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Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight: Which is best?

Michael Sawh


Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight

Which is the best backlit eReader?

The Nook GlowLight and the Kindle Paperwhite are the budget backlit ebook readers to beat. With a £20 difference between the two, do you get more for your money with the Paperwhite or is the GlowLight the sub-£100 ebook reader to take on holiday?

We compare the two to find out which one is best.

Related: Kindle Oasis review

Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight – Design

Kindle Paperwhite: 206g, Plastic with soft-touch back

Nook GlowLight: 175g, Plastic with soft-touch back and silicone trim

Dimensions-wise, there's very little to choose between the two. Both are roughly the same size as a small paperback book – though much thinner, of course – and are extremely light to hold in the hand. The Glowlight does opt for a more curvaceous look compared to the Paperwhite’s rectangular design, but both have a soft-touch back.

There's no physical page turning or expandable memory on either reader, so you're relying on the touchscreen to get around and internal storage to store all of your ebooks, magazines and newspapers.

The Kindlewhite with its all black tablet-inspired design is the better-looking of the two ebook readers. The GlowLight's all-white design with silicone trim is a little bit tacky and, as we mentioned in our GlowLight review, the rubber trim can come away from the body. It's an ebook reader that doesn't take long to get grubby when it's been in a bag for a couple of days as well.

Winner: Kindle Paperwhite

Nook and Kindle 12

Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight – Screen

Kindle Paperwhite: 6-inch 758 x 1024 Paperwhite Carta e-paper display, 212 PPI

Nook GlowLight: 6-inch 758 x 1024 E-Ink Pearl display, 212 PPI

The two displays are identical in the specs department, but there are some subtle differences that are more noticeable when you line up the two e-readers next to each other.

For the GlowLight, the move to a Paperwhite-equalling display is a big improvement on its predecessor, and the 'Ghosting' that the previously model suffered from has been eliminated. The new Carta E-ink screen on the Paperwhite, though, aims to improve contrast and to make text appear blacker than on the last-gen Paperwhite. When you compare it to the GlowLight, those blacks do look more impressive on the Amazon e-reader, as do the more accurate white backgrounds to create a better-balanced display.

It doesn't take long to notice the difference in touchscreen performance either. While the Paperwhite uses a more common capacitive display, the GlowLight uses infrared technology. The responsiveness and reaction to screen interactions is a little slower on the Nook GlowLight. It won't ruin the e-reading experience altogether, but it could definitely be better.

Winner: Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight: Storage and Connectivity

Kindle Paperwhite: Free cloud storage, 1GB for 1,000 books, 3G and Wi-Fi options

NOOK GlowLight: Free cloud storage, 2GB for 2,000 books, Wi-Fi option

Both the GlowLight and Paperwhite are not short of on-board storage. If you can get through 1,000-2,000 books before finding an opportunity to swap a few around, that’s some impressive reading. There's cloud storage to back up the internal space, so you can sync and back up books, magazines and newspaper. This also means you can resume reading via compatible Android, iOS and Windows apps.

The GlowLight is only available in a Wi-Fi model, although that might not be a problem for readers who prefer to stock up on books when they're at home or work. The 3G Kindle Paperwhite model does cost £60 more than the Wi-Fi-only Paperwhite, though the mobile data connectivity is free and works for downloading and using the experimental web browser.

Winner: Tie

Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight – Content, Stores and Pricing

Nook GlowLight: 2.5 million ebooks including newspapers and magazines

Kindle Paperwhite: 3 million ebooks including newspapers and magazines

For many, this is going to be the most important part of picking between the two. Which ebooks can you buy and which is cheaper? Both have extensive libraries of content for starters. You can purchase ebooks and get free samples, all of which can be downloaded directly from the store onto the ebook reader. Amazon has the larger of the two libraries, but both have the newest titles and classics well covered in their respective store fronts.

While newspapers and magazines don't seem as well suited to e-readers as they do on tablets, you can get a range of formatted versions as one-off purchases or on a monthly subscription. Newspapers are well represented on both, although the Barnes & Noble store appears to feature a more comprehensive range of magazines.

When you venture into the stores, Barnes & Noble creates a more enticing place to explore. The new Popular List and Sales sections make it easier to discover new content, and sections for books, newspapers and magazines are clearly highlighted. It's just a more straightforward place to purchase books than the Kindle Store.

If pricing is where it will really matters most, the Kindle Store in general is cheaper. Books in the Barnes & Noble store can be as much as £2 to £3 more. It's roughly the same for magazines and newspapers for monthly and daily purchases, but if you're looking for more affordable books, then the Paperwhite is the one.

Winner: Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight – Other Features to Consider

Kindle Paperwhite: Kindle Freetime, X-Ray, Experimental web browser, Kindle loan library, 8-week battery life

Nook GlowLight: ePub file format support, LendMe service, 8-week battery life

For the extra software frills the Paperwhite is well ahead of the GlowLight, but that's not to say the latter doesn't have the odd feature some might find more desirable. Such as the fact that it supports the popular ePub format, making it easier to transfer books from other readers and borrow books from libraries. There's a workaround for Kindles to work with the file format, but it's going to be more fiddly.

Something that you can do on both is have the option to loan and borrow books to other Nook and Kindle users. There are restrictions in place for how frequently you can do this, and not all books are available through the service. In the case of the Kindle, users that loan books can read them via the free Kindle smartphone and tablet apps, which is not the case on the Nook platform.

In addition to this, Amazon also offers its new Kindle Unlimited steaming-style service where you can pay a monthly fee to access around 600,000 books. It's currently only available in the US, and there's no news of when we can expect it in the UK. If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber as well, you also have access to the Kindle lending library, where you can borrow a book a month for free with no due date.

