Kindle vs. Nook: Which e-reader is better in bed? [Video]

<i>This post has been corrected, as indicated below.</i>

When I curled up with a guilty-pleasure book on my first Kindle, I would always wake up with my face resting on the screen, which was streaked with the drool that can accompany sleep. And, because I had been reading before drifting off, the bedroom lights stayed on all night.

That was when I was single. But that just won’t do when someone else shares the bedroom with you.

Barnes and Noble claims its Nook Simple Touch e-reader with “GlowLight” is “better in bed” than Amazon’s Kindle. We took that claim to the mattress and took both the $99 Kindle Touch and the $139 Nook with a built-in light to bed.


By candlelight at sunset, there’s no real difference between the e-readers aside from the Kindle displaying ads. But in the dark of night, the Nook does outshine the Kindle.

Aside from being a hair wider and a few hairs lighter than the Kindle, the Nook literally lit up at lights-out time with its internal illumination, allowing for continued reading without also disturbing my husband and sleeping child. Depending on how dark the room is, you can adjust the level of brightness. I tested it in the dark of a daytime power outage in the office as well as at bedtime.

Of course, some may reply that they have an iPad to read in a dark space. That’d absolutely work -- and there’s a very serviceable app to pick up both Kindle and Nook books as well as Apple’s own iBooks. But in the light of day, the reality is that screen does nothing for you in the sunlight. It’s just a big, dark reflective screen.

As well as the Nook worked in the dark, it performed just as admirably in the unrelenting sun of midday on my patio, between the e-ink display and the built-in, anti-glare screen protector.

The screen was responsive to even a light touch. Turning the page on screen took less finger pressure than turning a page in a physical book.

And speaking of physical, the device is notably light, weighing in at just under 7 ounces, and is fronted by a very readable 6-inch screen with 600 x 800 resolution. You can choose among seven font sizes and six styles to aid in readability of the text.

The battery was robust and long-lasting, even while using the GlowLight. You’ll get even longer battery life through judicious use.

Some other attributes of the device include 2 gigabytes of internal memory, which can store about 1,000 books and is expandable to 32 gigabytes via microSD card. The Kindle Touch comes with 4 gigabytes of internal storage, but it isn’t expandable.

With competition from oodles of backlit tablets on the market these days, e-readers, which are all about making reading more accessible and enticing, should absolutely come self-illuminating as a standard to facilitate better bedtime enlightenment.

Is the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight worth $139? Well, that’s a question you’d have to ask the person whose sleep you disturb when you read late into night with the light on how much their Zs are worth to them.


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[For the Record, 4:49 p.m. May 30: An earlier version of the video on this post said the Nook was under 7 pounds. Although most current e-readers are, in fact, under 7 pounds, this one is also under 7 ounces.]