countless studies showing how electronic displays can strain eyes and when used before bed, disrupt sleep. Just Google it. Also, LCD displays on devices such as the iPad, Nook, and even Fire do have glare when used in the sun. I sat on a pedestrian bridge one bright, summer afternoon train watching and was able to read Willa Cather on my Kindle as I waited. eInk reads like paper with no eye strain and no sun glare.
Hands down, if you are getting a device on which you want to read books, lots of books, hours on end, get one with eInk.
Both the Kindle and Nook have black and white versions.
Color eReader vs Tablet
Typically Color eReaders are similar to 7 inch tablets. I am not a huge fan on 7 inch tablets to begin with but if all you are doing is watching movies or reading text, 7 inches will get the job done. If you really want to use apps, browse the web a lot, answer email, create documents, and be productive, then 7 inches isn’t what you are looking for. I recommend a full 10 inch tablet (like the iPad or Xoom).
If your primary purpose is to read or watch movies while traveling and the small screen doesn’t bother you for the occasional web browsing, then you may want a color eReader. If you really want full functionality of a tablet then get a 10 inch tablet and buy books on there (both Barnes and Noble and Amazon have apps for that).
I have recommended, and set up Color Nooks at client check-in points since they (at the time) were the most inexpensive tablets whose only purpose was to fill out two client forms. However, since their purpose is only to fill out forms, whatever device is cheapest at the time of procurement will do. This is in a business setting, of course. For personal use you can have more fun.
If you are leaning towards a tablet you may want to see my tablet recommendations.
Both the Kindle and Nook have color versions. If you are going this route you should decide on who has the better content selection and which brand you like most.
The Brand vs. Your Personal Library
As mentioned before, the best library is one that can be shared among devices. For example I can read and take notes in my text books using my Kindle, and view full page diagrams using my Kindle App on my iPad and I only had to buy the book once! If you are not fortunate enough to have a tablet, there is a Kindle for PC version available as well.
It is also nice if you are able to lend friends books or even check out books from your local library via your device. Before you buy, see what your options are. As you can always upgrade 3 years down the road, have both a tablet and black and white reader later, you want to buy into the brand that has the best options.
Right now I think the Kindle and Nook are your best bets. It is up to you to decide what fits your needs.