Kindle or Nook – A Win-Win Dilemma for Ravenous Readers

If you are exploring ways to enhance your reading pleasure, you may have experienced the Kindle or Nook eReader dilemma. Which of these wireless reading devices will best satisfy the reader in you, the Amazon Kindle, or the Barnes and Noble Nook?

Good question, not at all easy to answer. Of course there is no one right answer. They are both great little eBook reader devices. You can’t go wrong with either one, in fact. And they do share a number of wonderful features, such as ease of use, low cost, Wi-Fi connectivity with an option for 3G coverage, and E InkĀ® technology, which presents text and images on the display as crisply as a clear, clean printed page.

Given their many similarities, there are enough differences in the two latest versions of the products to warrant a comparison. Here are the two main areas where the Kindle 3 and the B&N Nook offer buyers different options that might factor into your buying decision:

How many eBooks can you handle?

For the purposes of perspective, imagine that you read a lot of books, say a couple of books a week. That’s a lot, easily more than most people can handle (who’s got that kind of time, right?), but we’ll go with that, roughly 100 books a year.

At that rate, it would take you 35 years to read all 3,500 books you could fit onto your Kindle 3! And it would take you 15 years to complete your Nook library of 1500 books! And that’s reading two books a week for all those years!

We’re talking about storage capacity out-of-the-box. Is that enough for you? The Kindle certainly seems to provide enough storage for most people. And probably, so too the Nook. If you want more from the Nook, you can purchase a memory card to double, triple, and even quadruple the amount of storage space.

Why would anyone want to do that, especially since you will probably upgrade to the latest and greatest eReader on the market in a few years? Well, for one thing, you may want to listen to music on your Nook, and this extra space would be able to accommodate lots of audio or video files.

Where do you want to get your books from?

Again, how much is enough, or how much is too much? This difference between the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook is enough to sway some people toward the Nook.

Amazon, which made its name by selling books online, has evolved into arguably the most trusted and convenient online shopping stores not just for books, but for just about anything imaginable. But it made its mark by selling books.

To complement its book-selling business, Amazon developed the Kindle, the first electronic book reader, or eReader. Amazon could now take its vast depository of books, convert them to an easily downloadable electronic format, and make them available almost instantly (less than a minute) to readers, eliminating shipping and handling time and costs. Not only does it make available a collection of nearly 750,000 books from its Kindle Store (most for $9.99 or less), the Kindle can also be used to read another 1.8 million out-of-copyright books that you would otherwise have to pay for if you wanted the hard copy versions.

The issue for some persons is that the Amazon Kindle Store offers its eBooks in a proprietary format, rather than the open eBook format, ePub, which is used by the Nook, the Sony Digital Reader, and public libraries. Some persons like to have the option to borrow eBooks from their local library, and for them this is a consideration.

Amazon’s massive collection of books does include the majority of the most popular and in-demand books, it should be noted.

So, which is it, Nook or Kindle?

The Kindle and Nook are both top-of-the-line eReaders that will satisfy most book lovers and avid readers. Either one, the Kindle or the Nook, is a great choice for most readers.

From our experience, the differences in storage capacity and access to books are the most significant factors for most prospective buyers and what may determine which of the two best fits their needs.

There are several other factors that should also be considered, of course, such as battery performance and replaceability, and the ability to sync your reading across multiple devices (i.e., read books from your eReader library on your iPad, blackberry, laptop, and so on).

Other features to consider include the option to lend your books to someone else, web browsing, background music while you read, text-to-speech capability (have your eReader read the book to you while you do something else), and numerous others that distinguish the latest Nook and the Kindle 3.

Mythology, Zeus, the Raven, and the Future of the Written Word

Technology seems to be advancing faster than we can keep up with it in these modern times. With bookstores closing and kindles and iPads flying off the shelves, we have to wonder how it will change the world of print. It is certainly affecting the way books are read. Will this technology impact the way books are written? Will the interactive features that these types of “e readers” create an audience with expectations for something more in their books? And if so, what does those features mean for the future of literature?

The option to look an unknown word up in the dictionary instantly is a handy feature available on e-readers and it does not seem too invasive as far as the reading experience goes. Some children’s books offer features like clicking on a picture to see it come to life or playing interactive games on a page of the book. While this doesn’t seem like a likely option for adult literature, the technology is there and it makes one wonder if it will have any impact on publishing and more importantly, the way books are written and read.

Imagine reading Edgar Allan Poe’s, The Raven, with the option of clicking on the bird and hearing him recite his famous words, “Nevermore.” Or maybe some audio features could be available complete with spooky sounds like the wind rapping at the pains outside and maybe a little creepy music? If alive today, Edgar Allan Poe may cringe at the thought, but the fact is these are possibilities. Publishers, naturally focused on selling books and making a profit, would have to be considering all of these possibilities in order to figure out how to continue to sell books. Considering the amount of time we all spend in front of screens (television, computer, movie) don’t e-readers bring with them a certain expectation? Some of the features we are so accustomed to in having on all of our many screens, would they be expected now that we are bringing book reading to a screen?

