For a quick comparison of the three devices, you might find the B&N comparison chart interesting though it is a bit biased in their favor. Despite dropping down a bit closer to the practical and affordable range, many people may not want a separate device for reading books but may still want to be able to read eBooks on their laptops, desktops, and other devices they already have.
Fortunately, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer free-to-download applications that allow you to read their ebooks on your iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac, and Blackberry with more devices on their way supposedly.
If you’d like to see how Apple’s iBooks on the iPad might compare, see my review of the iPad on 404 Tech Support.
I tried out the Amazon Kindle software on the iPad while I had one at my disposal and grabbed a few screenshots. Here’s the sign-in screen:
The Library page that will show the different books you have downloaded:
A page from the book:
I’ll let you form your own opinion but to me the Kindle’s page doesn’t look too enticing. It looks like what you would see reading a standard PDF document making dry reading even more dry. The image below shows a screenshot of the PC version of the Kindle software and it doesn’t look much different than it does on the iPad.
You can also send the pages into Full-screen to remove the menu bar at the top and other distractions.
Personally, I tend to like the Barnes & Noble Desktop eReader more than the Kindle application for the PC but it’s mostly just personal preference. Speaking of preferences, the BN Reader has a place where you can go to change Reader Preferences but it is a blank screen. Not a whole lot of customization is available at this point but I like the wider, two-page format better.
The BN Reader also allows you go full-screen and remove the distraction. With the arrow keys working to advance the page, this can make for pretty easy reading without constantly thinking that you’re reading on a computer.
One distinct feature that the BN Reader has and the Kindle doesn’t is the ability to easily import your own books. Files with the extension .pdb, .epub, .pdf can be imported by using the option under My Library and My Stuff.
Just because you haven’t purchased an eBook Reader device yet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the conveniences digital books offer. Even if you have a device, being able to read your library of books on a computer or laptop gives you even greater flexibility. Your preference for which device or which application you like better is also helpful to know before you build up your library because the formats aren’t compatible with each other and you should take this into consideration before you make your purchases. In the meantime, the desktop readers are free and include a number of free ebooks currently available.