To me, there’s just something about a new book. The stiff binding and crisp pages always feel wonderful in my hands so I wasn’t ever sure that I’d be interested in an electronic reading device until I got to try Barnes & Noble’s nook ($259).
My experience with nook has ranged from complete and utter elation upon the arrival of the device to wanting to throw it out the window at times. The initial set up of the device was so easy that the first night it was in my possession I was able to set up an account, purchase a book, and read it on the nook. I didn’t love that it froze on me, rendering it useless when trying to read Little Miss Techie a bedtime story or that installing the eReader software to get my purchased books on other devices proved to be tricky but now that I have solved these problems and have bonded with my nook, all is right with the world and I am truly enjoying it.
To give you a true sense of what it nook is like, here’s the nitty gritty….
When the nook arrived, it was encased in a thick plastic case. The design and packaging looked sleek and akin to what I would expect to come from the Apple Store. However, I didn’t want to open the case for fear of breaking the entire thing so I gave Tech Savvy Daddy the task of cracking it open while nervously watching over him and 1) warning him not to break the gorgeous museum-like case and 2) hoping he wouldn’t drop the nook. He didn’t and I plugged it in and immediately went to the Barnes & Noble site to set up my new device.
Setting up a nook account was a simple 2 step process that included 1) creating an account or signing in for those with B&N accounts and 2) entering in a credit card number for payment before I could 3) shop for books. Really. It was that easy!
The minimalist design of nook puts the focus on reading and makes it incredibly simple to use. It has a 6” display where the text of the book and illustrations appear and a color touch screen below that is used for navigation purposes. The easy-to-use touch screen functions similarly to the iPhone since no pressure is needed to make a selection. The touch screen appears by touching the “n” below the text display and allows users to use the following buttons to access content such as:
- The Daily– Free content such as previews and updates
- My Library– All digital content from eBooks you have purchased to PDFs
- Shop- Browse millions of eBooks that are also available from BarnesandNoble.com
- Reading Now– Allows quick access to the last page you read in the book you are currently reading. I like to think of this like my virtual bookmark
- Settings– Enables personalization through customized wallpaper, screensavers, and font type and size
Page turns are made easy thanks to the arrows on either side of the display. There is a higher set and a lower set which to make page turns easy regardless of how you hold your nook in your hands.
Nook has an internal 2GB memory that can store 1500 books. It also has a space for microSD cards ($12.95-79.95) to expand one’s eBook library. The MicroSD card slot is under the back cover and next to the battery.
It has 3G wireless that connects instantly wherever you have a wireless connection. This is especially useful for browsing and purchasing new content on the go. Since your credit card information is stored as part of your Barnes & Noble account, you can browse eBooks and make a purchase to instantly access a new title. For those who travel overseas, note that 3G wireless is only available in the US. Wifi anywhere else will allow you to connect to the internet but you aren’t actually able to purchase new content if you are outside the United States.
Nook’s battery life depends on the light conditions since the screen automatically adjusts its contrast according to the light you are in and if the 3G wireless is on or off. In testing, nook’s battery lasted for 2 full days but when the wifi was turned off, the battery had power for 10 days.
With over a million titles and more to come, I found plenty of eBooks that were on my must-read list. Suddenly I was wishing that my brand new copy of Flawless was an eBook and was dreaming of reading the entire Twilight saga for $33.20. If you find yourself clamoring for new releases, Barnes & Noble works with publishers to make new titles available for preorder in eBook form. When the books are announced by the publisher, you can browse, find, and preorder the eBook to auto download the day it becomes available rather than having to run out to the bookstore to get new releases.
Children’s titles such as Little Miss Techie’s favorite Magic Tree House series are available in eBooks format elementary ages and up. I love that we can read Leprechaun in Late Winter ($8.47), the latest adventure of Jack and Annie, for less than the retail price of the hardback whereas older MTH are $3.99, the same as a paperback version. Since we’re into Beverly Cleary’s Ralph books about the lovable little motorcycle riding mouse, I immediately downloaded the second book in the series- Ralph S. Mouse ($3.99)- for our bedtime reading.
Unfortunately there are only 4 titles listed in the 3-5 year age range so if you are hoping to load up you nook with read alouds to occupy your little one for a long plane ride, you might be better off packing your favorites rather than relying on downloads.
I do wish that the children’s titles were more easily searchable. Barnes & Noble does a fine job of sorting them by genre and has them separated by age groups if you scroll to the bottom of the left hand navigation column but the site seemed clunky compared to other online bookstores.
You can also purchase eMagazines and eNewspapers to read on nook. There’s a good selection of eNewspapers available with all the major dailies represented along with The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and International Herald Tribune but they don’t come cheap. For example, current issues of The Washington Post sell for the newsstand price of $0.75 while an eSubscription is $11.99/month. As a Post subscriber, that seems high and I can’t see giving up my newspaper quite yet. I do like that if I were considering a subscription that I could have a 14 day trial of any eNewspaper for free.
