Thank you everyone for the advice and shared experiences with your own ereaders. It was so helpful to look at what everyone had to say and consider my options based on what I needed.
I ended up choosing the Nook Color because it is a good ereader, comfortable to hold in one hand, touch-based and flexible in various viewing options, though I did have to give up on having a reader with ebook “ink” such as Kindle uses. It also is based on a thriving operating system for small device technology: Android. Barnes and Noble says that they are releasing firmware early next year which will provide access to the Android app store. Sounds good to me. Last, the NC comes with an app that reads Microsoft Office files, which I occasionally need to do, and its built-in WiFi web browser talks happily to Google, which is how I’ll work with my contacts and appointments. All in all, a fairly good fit based on my needs.
After using it for a day, and successfully loading the book files I already had via Calibre, I still like it. This is good.
Later this week I’ll have my house elf help pick a random winner of the two books I offered to spur the advice. I know that everyone who offered advice did so out of passion for their ereader and not only because of the chance at free books, but still, free books…good old-fashioned print books. Which is still my preferred way to read, at least.