Three readers, one week: today and tomorrow I’ll be featuring reviews of the new Sony Touch, the Kindle 3, and the Nook – the latter by guest reviewer Shannon Stacey. I personally didn’t like the Nook. It was bottom heavy. It’s interface was clunky, poorly responsive, and the LCD at the bottom was hugely annoying.I got the fail flower all the time. I didn’t think it was comfortable. I liked the Kindle better.
But that’s my opinion and I know many, many people who adore their Nooks (HOLY GOATS WHO CAME UP WITH THAT NAME?!) (I promise that’s the last time I’ll mention it) (Ha. I liked. NOOK?! REALLY?! It goes so well with
I mean PubIt). So I wanted to allow those who really enjoy their Nooks (*cringe*) to have a chance to speak up about what they like.
I have long maintained that there is no one perfect reader, and much like cell phone advertisements, this isn’t the goddam Highlander where There Can Only Be One. There doesn’t have to be One Digital Reader To Rule Them All And Bind Them To Higher Prices For Books. Different digital readers work for different people, and I know that Shannon Stacey has an interesting story about buying the BN Nook. Thank you, Shannon!
The Barnes & Noble nook was an impulse buy for me. It was a frigid February day, my husband was away snowmobiling and I had money burning a hole in my pocket. Since nothing short of a “free doughnut with every iTunes gift card” sale was going to get me out into the cold, I did a little online shopping.
I had two tabs open on my browser—-one for the nook and one for the Kindle—-and I must have flipped back and forth between those two tabs for an hour. I even made a list of the last ten books I’d bought and compared the prices (pre-agency), but they were close enough to be a non-issue. The nook had the ability to tolerate the dreaded Adobe Digital Editions which, for me, meant books bought directly from eHarlequin and library books, but it was a new product for them and there were rumors of bugs. A lot of bugs. Like a hotel room in New York City kind of bugs. The Kindle had history, stability and ease of use going for it, but no ePub-ability.
In the end, I ordered the nook. Why? Because it was prettier and had rounded edges. Shallow much? Sure. But a Sony 505 had already tried and failed to lure me away from reading on my iPod Touch, and it failed because of its cold, hard metal edges.
I loved the nook…for a while. It felt wonderful in the hand. A little on the heavy side, but the rounded edges and the slightly rubberized backing were a pleasure to hold. The screen is beautiful, the text crisp and I got used to the refresh faster than I anticipated.
On the surface we looked like a perfectly happy couple, but resentment was festering. Perhaps I didn’t pay enough attention to the fine print but one of the important features for me—-syncing between devices, which meant reading on both the nook and the iPod Touch—-was actually “coming soon”. It hasn’t come yet. And there actually two folders on the device, one for Barnes & Noble purchases and one for “sideloaded” books, and none of the gimmicky features like the cover flow and the “coming soon” syncing apply to the sideloaded documents. Since about 95% of the books I read on the nook were sideloaded, those cool features were lost to me.
After a while I found myself “accidentally” buying books for my iPod Touch and returning to it again and again until, eventually, I stopped pretending I was using the nook. It wasn’t really the nook’s fault. I carry a very small purse and no purse at all during winter coat with pockets season, so I never had the nook with me on the go. I had my Touch, though. And I read in bad lighting a lot more often than I read in direct sunlight, which meant I needed a light for the nook, which meant I needed a cover. In the end it was too heavy and bulky for me.
In June, I loaded a book my husband wanted to read onto the nook and handed it to him. My plan was to get him to use it so I could stop feeling guilt about the $270 I flushed down the digital drain. He’s never been much of a reader and he’s even less of a “techie” type person—-let’s just say I still type out and send email for him—-but he was willing to give it a shot.
In the four months since I first handed him the nook, my husband has read more books than he’s read in the last…five years? He keeps bringing it to me and telling me it’s out of books. (With the two different book folders and the airplane mode and less than ideal book-browsing conditions via the device, I’m still the “manager”. I grab books on the Mac and send them over.)
I know from watching him with it what a part of the appeal is. He’s a master electrician and he’s got big, callused working man’s hands so he’s not comfortable with fragile electronics. But the nook’s pretty solid and, wrapped in the Executive cover from M-Edge folded back on itself (which I found too bulky), it feels right in his hands. He’s not afraid to grip it.
But what about the device turned my husband from an occasional reader—-the new Reacher or Davenport books mostly—-into a reader so voracious I’m, for the first time, on the short end of the “shut up, I’m trying to read” stick? I don’t know and he’s not a man of many words. I’ve been poking at him, trying to get him to articulate what he likes about it and he said:
“How the hell should I know? It’s like sex—-it’s either good or it’s bad and men don’t really care why. Now leave me the hell alone. I’m reading.”
But under duress (as in, I swore if he didn’t help me, I wouldn’t put any more books on the nook), he came up with a few things. He thinks it’s light. Besides the fact he has big, tough hands and I have girly hands, I think the disparity in our perception of its weight could also be due to the fact that, pre-digital, I read mostly mass market paperbacks (and a lot of those were shorter category romances) while he reads mostly hardcover thrillers. Even with the case and light, he says the nook’s lighter than a hardcover.
He likes the adjustable font. The one he uses is just a slightly larger than a standard print book’s, but it makes a difference. He also likes the fact there’s neither a bookmark to lose nor pages to crease when he falls asleep reading in his chair. When he goes to sleep, so does the nook. He also says the light (the M-Edge e-Luminator2) doesn’t glare on the e-ink screen like it does off paper or need to be fiddled with when reading two side-by-side pages in a print book..
So to recap, the nook wasn’t a big hit for me, but it wasn’t really the nook’s fault. I thought the grass would be greener on the e-ink side of the fence, but I couldn’t give up my iPod Touch habit. For my husband, however, the nook was nothing short of revolutionary.
I’m not the most tech-savvy woman on the planet—-hell, probably not even on my block—-but I’d be happy to answer any questions about the nook. Except why they didn’t capitalize the name of their product. That I don’t know.
Do you have a Nook? Do you like it? What caused you to choose that reading device over the others? Nook fans, and Nook-curious (I can’t take this name any more, I swear), here’s your opportunity: let’s talk Nook.