March 2011 home page

Virginia Lawrence | Caminito Del Rocio


NOOKcolor on the left; Kindle on the right. Photo Virginia Lawrence


Last May a cloud of volcanic ash cast its shadow over European airspace. Having once spent 36 hours in Heathrow Airport, I could sympathize with the thousands of stranded travelers. In fact, fearing lest I, too, be subjected to a 72-hour “ash” layover, I decided to buy an Amazon Kindle - an alternative to reading the departures board for 3 days.

As it turned out, when I flew to Europe in mid-July the only delay occurred at Liberty Airport in Newark. We just couldn’t seem to get off the ground. So strapped into my seat and going nowhere, I read a book review in the Kindle version of the International Herald Tribune, downloaded a free sample from the Kindle store, and ended up buying the book – all before take-off. This book saw me all the way across the Atlantic, in fact. The very next day, atop a modest 1000-meter Alp, inside a 300-year-old French farmhouse with 3-foot stone walls, I downloaded the latest version of the IHT. Thus began my love affair with the Kindle.

About three weeks ago, on January 24, I made a $250 impulse purchase at Barnes & Noble – I came home with their new NOOKcolor. I knew I wouldn’t be able to download anything outside of the States. Furthermore, I knew the battery wouldn’t even get me to Newark, let alone to Europe. But there was no way I could resist the NOOK’s high-definition backlit screen with its millions of colors and its touch-screen functionality. For me it was the NOOKcolor over the Kindle, hands down.

On February 19 my 3-week idyll with the NOOKcolor came to an end. I had finished the book I was reading and decided to buy a new one. Barnes & Noble has a huge selection. But nowhere, in either the NOOK store or on the B&N website, could I find any semblance of a book review.

The Amazon website doesn’t do much better. However, the Kindle itself does allow you to click on a menu item called “book description” where you can find a synopsis of every book in the Kindle store. So basing my choice on a Kindle description, I downloaded Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove in FREE sample form on both my NOOK and my Kindle, and then spent several hours reading the same sample on my two eReaders.

Ultimately, at the end of the afternoon, I decided to buy Lonesome Dove on the Kindle, because I felt the Kindle had better dictionary entries.

So, is the Kindle better? Darned if I know. The Kindle has a battery life of one month, can be used globally, provides lots of info about whatever book you are reading or might want to buy, and has better dictionary entries. But the screen is dark. The NOOK screen, on the other hand, with its millions of colors and its touch screen navigation remains incredibly seductive. Even odds on where my heart is heading!



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