Differences Between The Kindle Fire And Nook Tablet For International Travelers

by Anil Polat · 13 comments

nook tabletIt’s been a while since we looked at the differences between the Kindle and Nook for international travelers. That of course was the Nook Wi-Fi and Kindle 2; mostly straightforward eReaders mostly without color or touch interfaces. Now however, the jump between those class of eReaders and the new generation of 7-inch tablets – in the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet – has grown considerably, while the differences between the two for international travelers have shrunk.

Most of your choice now lies between whatever online store you’ve already committed yourself to, what type of computing device you want, and about $50.

Access To The Online Store

Nook Tablet: There have been some changes made to Barnes & Noble’s (B&N) handling of the international restrictions it faces (being a US-only company). While previously purchases were limited to those buying from computers or devices physically in the United States or Canada; the restriction has now been lifted for those with US or Canadian credit cards. (With only a few exceptions.)

nook bookstoreThat makes it easier to purchase books and apps for the Nook Tablet when you’re traveling outside of the US, both from your device or laptop.

  • Those of your without US or Canadian credit cards can use the free download HotSpot Shield to make your computer appear to be in the US, even when it’s not.

Kindle Fire: The Amazon store has various international versions – and if there’s one in the country you’re visiting or live in, then you’ve got access to their Kindle store (with minor exceptions). Your prices may vary for ebooks and all ebooks aren’t available across stores (that depends on a complex mix of publisher rights).

  • Streaming: Currently Amazon Kindle’s streaming features are limited to the US. The Fire’s streaming feature gives you access to movies and music from the Amazon store directly to your device – one of the main advantages of the device over the Nook Tablet.

kindle firePurchasing The Device Around The World

Nook Tablet: Unfortunately at the moment B&N only ships the Nook Tablet within the United States. Plans are underway to allow international shipping but for now, you’ll need to be in the US or have a friend ship it to you. (There may also be devices being resold on other sites like eBay.)

  • It’s worth noting that US military addresses around the world are eligible for shipping internationally.

Kindle Fire: Similar to the Amazon store, international versions typically mean you can ship the Kindle Fire to a number of countries.

Library Checkout

library booksAmazon Fire: This rather innovative feature which lets you check out ebooks from public access libraries is currently only available in the US. Rumor is that Amazon is working to expand this functionality around the globe; and based on how fast they’ve moved in the past, don’t think it’s out of the question within the next 12-18 months. For now though, you’ll have to wait.

Nook Tablet: B&N uses Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) for library book use but it’s loosely restricted to use within the US. (There are some exceptions so it’s worth trying or at least checking the website of the library you’re looking to borrow from.)

  • In both cases, using a proxy like Hotspot Shield mentioned above, will get you around these restrictions for nearly all libraries. My guess is this will be a big area of growth for both online stores in the next year as more libraries (and bookstores) go further online.

So, What’s In That Extra $50?

Well, practical reasons aside like having to work with proxies, the Nook Tablet currently sells for $249, while the Amazon Fire is $199.

A few remaining key differences between the two for international travelers remains in the question of what you want in a device. The Kindle is cheaper and more of a straightforward reading device for ebooks, despite the color design. For the added $50 in the Nook Tablet, you get a more powerful, all-around computing device – something closer to a simple iPad rather than the fancy eReader the Fire is. The Nook Tablet also reads the free EPUB standard format the Fire has yet to adopt.

This said, if you’ve already got a large collection of books in either Amazon or B&N’s store, you’re better off sticking to where your personal library is unless you’re really looking to change between devices. (Since you can’t transfer Amazon or B&N ebooks between the Nook and Kindle or visa-versa.) Internationally, with the right proxies, you’re not likely to be stuck outside of any online store – but actually shipping and ordering the physical devices on the other hand – might take a bit more work for the time being.


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Donna Hull December 3, 2011 at 09:24

Excellent advice for making the right choice between the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. I’ll be sharing this with my boomer friends who travel internationally (or not).


2 Anil P. December 3, 2011 at 13:32

Thanks Donna!


3 Vinny December 3, 2011 at 15:19

It’s also worth noting that (for the geek traveler) that both devices can be rooted and side load other apps, including other markets.


4 Anil P. December 4, 2011 at 09:38

An excellent point – and one of the very fun aspects about both devices 🙂


5 Pauline February 2, 2012 at 22:09

A major problem I had with Nook Color was that there wasn’t a way to customize proxy settings. This meant that I wasn’t able to go online at my school to access online textbooks. Would I have the same problem if I exchanged my Nook Color with a Nook Tablet?


6 Anil P. February 3, 2012 at 17:51

The only way to do it on either device is to root them unfortunately. Otherwise the best option is to run a proxy on your laptop and then transfer the content via USB to your reader.


7 Jack Martin February 16, 2012 at 00:27

I chose to save the $50 and get a Kindle Fire. I don’t see the $50 difference. And how many of those other features do you really use?


8 Anil P. February 20, 2012 at 18:06

It depends on the user I suppose.


9 Regina June 5, 2012 at 21:18

Hi Anil,
I have found your blog to be extremely helpful in my quest to purchase an e reader. I am getting married in January and will be moving to Germany for 2.5 years. After that I’m not sure where my husband and I will be, possibly back in the US. After reading a number of your pages I was hoping you could confirm what I think to be true. (I’m debating between kindle and nook)

1. I really don’t need to worry about getting any fancy 3g(Kindle) since it might not work abroad. I’m better off purchasing from my computer and loading onto my reader. So a regular kindle touch or nook with simple wifi will be just fine.

2. If I buy a kindle I will need to use a proxy to order books while in Germany from the US Amazon book store. If I buy a nook I can buy books online regardless of my location because I have a US credit card with a US billing address. (Can I access the B&N website from abroad without using a proxy?)

I am leaning more towards the kindle only because I am a long time Amazon customer. I do not have e books from either store so I can start with either reader and not lose old purchases. What is your opinion of Kindle fire vs Kindle touch?

Thank you so much!


10 Anil P. June 6, 2012 at 10:39

Hi Regina,

I’m happy to hear you’ve found this post and others helpful 🙂 You’re correct on #1 and #2 as well. As for the differences between the Kindle Touch and Fire; I’d say they’re separate types of device. The Touch is a great straight e-reader; as for the Fire, I think it’s still a hardware update from being a great device. I’d go with the Nook Tablet if you’re looking for a device that will do more than just handle ebooks. Otherwise the Touch will meet your needs.

Hope this helps and let me know if you have any other questions!


11 Regina June 6, 2012 at 22:59

Thank you for your quick response Anil.

My only other question is will I be able to access the B&N website will abroad without needing a proxy?

Thank you,


12 Anil P. June 7, 2012 at 02:52

You’re welcome and yes, the B&N site is open to you in most countries around the world 🙂


13 Regina June 7, 2012 at 07:38

Well that settles that! Nook it is!


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