Gone are the days when the eBook reader market was cornered by Amazon. Before Amazon had a virtual monopoly since it was the only product on the market. Even when other readers came out Amazon made sure it could control the market by making many authors sign exclusive contracts with them.
But Amazon’s strangle hold on the eBook business is no more and the many Online bookstores must compete on their own merits. Online bookstores are inevitably tied to their signature eBook reader. Most have some sort of protocol that make impossible, or at least very inconvenient to transfer an eBook formatted for their device.
As such when we compare online bookstores we must also compare the eBook readers that cater to those bookstores.
The Amazon Kindle remains the most common and popular eBook reader. It is a no-frills reader with an illuminated back for reading in the dark. Joined at the hip to the Kindle store Amazon’s reader has the widest range of ebooks and at the cheapest prices. You can even get some books free if the copyright has already expired.
The Kindle is cheap and the books for the Kindle are inexpensive as well. However it cannot access ePub formats so you can’t ‘borrow’ books you have to buy them off the Kindle store. Also the reader is incompatible with other eBook formats. Worse, if you switch to a different device all your Kindle store purchases will be useless as they are incompatible.
Barnes and Noble: Nook
The Nook eBook reader is the Barnes and Noble response to the Kindle. It is somewhat less finicky than the Kindle. The Nook bookstore offers more than 2.5 million titles and even has a free book on Fridays. It uses the ePub format which mean you can buy books from other stores and even borrow books from your local library.
The Nook has an SD card slot for expanding memory so its low internal storage is not so bad. Although some people will find this constricting as without an SD card the Nook can store only 240 eBooks as opposed to the 1400 eBook capacity of the basic Kindle. Also access to the Nook Store is limited to areas with Wifi since the Nook lacks 3G or LTE capabilities.
Apple Apps Store: iPad
The Apple iPad is probably the most high-end of all eBook readers if it is treated as such. It can do so much more. The Apple App Store was originally devised as a trailblazing way to share music in a format called iTunes.
As with iTunes, Apple’s foray into eBooks is marked by a desire to maintain a level of exclusivity. While not the monolithic monopoly that Amazon once had, Apple tries to maintain considerable control over who can access its content. iTunes used to be formatted in a way that only Apple iPods could play them similar to how Amazon made its content exclusive to the Kindle.
The difference is that Apple products can read other formats. ePub and Pdf formats can be read on an iPhone, iPod or iPad just as easily as the default format. Since Apple is trying to compete with Amazon and Barnes and Noble its selection of books is priced competitively.
The only drawback for Apple is that its products are priced rather high relative to Kindle and Nook. As such it has to market its products as more than just eBook readers. It has to demonstrate more value by showing off the other capabilities of the Apple product aside from being a reader.
At the end of the day the choice is yours. Barnes and Noble is almost exclusively in the business of publishing books. It prides itself in transitioning from published of physical books to eBooks. Amazon is similar but has other lines of business like shipping. Apple is primarily a consumer electronics provider. So if you’re only looking for the best books and eBook reading perhaps Barnes and Noble would work best.