Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nook vs Kindle: Some New Thoughts

I'm often asked by other librarians which eReader I would recommend, and I'm always quick to mention that regardless of what I say, they need to ask themselves the question "What is the purpose for the eReader or mobile device in my library, classroom, or school?"  Sometimes when a new piece of technology arrives on the scene, we think,

I have to have this--it's what I've been waiting for; this piece of technology will transform my teaching and student learning and literacy development.

Frankly, I've yet to see this happen (although there are positive rumblings of this very thing happening with the iPad).  However, how many schools have equipped every classroom and library with an interactive whiteboard, yet it is not being used any more effectively than a regular white board?  Or, worse yet--the technology is only being used to augment strictly lecture style instruction?  What I've noticed is that teachers who use technology effectively have transformed their teaching rather than the technology being responsible for any transformation.

The same applies to the use of any mobile device in a library/classroom.  So...what is the purpose for purchasing any mobile device is one of the most important questions that can be asked and answered.  How will it be used?  Is it just an electronic version of a print book or does it offer students opportunities to increase their vocabulary by using the online dictionary that allows them to learn words in context?  Is it just a mobile device that mimics the typical library lab computer or can an autistic student who has trouble concentrating in a computer lab environment use an iPad to help with focus while searching through online resources?  Those were some of my questions I had; everyone has their own set.  After the questions are asked and possibilities considered, movement towards piloting a mobile device or two needs to take place.

Be courageously progressive but cautious remains my motto for purchasing any mobile devices.  In our media center, we decided to start with just two Nooks.  I like the Nook because of the local customer service, the library lending options, and most importantly... the students prefer the Nook to the Kindle.  However, in recent months there have been rumors about the sale of Barnes and Noble and the possibility of physical bookstores becoming extinct in the near future (similar to the DVD rental stores).

Also, the Kindle will soon be able to borrow books from the public library according to a recent news article "Amazon to Allow Library Lending of Kindle Books."  With this new information (and speculation about physical bookstore extinction), I have been asking myself if I made the correct decision choosing the Nook over the Kindle or Sony for our student use, and my answer is "Yes" only because I didn't purchase an entire fleet of these devices; I started small.

When I look back at the questions I've asked (and still ask) about mobile devices and student use, it becomes less about what piece of technology should be purchased and more about why it's being purchased.  As the list of students on our "wait list" grew for wanting to check out the Nook, we purchased two more (Color Nooks for the second round).  The wait list continued to grow, so we ordered an additional two, which should be arriving shortly.  Our next step is to have two of our Nooks to house required reading material for class, three for circulating young adult literature (that is also used in many of our English classes), and one Color Nook to remain in the library to use for magazines.  If there is no need for additional devices, I will not purchase them.

Will I switch to Kindles or another still-to-be-developed eReader in the future?  Perhaps.  I may be forced to or what another eReader offers may one day better suit our student's learning needs.  Currently, the Nook works for our students and the Color Nook also allows them to use our databases and other online resources for student research as well as to read classroom required material.  The eReader is just a tool--not the answer for increasing literacy or student learning.  That's our job as librarians and teachers.


  1. I've just discovered your blog and I'm excited. As a teacher librarian in an Australian secondary school I've been toying with the idea of exploring why and how we might incorporate eReaders and eBooks into our collection. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Most of the people are still confused purchasing a suitable ereader for them, because the problem is there are some choices available and every one claims to be the best. Going through some genuine amazon kindle dx review will surly help them as it was the case with me. Thanks a lot for your help.

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