If these features are eventually expected and planned for, authors would not be able to help but consider them while writing. Just as television and film changed the way (play) scripts were written, e-readers could change the way books are written. Will we be forced to watch advertisements between chapters? Or will we see “product placement” in literature and be given the option to click on said product and get sent directly to a shopping link? You could be reading about Zeus in a book on mythology when a sidebar pops up: “Get Zeus’d with Zeus Juice, a new power drink sent from the gods!” Extreme? Maybe. Possible. Maybe. Something to think about while you flip through the pages of your e-reader and consider what lies ahead for the future of publishing. Some writers have already started to wonder about the rapid advance of technology and its effects on how we think, learn, feel, and experience the world. Brave New World describes a dystopia where people live in perfect, plush comfort, their senses constantly pleasured, their every thought and feeling channeled in a way where effort and discomfort of any kind, by it emotional, physical or cerebral, are discouraged. Would a person who was conditioned to this mode of thought and life ever understand the horror experienced by the narrator in The Raven or the psychological turmoil explored by Shakespeare in Hamlet? Unlikely.

Another thing to look at the use of the internet and publishing. Consider Twitter. (Sorry.) Some writers have experimented with using Twitter to put their novel out. In our seemingly short-attention span culture will we want to read in tiny bites rather than sit with a book for hours? All strange and frightening thoughts when we, as readers, appreciate the many aspects of simply sitting down and reading a book for pleasure, slowly flipping through the tangible pages, appreciating and contemplating the words on each one.

Ravens Are Flippin’ Marvellous!

The return of the raven in the UK is one of the great wildlife success stories of this century. Previously persecuted to the edge of extinction, the raven is now once again commonplace in our hills and mountains and can be enjoyed by all. For the uninitiated, the raven is easily identifiable by the black body and beak, it’s size (it’s almost twice the size of the carrion crow) and uniquely by the “honking” call (carrion crows and rooks “caw”). Venture out into any hilly area in the UK and you’ll soon see them soaring and hear them honking!!

Most birds are shy and understandably fearful of humans, but ravens are especially wary. The traditional method of getting close to birds is to set some appropriate bait food and construct a hide nearby. Once birds used to the hide are feeding regularly, enter the hide and wait. The process can be speeded up by using an accomplice. When feeding birds are present, two people enter the hide and the birds scatter. The accomplice leaves shortly afterwards and, based on the “danger come, danger gone” principle, most birds will then assume the coast is clear and recommence feeding. Where ravens are concerned, there’s a huge problem – they can count!! Ravens can easily work out that one of the humans is still in the hide and steadfastly refuse to resume feeding. The answer of course lies in a sex shop. Yes, believe or not, bird watchers have bought inflatable dolls for raven watching (at least that’s what they tell their wives…) Two bird watchers enter the hide carrying said doll in a bag. Once inside, the doll is inflated and dressed in one of the bird watchers’ coat and trousers (I’m not making this up). The accomplice leaves arm in arm with his new best friend, and the ravens, satisfied that both humans have left, will finally come down and feed. Get those photos!!

One of the most endearing behavioural characteristics of ravens is “flipping”, or flying upside down for short periods. Flipping is unique to ravens. A flip is quite often accompanied by a delighted “honk” and is often performed to impress a mate. It can be part of a vertical dive or, really impressively, performed during horizontal flight. Sometimes a single raven will perform a flip in front of hikers. Why is not really known, but it’s nice to think that it’s simply showing off!! Whatever the reason, it’s a breathtaking sight and has been the unexpected highlight of many a trek.

Studies have shown that raven calls have specific meanings. Three quick honks means “danger!”. Five softer honks means “everything’s OK”. If you encounter ravens on the ground, try giving five soft honks and you’ll be amazed how close they’ll let you get (make sure no-one else is around or you might get sectioned!!) Answering the calls of flying ravens is also great fun (and sectionable). They’ll readily fly in to investigate and may even flip for you!!

Ravens LOVE golf balls!! It’s not really known why they steal golf balls, but it may be because they think they are eggs. This theory doesn’t really make sense as the raven is very intelligent and would soon work out that golf balls are not food – but they still do it anyway! It’s more likely to be a way of impressing a potential mate (look at my balls!!) or just good fun. Either way, it doesn’t make them very popular with golfers. At Church Stretton Golf Club in Shropshire there’s even a local rule explaining what to do if a raven steals your ball.

Every Spring, ravens gather in impressively large groups. In the Shropshire Hills in the UK, up to 150 have regularly been observed. The gatherings are thought to be unattached singles looking for a mate and generally occur where there is a ready food source (in Shropshire, stillborn lambs, sheep dung and afterbirth!!) Seeing so many large birds trying to win a mate with increasingly daring aerial displays is one of nature’s great spectacles. There’s no doubt about it, ravens are flippin’ marvellous!!