Amazon And B&N Battle For E-Reader Sales

Paperwhite or Glowlight - Who Will Win?

Amazon and Barnes and Noble are at it again. This time last year it was all about the Kindle Touch versus the Nook Simple Touch. This year both companies have two new champions slugging it out - the Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook Simple Touch With Glowlight.

In the run up to Christmas 2011, despite the fact that the Nook was available on the market weeks in advance of the Kindle, and despite the fact that many reviewers felt it have a slight edge on the Kindle Touch (in terms of technical functionality), Amazon won the battle for festive sales.

Fast forward 12 months and it looks like a similar story. B&N got their Nook Glowlight out well in advance of Amazon's Paperwhite. Nevertheless, it looks like it's Amazon who has the momentum at the moment, and Amazon looks to be the odds on favorite to get its reader under the maximum number of Christmas trees again this year.

It must be more than a little frustrating for Barnes and Noble. Their marketing team must be starting to wonder just what they have to do in order to break Amazon's apparent stranglehold on the e-reader market.

However, whilst it was possible to have some sympathy with B&N over the 2011 festive sales season, the situation is slightly different this year. On the face of it, Amazon does appear to have the best reader just at the moment.

kindle paperwhite vs nook glowlight

Amazon has, somewhat bullishly, declared that its new Paperwhite is "the world's most advanced e-reader". The fact of the matter is that it may well be a valid assertion.

It's certainly the most recently released - and, in the world of electronic gadgets, that often means the most advanced.

It has a new whiter e-ink display, which has a higher number of pixels per inch than the Glowlight. The end result is that it's very good to read on. Text is clear and sharp and the contrast is high.

Both the Paperwhite and the Glowlight have special lights which project light onto the surface of the display rather than back-lighting it as a computer screen would be. This allows the benefit of reduced eye strain and a much improved reading experience. It really is like reading text printed on paper.

However, the Paperwhite light is more evenly distributed over the reading surface than the Glowlight's (although there are still some "hotspots" near the bottom of the display). That's due to Amazon's special light guide which spreads the light from low energy LEDs uniformly across the surface of the screen.

The low power lighting technology also means that the Paperwhite has better battery life than the Glowlight. Amazon claims up to 8 weeks between battery charges for the Kindle. That's based on an average of half an hour's reading per day - with the light on.

The Nook Glowlight, according to B&N's website, has a battery life of "over 1 month". That's also based on 30 minutes of reading a day, with the light on.

Looking at the Glowlight, it seems fairly obvious that, whereas the new Kindle is an update on the earlier Kindle Touch, the Nook is basically a Nook Simple Touch with the addition of a light. Even its full name - the "Nook Simple Touch With Glowlight" - testifies to that.

Not that the Glowlight is without its own benefits. For example, it has physical page turn buttons at the side of the display so that you can navigate through books without having to swipe the screen. It also has a slot for an SD card which will let Nook users add up to an additional 32 GB of memory.

That's enough to store something like 30,000 books. Whether that's hugely beneficial or not, especially when you consider that the 2 GB supplied as standard on both the Nook and the Kindle is sufficient for approximately 1,000 books, is debatable. Both Amazon and B&N also provide free cloud storage for content bought through their respective websites.

The other aspect in favor of the Nook is the fact that it comes with "no annoying ads". $ 119 gets you a Paperwhite with Special Offers - adverts in other words. These appear on the screensaver and home pages, so they won't interefere with your reading experience. However, if you don't like the sound of that, you can pay an extra $ 20 to be rid of the ads - or buy the Nook Glowlight.

Kindle Paperwhite Reader User Feedback

And The Winner Is?

Paperwhite or Glowlight?

The Paperwhite is a full update on the Kindle Touch whereas the Nook Glowlight is a minor revision of the Nook Simple Touch - and it shows.

Unless you have some philosophical objection to e-readers with adverts on them, or unless you have a really strong preference for using page turn buttons rather than swiping a touch screen, the Paperwhite is the clear winner.

Quite frankly, you would need to be slightly contrary to buy a reader from anyone other than Amazon right now. However, there will be another set of upgrades and updates along soon - probably with the Nook being first in line again - and that could change in a heartbeat.

Entry Level Kindle

Kindle, 6" E Ink Display, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers (Previous Generation - 5th)
Amazon Price: $69.00 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 5, 2016)
Don't let the "entry level" tag or the low price fool you - this is a great reader for anyone who just wants to read e-books. Holds over 1,000 e-books and has a battery life of up to 4 weeks between charges. Great value for money.