TRE 30 The Wolf Hall Tournament of E-Readers

I purchased four e-book copies of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel–one each for Sony Reader, Kobo, nook, and Kindle–in order to compare the reading experience for the same book on four leading e-readers. After eliminating the devices that do not offer dictionary, notes, and highlights, the tournament ends with a nook v. Kindle battle through five tests. You’ll learn which device was the victor, as well as many details about the reading experience on competing e-readers. Recorded in Cambridge, Mass., on August 15, 2010, before release of the Kindle 3 and nook 2.

Click here for the Inkmesh listings of Wolf Hall at the four e-book stores mentioned in podcast.

Click here for a review of Wolf Hall in The New Yorker.

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31 Responses to “TRE 30 The Wolf Hall Tournament of E-Readers”

  1. Chris Schofield Says:

    Nice comparison Len, I had personally thought it was closer between the Kindle and Nook however the touch screen on the Nook just doesn’t cut it as you state.

  2. Rick Askenase Says:

    Excellent video and a clear presentation. Other than library borrowing, I just can’t see ANY benefit for the nook over the Kindle. Add to it the much smaller ebook store at B & N, and the customer support issue, which you mentioned, and it is clear that Kindle wipes the floor with nook. And THAT is before the new Kindle is even out.

  3. laila Says:

    Great, delighted as a KINDLE owner that KINDLE swept the floor! But on a reading device I would have thought screen quality would also be one of the tests? Or are they all too similar to make that worth doing?

    I do think your presentation brought home the fact that though APPLE fans keep stressing the fact that KINDLE is only a single-purpose (ie reading) device, there are many aspects of reading, and the KINDLE really heightens and enables that experience.

  4. Cathy Says:

    Great video. I think it’s really important for people to see how much harder it is to use the dictionary, highlight, find your highlights, and search on a Nook. One thing I wanted to point out though. You said the nook can’t search for a character, but I think the issue you had has to do with the fact that the Nook only searches FORWARD. On p. 121 of the nook manual ( it says that it only searches forward from where you are – pointless if you want to find where you read about a character previously! If it DOES find an occurrence in the future, you can pick “previous” to find an occurrence in the past, but if there is no future occurrence, you can’t search backwards. Crazy crazy crazy.

  5. Kathy Pinnt Says:

    I love the ereader comparison. It makes me happy that I have purchased the Kindle. I am just waiting for delivery.

  6. goblinbox Says:

    You are so awesome, man. Thanks for spending nearly $70 to bring us this comparison.

    If you’d bought the treeware version of the book, you could have loaned it to four friends and then sold it to a used a bookstore.

    DRM is so stupid. DRM is so stupid. DRM is so stupid.

  7. Dianne Lewis Says:

    I was given the first Kindle for my birthday 2 years ago (i left a BIG hint on my Amazon Want List). I have not enjoyed anything more in my life than the Kindle. I even bought myself the 2nd one. I have read so many books, do so much research and just cannot get along without it.

    Also, I have Fibromyalgia and holding a book can be very difficult. The Kindle makes it easy to read, even in bed. I also live in a motorhome and this makes having a library SO much easier.

    In short…. I am in love with Kindle!!

    Dianne Lewis

  8. Pam Says:

    Great comparison. I have the first generation Kindle and recently bought the new version of the KindleDX. It will always be Kindle for me!!! After seeing your comparison, I learned even more why the Kindle is superior.

  9. lexi brittain Says:

    i absolutely love my kindle. there is no way i could go back to dtb’s. also, i have no interest in any other device. i haven’t seen another company who can offer anything more than amazon has already given me. its really great to see the kindle come out on top!

  10. Yenta Says:

    Thanks so much for doing this. I just ordered the Kindle 3 with the international connectivity. I have the Kindle 1, but it is beat up and it was time to upgrade. Glad the Kindle won.

  11. Linda Says:

    So glad to see a real comparison. I had a Kindle 2 and loved it, but have traded it in and am waiting for my graphite Kindle 3. I was very, very happy with my Kindle. I believe I read faster, and the dictionary and other features were extremely helpful, especially when reading an historical book. I’m sure I didn’t even begin to use it fully as I only had it for a short while. A friend, also a big reader, has an iPad and loves it. (She had a Kindle before the iPad.) One drawback to the iPad is the backlit screen. I want to be able to read anywhere, in any lighting, and you cannot do that on the iPad. My Kindle’s screen was extremely easy to read in all lighting conditions, and I suspect the 3 will be even better. I know the nook has apps for phones and the PC, too, but that is one thing I like about the Kindle as well. If I’m somewhere without my Kindle and am stuck waiting, I can use my iPhone and pick up right where I left off. I can do the same on my laptop, although I think the iPhone app is better. I’m using it exclusively while I wait for my 3.
    Thank you for your thorough review. I look forward to a future comparison of the next edition of the top two readers, although I suspect Kindle 3 will win again.

