I am testing my ability to post a reply to this thread.
I bought my Amazon Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi on Black Friday with the basic leather cover. I downloaded 107 out of copyright Kindle books through Whispernet at no cost whatsoever. I am most impressed by the ergonomics of my Kindle and its light weight. I am glad that I purchased the 3G + Wi-Fi version because I found out that my Kindle cannot connect to the Wi-Fi network at New Jersey Institute of Technology due to the fact that I must enter my University Computing ID and password which only works for notebook and netbook PCs along with Apple laptops. I am able to connect to my Verizon FiOS Internet through my Wi-Fi network at home using my Kindle. I search for and download all of my books on my ASUS N61JV-X2 notebook PC through the Amazon website and download it through Whispernet. I have not yet tried other bookstores outside of Amazon. Since purchasing the Kindle, I have read three entire e-books and I spend at least one hour per day reading classics that were a part of my undergraduate coursework at Essex County College and Montclair State University when I was a Liberal Arts and English Creative Writing major. It is refreshing to be able to carry so many e-books in one device that is so portable. I can slip it into my SOLO messenger bag with my laptop and accessories while taking the NJ Transit bus to NJIT or walking around on campus. I have not downloaded Adobe .PDF files and sent it to my free Amazon Kindle e-mail address with instructions to convert it to the Kindle format as of yet. I may utilize this free service if my textbook for Operating Systems is available electronically for the upcoming spring 2011 semester. All in all, I am glad that I finally got my Kindle as it has been my favorite gadget that I have purchased in 2010 even more so than my ASUS laptop.
I also saw the Barnes & Noble Nook Color at one of their stores while I was in New York City last weekend. It is a hybrid between an e-book reader and a limited functionality tablet. What I did not like about it is the fact that there are no buttons to move forward or backward while reading e-books. I have to swipe the screen to simulate the turning of pages which got to be annoying after an extended preview of the said product. I also disliked the fact that there is no 3G feature available and the battery life is rated up to 8 hours on a single charge. The fact that it is priced $60.00 USD more expensive than the Amazon Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi also turned me off. Last but certainly not least, the touch capacitive color LCD screen causes eyestrain after extended viewing periods. I understand Barnes & Nobles' decision to bring a color e-book reader to the market, but I am of the opinion that they could have improved the performance of the page turning feature by adding dedicated buttons just like their original Nook readers with E-Ink technology. The contrast on the Nook Color is average and text appears a little soft regardless of the font size. The neat feature about the Barnes & Noble Nook Color is the ability to swap out microSDHC cards so that you have an unlimited amount of storage capacity for more e-books, magazines, newspapers, etc.
The original Nook just got another firmware update to version 1.5. It improves the page turning speed and the 3G performance while adding some of the features found in the Nook Color with the exception of the social media connectivity (i.e., Facebook and Twitter) and multimedia applications. I thought about purchasing the Nook 3G + Wi-Fi, but it is bulkier and heavier than the Amazon Kindle 3G + Wi-Fi and it is a little bit more expensive.
On a somewhat related note, I also previewed the Sharper Image Literati at a local Best Buy store. It is taller, thicker, and heavier than the Barnes & Noble Nook Color and it features a full keyboard with a row for numbers. Priced at $99.99 USD, it offers a lot of value for the money by giving you a color TFT LCD screen and an included cover plus a slot for a SDHC card. My mother bought one from ShopNBC. It has built in 802.11 B/G Wi-Fi just like the Nook Color, but it uses the Kobo bookstore which is Borders Books & Music. My concern is that Borders is closing up a lot of stores across America and their future viability is in question. I have similar concerns about Barnes & Noble since I used to work for them years ago; they are closing down numerous bookstores nationwide though not as quickly as Borders.
This is the primary reason why I chose to go with Amazon because they are not just a bookstore and it is still a growing company with a healthy outlook. I still recall the numbers of customers that visited my Barnes & Noble bookstore in New Jersey that decided to stop doing business with the company and switched over to Amazon because their prices were more competitive and their return policy was much more generous with far fewer hassles.
In the end, the real loser is not the bookstores, but your local public library. With this weak economy, stagnant job market, and decreasing budget here in New Jersey, my local public library has had to make cuts and concessions just to stay open. They are an anachronism. I cannot rent e-books, download digital music, or stream movies from my local public library to my home. Within this new decade, many research companies are predicting the end of CD and DVD-Video sales as digital downloads and streaming movies replace them. We have had threads discussing these trends here at Head-Fi. Blu-Ray technology is here to stay for another couple of years, but I expect it to go by the wayside by the end of this new decade as the cost and prevalence of always on, high speed, broadband connections become more affordable and accessible to all. The cost of computers especially PCs have plummeted to their lowest price points as PC manufacturers can only expect to earn up to 5% margins on their new product sales. Desktop PC sales have all but been curtailed as notebook PC sales are still growing at a strong clip and now tablet PCs are expected to take up to 10 - 12 percent of future sales into the laptop market next year. A growing number of municipalities here in New Jersey are expected to shut down their public libraries or staff them with a skeleton crew and fewer resources for new books, music, and movies along with computers for the next few years until our national economy and job market bounce back to more normal levels. Ben Bernake said that could take another 4 - 5 years and what is hurting us the most are the numbers of unemployed people that have been out of work for more than six months or longer along with our national unemployment rate which is hovering at around 10.00 percent.
I have seen more people buying e-book readers especially during this holiday season. I do not want to put up with the hassle of renting books and returning them on time only to worry about another late fee imposed by my free public library. It is much more convenient to download and read books within seconds on my Amazon Kindle. I barely visit my local public libraries anymore now that I subscribe to Netflix and Hulu Plus along with Sirius XM Satellite Radio.
My hope is that my future textbooks at NJIT will be available on the Kindle system. Other NJIT students told me that they download BitTorrent files containing the exact same textbook in Adobe .PDF format for their courses and they avoid paying hundreds of dollars for their textbooks each semester. It is certainly tempting especially given the fact that I can have Amazon convert those files to the Kindle format for free and transmit it to me through their Whispernet network for free. I hate lugging around textbooks.