When you consider other extras such as web browsing, the family-friendly Kindle Freetime and X-ray features, the Kindle Paperwhite is the more feature-packed ebook reader.

Related: Kindle Voyage review

Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook GlowLight – Verdict

This is a comprehensive victory for the Kindle Paperwhite. In some respects, there’s very little between the two ebook readers. However, all those little things add up. Based on the more attractive design, the better screen, cheaper books and extra features, the Kindle is still way out on top and is worth spending that extra money for.

Paul Humphreys

January 2, 2015, 10:38 am

I disagree.

The nook is lighter and looks much nicer than the blocky looking kindle, but this is subjective so should not be part of the review decision other than as a comment.

Books are as cheap for the Nook because you can buy from many sources, even better you can borrow free library books which you cannot do with the Kindle. With the Kindle you are completely tied to Amazon.

Neither the Nook nor the Kindle are meant to be browsers and the Kindle is at best a poor browser and the other apps do not enhance the product in any way, they are distractions from the real purpose of being able to read books. Yes the Kindle is a tiny bit faster to turn pages, this does not help me read any more speedily and has minimal impact on the user experience.

The range of books is the same size both Barnes and Noble and Kindle now have 3 million books. You seem to have skipped over the fact that the Nook holds 2000 books compared to the Kindles 1400.

The library book multi source feature alone means this device is a massive win over the Kindle.

John Huntsman

March 19, 2015, 3:12 am

How can read on that? It's the size of a phone. Give me regular hardback-sized screen with good e-ink and I will give you money.


April 27, 2015, 9:12 pm

How do you read books? It's bigger than a mass market paperback book.


July 28, 2015, 3:53 am

You must have missed the section above, highlighted here:

Kindle Paperwhite: Free cloud storage, 1GB for 1,000 books, 3G and Wi-Fi options

NOOK GlowLight: Free cloud storage, 2GB for 2,000 books, Wi-Fi option

Paul Humphreys

July 28, 2015, 10:45 am

No I saw that. More importantly the article says "This is a comprehensive victory for the Kindle Paperwhite." and my argument is that I don't really think this is a balanced opinion.
I have had my Nook for 7 months now have read 40 or 50 books mostly from the library or free downloads. It looks fine, doesn't get particularly dirty or look grubby and has worked faultlessly even though has crossed several time zones on planes and boats and the X-ray machines have killed 2 Kindles on the same journeys. I like it so much I gave away my Kindle, personally I also think it looks nicer.
IMHO the Nook is "comprehensively" better as a reader - which of course is a subjective opinion so it's probably inappropriate to use the word "Comprehensive".
If you buy loads of books get a Kindle, if you borrow loads of library books get a Nook, if you want a reader you can use as a tablet ..... get a tablet and use it as reader, it will serve you much better.


July 28, 2015, 2:53 pm

Unfortunately, Paul, they rarely are balanced. I tried hard to find a good article online re. these two devices. I think only Consumer Reports is unbiased, and you have to have a subscription. Fortunately, and this may be the only way to go (if you're so lucky), I have friends who are allowing me to borrow their Kindle and Nook for a few weeks to see what they're really all about. But, yeah, I agree with you. So, right now, still taking time to decide. I never thought this would be so difficult!

Paul Humphreys

July 30, 2015, 3:23 pm

That is definitely the best way, My daughter had a Nook and my partner had a Kindle so I was fortunate enough to be able to trial both. The Nook refreshes the screen slightly more slowly than the Kindle but in real life reading this is not noticeable at all so is almost irrelevant as is the comment about size. They are both relatively huge, I store around 10 books at any one time and archive the rest both more than easily cope with this. Who wants a Monochrome browser! I suspect no one.


September 28, 2015, 10:22 pm

Consumer Reports is unbiased? That's news.

I have two Nooks with Glow and not. They are very comfortable to grip and hold and I don't have the huge white logo like the Kindle has (had now?)

Al Adams

March 11, 2016, 2:48 pm

Also You May Ask, Where Did Amazon, Kindle Get that (Topaz) AZW & AZW3 eBook Format ? Remember that Old Palm Pilot PDA, Guess What ?? That Was the OLD Text "Book" Format On the Old Palm Pilot PDA !!! What Goes Around Comes Around ... I May Have Mistakenly Typed AWZ in Other Places Referring to the Kindle eBook Format ... Sorry - Not a Great Keyboard Typist !

Al Adams

March 11, 2016, 3:06 pm

I Use Both the Nook Simple Touch, for Daytime - Outdoor eReading, and More than One Android Tablet for Nighttime (in the Darkened Room) Lights Off (Samsung Tab A, ASUS TF101, Kindle Fire 7inch 5th Generation), They All Have Their Uses, the Nook Simple Touch I Have a MicroSD Card (32GB) for Extra eBook Backup So My Library Travels with that. The Format issues are Real, One Thing about the Kindle AZW & AZW3 eBook Formats They Can Take up to Three Times the Memory {For the Same eBook Title} of the ePub Standard That Nook Uses, That Makes the Nook a Better Choice for the Most Efficient eBook(s) Storage, If I Have a DRM-Free eBook, a eBook Not Locked by DRM. I Convert it to an ePub Format Whenever Possible, This Makes that AZW eBook Useable on Both KIndle & Nook Devices, Try http://drmfree.calibre-ebook.c... Like I Say, I use the NON-Backlit Nook Simple-Touch for Outdoor/Daytime eReading, and the Tablet(s) DarkScreen & White or Red Font Color on the Tablet for in the Dark Bedroom eReading ...Yes the Nook Simple-Touch Still Has That Ghosting Issue, but in the Bright Sun-light, it's not any worse then the Wind Blowing the Cheap Paperback Pages of a small paper backed book ...

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