Choosing An eReader For Father’s Day: Kindles vs Nooks

As with every popular gift giving holiday, Kindles, Nooks, and other similar products make tempting gifts.  They aren’t cheap enough to be trivial, but they aren’t expensive enough to break the bank for most people.  They have all sorts of utility.  Most importantly, let’s face it, there is the popular stereotype of one’s parents as technologically behind to the point of being unlikely to have bought one for themselves.  Admittedly this doesn’t hold true in many families I know, but it makes a good topic for conversation, right?  So, if you’re buying an eReader for the father or fathers in your life, which do you choose?

There are advantages to each option available, perhaps more so now than ever before.  The big two, Kindle and Nook, are now so similar following the release of the new Nook that it’s probably more useful to focus on the subtle particulars of each option.  Here’s how I would divide them up for potential gift recipients.

Kindle 3G

This is now the only current generation eReader on the market to come with a 3G connection.  It’s a feature that serves a particular purpose, but for those who can make the most use of it this will come in handy.  If the father you are giving a gift either travels a lot, does not have access to wireless networks, or simply seems likely to prefer a device that just works anywhere a cell phone will work, this is probably your best option at the moment.

Kindle WiFi

This is what I would consider to be the way to go if you’re having trouble deciding.  It’s the best eReader I’ve had the pleasure of using so far.  The Kindle WiFi does everything that the Kindle 3G does, it just can’t connect to cellular networks.  If the owner has a home wireless network or enough tech savvy to manage their library via the USB cable, it is unlikely they’ll feel the lack.  It also has the advantage ofavoiding accidental extreme battery loss when one forgets to kill the wireless connection while reading. I’ve found that the 3G connection tends to waste battery power a lot faster than just the WiFi.

Kindle w/ Special Offers

Both of these Kindles are available with Special Offers.  Basically, this means that the user will see ads when browsing their library and on the screen when the Kindle is asleep.  Normally, I’d say this idea would be a little rude for a gift, but it has some advantages.  In addition to the fact that it replaces the impressively unattractive default screensavers, there is a fair chance that some of the ads will be something actually useful.  At least once already Amazon has offered a $20 gift card for $10.  Sure, it’s an ad that you’re attaching to a gift, but it would also effectively be free money.  It isn’t all bad.


The new Nook is the first major touchscreen eReader.  There’ve been others, but this is the first on the same level as the Kindle in terms of quality.  If the person you’re buying for really likes touchscreen devices, this is a no-brainer.  It also ties them to Barnes & Noble rather than Amazon for all their eBook needs.  If the father in question is a frequent customer of the brick & mortar chain, this comes with some in-store advantages that they will quite enjoy.  Overall very similar to the Kindle offerings with a couple points where it even comes out on top.  Definitely something to take a look at.

Kindle vs iPad Demand Survey

A recently released ChangeWave survey tracking consumer data in the eReading marketplace came up with some interesting results for Kindle enthusiasts this time around.  While there was a lot of data, mostly demonstrating the justifiably increasing popularity of the iPad, there are a few specific pieces that are particularly interesting for those of us interested in the future of the dedicated eReader market.

Defining the eReader:

In looking at this topic, one of the things that it seems important to keep in mind, at least to me, is that the Kindle is essentially an eBook-specific reading device.  Yes, it is nice to have the option to grab your newspaper or news feed on it, and I do these myself, but that’s not where the device shines, nor where it is really meant to stand out.  If, for the sake of these surveys, we’re going to consider everybody who looks at a blog, a magazine, or a newspaper to have been using their device as an eReader, then that includes a lot of things that are peripheral to everything besides the iPad.  Before anybody jumps down my throat on this one, I’m not claiming that there are no people who want an eReader to read their magazines on or that that’s an unimportant market, merely one that only one of the devices was ever really intended to take into account in the first place.  When it comes to specifically eBooks, the current user base numbers reflect a different balance.

Future eReader Demand:

This is perhaps the most immediately relevant bit of information to look at, for a lot of people.  While we don’t have much to go on in terms of rationale behind these purchase decisions, it is very nice to see dedicated eReaders as a whole, and the Kindle in particular, holding a strong position here. Even with the iPad having the more diverse functionality, showing 42% for the iPad against 38% for dedicated eReaders(Kindle, Nook, and Sony) with as many as 18% of respondents undecided tells me the numbers are staying pretty close.

Current eReader Ownership:

This was the most interesting of the data sets to me, when it comes right down to it.  In a survey of over 2800 respondents, iPad ownership doubled in just four months, while Kindle ownership dropped by 15%. This doesn’t mean that 15% of Kindle owners dropped their eReaders off at the dump or switched to the iPad, obviously, simply that a more significant number of people owned iPads or both iPad and Kindle devices.  Not having a copy of the report on my desk at the moment, I can’t say anything certain about methods, but it would seem likely that you hit your participant numbers faster now that the iPad has really taken off, so Kindle numbers will appear to fall as a result.


Does all this mean that the Kindle is on its way out?  Nah.  The market is growing and tablet PCs are going to take their share.  If all you want to do is read magazines and surf the web anyway, it certainly makes more sense to have one of those right now than it does an eReader.  For those of us who want to sit for hours with a good book in front of us, preferences are still pretty clearly elsewhere.