There are many different eBook readers available on the market these days, but three stand out from the pack: the Amazon Kindle, the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Apple iPad.  Each has their own pluses and minuses and all are fabulous devices, but its easy to get overwhelmed with all of the features. If you’re in the market for an eBook reader and are looking at the Kindle, Nook or iPad, check out my handy guide below which will help you make your decision.

The Amazon Kindle

There are two varieties of the Kindle – the Wi-Fi only version, and the Wi-Fi + 3G.  The Wi-Fi only version is priced at $139, while the Wi-Fi + 3G version is priced at $189. Amazon touts their new 3rd generation devices as their best yet.

The Kindle sports a 6-inch E Ink screen, which if you are not familiar with, is much easier on the eyes than your traditional laptop or desktop screen.  Looking at one, it looks amazingly like a matte piece of paper, and there is no glare or reflections.  It’s exceptionally light and sized closer than ever to a mass market paperback book, so it doesn’t feel like you are holding a clunky device.

The downside of  the Kindle is its refresh rate, which Amazon says they have improved.  It’s still not quite as fast as flipping a page in a traditional book, and this is because of the E Ink screen.  But, in terms of the Kindle, it’s their best reading experience yet.

The Kindle also features the Webkit browser, which is sufficient if you just want to look something up online while you’re reading, but it’s definitely not for heavy or regular internet use.  Still, it’s interesting to see the Web in full-on grayscale.

The latest version also supports PDF files, which is a major bonus, but it does not yet support EPUB files (boo!). There’s also a feature that allows you to share your books.

Who Should Buy It:

Those who just want a nice reading experience, and who aren’t concerned about all the bells and whistles.  As of publication, the Kindle Store has just over 900,000 titles to choose from, so you’ll have a fairly good selection of books to choose from.  If you’re an Amazon Associate and earn gift certificates for your commission, this might also sway your choice because you can apply them to your purchase.  The same goes for SwagBucks users who might cash in their points for Amazon gift cards.

The Barnes & Noble Nook

There are actually two varieties of the Nook to choose from, the Nook ($149) and NookColor ($249).  The standard Nook features a 6-inch E Ink screen and is most similar to the Kindle.  If all you want to do is read, this is a great device.

The NookColor features a 7-inch, full-color touchscreen LCD screen, and offers enhanced books, magazines, newspapers, & interactive kids books, and can be used as a media player as well.

Both the Nook and NookColor include the unique LendMe feature, which allows you to share eBooks with your friends, something that the Kindle lacks.  B&N also has a Lifetime Library, which allows you to store your favorite books for download anytime, anywhere, with any device that you have the Nook app installed on.

With over 2 million titles to choose from, you’ve got a great selection of books to read.

Who Should Buy It:

If you want lots of choice in terms of titles, the Nook has it.  B&N has more than twice the number of titles available as the Kindle.  If you want an upgraded reading experience, with color instead of grayscale, a nice internet browsing experience, and lots of features, get the NookColor.

The Apple iPad

The Apple iPad is not a dedicated eBook reader.  Rather, it is a computer device with eBook reader functionalities and capabilities. The iPad features a 9.1-inch full-color touchscreen LCD, and because of it’s larger screen size you can turn the screen horizontally and have 2 pages of an eBook open at a time, just like a real book.  Just like the NookColor though, the downside is that it is LCD, so you might not be able to read on it comfortably for as long as you could on a device with an E Ink screen.

The iTunes store offers you both eBooks and audiobooks that you can download to your iPad (as well as your iPhone and iPod). The 2nd generation model that was recently released starts at 16GB of storage and $499, with prices and storage capacity going up from there.

Who Should Buy It:

Casual readers or those who want a tablet computer first that can also serve as an eBook reader.  Apple fanboys and iTunes addicts will also like this.

My thoughts:

If you’re a serious reader and don’t care about frills, go for the Kindle or the Nook.  If you want something with all the bells and whistles, the NookColor is your best value and the iPad is the best all-in-one device.  If I were to be in the market to buy an eBook reader now, my choice would be the NookColor, which you can also reportedly hack and turn into an Android tablet computer.

Readers – what eBook reader do you have? Do you like it? What made you choose it over the others? Do you have any additional tips and advice for our readers? Please share in the comments!

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