  12. Michael Wells Says:

    I am a Kindle user so of course I’m delighted that it took such high honors in this test, but I’m even more delighted to see how knowledgeable you were about the devices you were comparing! So many times you see people reviewing eReaders who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, and not just bloggers. I recently saw Fox News claim the Nook and Kindle were impossible to read in the sun.

    You did sound like you knew what you were talking about and actually practiced and tried these tests before your showdown, so it wasn’t someone just fumbling around trying to figure it out. You actually knew how the functions worked and were able to give them a fair review based on that. I have to admit I am a bit dumbfounded at the search and highlights on the Nook. Until you said that you had actually called Nook support for help I was sure you must have been missing something, but it is obvious you weren’t.

    So thank you for not only reaffirming my purchases, but also for doing your homework and getting it right. I only wish more people who did these sorts of reviews were half as thorough.

  13. Linda Says:

    PS: I believe the Amazon/Kindle support is probably the best. Having been an Amazon customer since 1998, I’ve had the occasion to call them for various issues (UPS losing something, a set of scratched DVDs, etc.), and I have never had a bad experience. They absolutely aim to please and make it right. I would expect nothing less from their Kindle support team.

  14. Grandpa John Says:

    Too bad you didn’t include the Pandigital Novel in your test. Many of us think it is the best e-Reader and much more besides that is currently available.

  15. Michele Says:

    Really appreciated the different features explained. I will probably use more of these features on my kindle now.

  16. Emily Says:

    I’ve had a Kindle (original and now K2) for two years. Love it. Had picked up a Sony pocket reader as well, but recently picked up a Nook on eBay because I found out that yes, you can put ePubs from Sony, Borders and Kobo on a Nook. You can’t put non-ePub content from B&N on the Sony, though. Because of all my iPhone apps I’ve picked up books from them all – so I made the move to the Nook. And yes, it was pretty simple to move all my ePubs to the Nook once I figured out the process (through Adobe Digital Editions).
    I agree the Kindle wins, though – I just am not loving the touch screen. I keep hitting things I don’t mean to, and it just isn’t as intuitively simple as the Kindle is. There are little things that are nice about the Nook, but overall, function (Kindle) wins over form for me.
    Thanks for the read-off!

  17. Jim Says:

    Thanks so much for doing this comparison. It really helped me make up my mind to buy a Kindle.

    PS: Your camera work isn’t very steady when you’re shooting the devices handheld, and you move it around on purpose too much…it makes me queasy. If you want to take it to the next level use your tripod the whole time!

  18. Jack Earl Says:

    Len, you are my hero. I listen to your podcast every Monday while working (I am a window cleaner). I finally purchased the Kindle 2 a month ago after listening to you for several months. The Kindle has rekindled my love for books. My favorite book is the One Year Bible but I am reading at least three at a time. Keep up the good work.

  19. Jack Earl Says:

    Len, you are my hero. I have been listening to the Kindle Kronicles for several months. I finally purchased the Kindle 2 about a month ago. It has rekindled my love for reading. I read 4 or 5 books at a time but my favorite is the One Year Bible. I believe that the Bible is probably the most important and rewarding book that I can read.

  20. Randall McCraney Says:

    If I wasn’t quite sold on Kindle before I certainly am now! I loved this review. It was just what I needed to make me buy a Kindle. Now I have to decide which one. About a year ago when I first heard of the Kindle I decided to wait for a newer version. I was a little put off with the fact that it did not have a light. To my way of thinking it seems pretty basic. Just plain common sense!

  21. James Says:

    Randall … The e-ink display that all of these e-readers use makes a backlight impossible. There are plenty of lights designed with e-readers in mind that can easily clip on and work very effectively. The new kindle even has a cover with a light built in that draws it’s power from the kindle itself.

    This was a very informative review. I had no idea the nook was so far behind … even my 1st generation kindle would beat it in these tests, and that’s not as easy to use as the kindle 2 shown here with the 5-way controller.

  22. Linda Says:

    He could have read the books he purchased from Sony and Kobo on the Nook and it’s not difficult. I wonder how hard he ‘tried’ or if he read the directions in the manual. In fact, if you look at the Inkmesh link included under the review you can see that every single store aside from Amazon lists the Nook as a compatible device, the Kindle is only listed under Amazon. You can not only also read library books on the Nook because it reads the Adobe DRM but try any book for free, for an hour, in store.

    Having tried both side by side myself I agree with him that for highlighting and dictionary the Kindle is better. The Kindle is a little lighter which is nice but also wider, with Nook’s soft back and more narrow size it’s much more comfortable in hand.

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  27. Akshay Says:

    Nice review.
    BUT please work on the camera handling. By the time I finished the video, the shots where the camera was in your hand, were beginning to make me feel nauseous.
    Either, put the camera on the stand, and move the devices or find someone else to do the camera work for you.
    The problem appears to be because you are using both hands, one on camera, another on devices.

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    There is definately a great deal to find out about this subject.
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