I got my first Kindle. This is a nice ebook reader. I'm going to jump right in and tell you what I found to be its Pros and Cons. Then I'm going to tell how it compares to its biggest competitor, the Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch.
Great Screen: Many people do not find LCDs hard to read on (e.g. smartphones, tablets, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, etc.), but virtually everyone will find E-Ink easier to read, any time of day. Especially the newest E-Ink Pearl displays. They simply look like paper and ink. I have never experienced any eye strain reading E-Ink book readers, but I have with LCD based phone/tablet screens.
Thin and Lightweight: This Kindle is thinner than any paperback and lighter too. This makes it very easy to hold in a sitting position, and for long periods too. It also makes it easy to transport in a purse, backpack, or messenger bag (or in luggage for traveling). Many people like to take a few books when travelling, and this Kindle lets you take as many as you want and adds virtually nothing to your travel burden.
Good Value: Even without a touchscreen, the Kindle is a good value. It is a well-made product, it offers cloud storage of your books (and well it should, since it offers no ability to expand storage capacity with an add-in microSD card), the screen is excellent, Amazon is a dogged competitor in book pricing. The Kindle 4 is the best value of Amazon's E-Ink readers. Some may be tempted to get the version with the built-in light. If you can afford it, sure, go ahead. But let me point out you don't have to spend $20 for a fancy-schmancy book light. Your local dollar store has them for ... wait for it ... a buck. They work perfectly well to light the screen, don't suck down your Kindle's battery, and best of all, don't add $50 to the price of the Kindle.
Amazon Customer Support: I've dealt with Amazon for years, and they have always done the right thing in terms of customer service when I have had issues with products or deliveries.
Kindle Lending Library for Prime Members: Prime members get their own library. That's a great benefit to them. I'm an "adjunct" Prime member, though, so I don't get to benefit from it, but it's great for primary Prime members.
Library Support: I was happy to see Amazon join the program for Overdrive and public library ebook lending. This is such a huge benefit to everyone who has ebook readers. Especially people on fixed incomes, who like ebook readers for the ability to change font sizes, and love them for the ability to borrow library books.
MicroUSB Port for USB Charging: Good call for Amazon to support the universal USB standard for charging. You can charge from a computer USB port, an AC adapter, car charger, etc. Don't worry about buying one: if you have a smartphone (other than apple) or Bluetooth device that came with a microUSB cable charger, it will do the job.
Parental Controls: Another good choice for Amazon to implement parental controls, where they can restrict access to the Kindle's web browser, store, and archived items.
Long Battery Life: I couldn't even put a dent in the battery gauge using the Kindle for several days, for several hours a day.
Excellent Highlighting and Notes Features: I really liked the highlighting and notation capabilities, and that I can access the highlights both in book and from the home screen. You can also choose to show highlights and notes by other users (general population), or by a selection of Amazon users you follow.
No Touchscreen: Yes, I know they offer a touchscreen model. But they charge a bunch more for it. Their main competitor offers touchscreen in their most basic model, for only a few dollars more (don't let the $99 list price fool you ... the Simple Touch is usually available for 10 bux more than the Kindle).
No Expandable Storage: Personally, I like to add free books from Project Gutenberg to my ebook reader. I can add thousands, with graphics, if I can add a microSD card for storage. However, Amazon chooses not to include that feature.
Not Easy to Hold Laying Down: For those of you who like to read in bed (that's where I do all my book reading), the Kindle 4 is not very easy to hold and be able to turn pages. The front bezel is slippery plastic and thin, so it's hard to grip one-handed. But if you manage to, it's nigh impossible to hit the page turn buttons. Most of the time, I found I had to let the bottom edge rest on my belly, hold it upright with one hand, and reach down with the other hand to turn pages. Sometimes I think products are designed and tested by people who just sit in their cubicles and never try the products in real-life situations. The ads show people sitting on the beach reading. Sure, pretty easy to hold the thing in that position. But try laying down! That's how real people read!
Button Design: Have they always been like this? I found the buttons prone to inadvertent presses whenever I held the Kindle. I prefer to hold it one-handed, and it seems that the button size and location makes it hard to grip the thing without accidentally hitting a page forward or back button.
Proprietary Format: Amazon's use of its proprietary format for ebooks means you have only one source of contemporary books: Amazon. Now, Amazon is a fine company, but personally, I find choice - being able to shop for the best deal - to be a benefit.
Kindle vs. Nook:
I have used Nook ebook readers for a couple of years, so I am very experienced with B&N's products and services.
Here are the winners and losers in various areas:
* E-Ink screens are equal quality
* Battery Life: really long for both
* Page Turns: both used to be pretty slow, both are now acceptably fast
* Book Prices: whenever I've checked, Amazon has better prices sometimes, Barnes & Noble has better prices other times, and they're very close a lot of times
* Use your own screensaver and wallpaper
* In store reading for free
* Expandable Storage
* Comes with charger (EDIT: 1/14/13: some commenters report that B&N now charges for the charger; be sure to check before you buy!)
* More universal book file format (epub) vs. proprietary Kindle format
* Fonts: more fonts, more sizes, more margin selections, more leading (line spacing) selections
* Easier to navigate: the user interface is just more logical and it's easier to find what you're looking for
* Better ergonomics: Nook is easier to hold, sitting OR laying down. The buttons don't get in the way of fingers. The touchscreen give alternative options to page turning (touch edge or swipe). The Nook Simple Touch and the Glowlight version have a large dimpled back that make it easier to hold.
* Highlighting and Notes: much easier to use and access with Kindle
* Kindle Lending Library: this may be Amazon's answer to B&N's in store free reading
* Device is Lighter and Smaller: easier to transport, though the smaller size and lighter weight do not make it easier to handle
* Support: Amazon's product support is legend, in my book. B&N released a software update for Nook Simple Touch once that broke Wi-Fi, they refused to acknowledge the problem for many weeks, and took over 2 months to fix it. Inexcusable.
For me, Nook Simple Touch is the superior ebook reader. Comparatively, Amazon has few advantages in design or use. Nook is easier to hold and has better ergonomics and navigation, has expandable memory, has more display adjustments, uses a more universal ebook format, lets you read books for free in their store, and has a touchscreen. Kindle has the Lending Library for Prime Members as an advantage, it's a little lighter and smaller, has better product support, and a better highlighting/notation function. Now, with that said ... the Kindle is an excellent ebook reader too. When I choose Nook as superior, it does not negate that Kindle is a great product. And if you have a compelling reason to go with Amazon's product, then by all means do so. You will love it and enjoy it, almost surely.