The selection of eMagazines is far more limited with 11 titles available at the time I published this post. The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, PC Magazine, Foreign Affairs, Reason, National Review, The Nation, Guideposts, The Scientist, The Christian Science Monitor Magazine, and The Wilson Quarterly are currently available as subscriptions and current issues. I wish there was an eAlert I could set up when nook has an eSubscription of InStyle, Bon Appetit, or Organic Gardening available. Then I might be interested in reading my glossy mags on my nook. 14 day free trials are also available for magazines.
Nook features “Lend Me,” a way to share your favorite eBooks with friends and family. Eligible eBooks (ones with the LendMe logo below the cover art of the book) can be loaned once for up to 14 days by going to your library and entering in the person’s e-mail address for them to read on their PC or nook. If you lend a book via LendMe, you will not be able to read the title as long as the person is “borrowing” your book. The title will be available again at the end of 14 days or if the person finishes reading it sooner and “returns” it to you. LendMe is not yet available for iPhone, Macs, or Blackberry yet.
Installing eReader Software on Other Devices
One of the beauties of nook is that the eReader software can be downloaded and installed so purchased titles can be read on other devices including Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPod Touches, and the Blackberry. The idea that my books are accessible from any one of my devices at any given time is highly appealing.
Despite the ease of setting up nook, I encountered difficulties trying to get my purchased book to come up on my Mac and iPhone despite having entered in my username and password to access my account on alternate devices.
With my Mac, I followed the step-by-step directions and installed the software correctly. I opened Applications then open Barnes & Noble eReader. From there, I went to the File menu and clicked Open where I should have seen a menu called eBooks. eBooks didn’t not appear in my menu nor was there another way to access it since all the choices were grayed out.
What I found out from the nook software team later was that I needed to manually download an eBook to my desktop from the B&N website. Upon doing this, I continued to encounter problems due to eBooks not appearing in my menu choices as I complained about above. I discovered that eBooks doesn’t automatically come up as a folder after the eBook software was loaded on my Mac. I created a folder and dragged my downloaded eBooks from My Library into the folder. Then I accessed them by dragging and dropping them on to the icon on my desktop like the instructions stated. It wasn’t hard to do this but it might save some user frustration by including this in the instructions.
iPhone users might be tempted to install the app by clicking on the “Get the eReader for FREE” button on the Barnes & Noble website (pictured above) but be sure to go to the actual iTunes app store to obtain the free eReader download. Whatever app I happened to download wouldn’t actually work on my iPhone (although I swear that I downloaded it from the app store since I have my receipt to prove it) and I had a frustrating couple days logging in with my username and password only to see that my purchased books came up in my Account but there was no way for me to actually read my downloaded eBooks.
I looked at the guide for using the software on the iPhone and the things I tried just didn’t work. I didn’t find my purchased book under the topic lists and even went to my purchase history to see if it could be accessed from there. No luck. Finally reinstalling the eReader directly from the iTunes app store did the trick and now I can read my eBooks on the go without nook in my possession.
As a bonus, iPhone and iPod Touch nook users who install eReader and sign into their B&N account get 6 free eBooks that include Dracula, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Merriam Webster’s Pocket Dictionary, Last of the Mohicans, and Sense and Sensibility. It is certainly a nice bonus to have access to such classics for free but these titles are only available for free on the iPhone/iPod Touch and not on all other devices where you can download eReader as I had originally thought. Blackberry users will get 4 of the 6 titles (Dracula, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, and Merriam Webster’s Pocket Dictionary). Mac and PC users don’t get the added bonus of the free titles when installing eReader on their machines.
nook In-Store Experience
If you are a book lover like me and think that purchasing a nook might end your trips to the bookstore, it may actually increase them thanks to the bonus content that instantly downloads when you step into any retail location. This is pure marketing brilliance because it is hard to say no to a free Alice in Wonderland eBook ($4.99 for the B&N edition) and coupons to build your home library collection at a substantial discount. I also like having access to in-store experts who can assist with problems and answer questions.
If you are looking to customized your nook, you can do so with a variety of accessories that range from colorful device backs ($18.95) and silicone frames ($19.95), screen protectors ($14.95), and a variety of covers, including gorgeous designer ones from Kate Spade, Jack Spade, Tahari, and Jonathan Adler ($29.95 and up). Other accessories like clip-on lights, rechargeable batteries, and microSD cards are also available for purchase through BarnesandNoble.com.
I do wish the covers were more affordably priced since purchasing a nook is quite an investment. While I love the designer covers, the least expensive one is the Jonathan Adler Punctuation for $29.95. Jack Spade covers are $65-85 while Kate Spade ones are $125, about half the price of the actual nook device, making them quite an investment. The Tahari case (pictured left) is my favorite but it isn’t available yet and I shudder to think of the price.
Considering that I could purchase a designer cover or add to my eBook library, I decided to purchase the very basic Industrell Front Cover that gives me a book-like feel every time I open the cover. It may not be the sexiest cover on the market but it helps my nook keep a slim profile and does a nice job protecting it for the budget price of $24.95.
You can also customize screensavers by using your own images or downloading additional ones from the Barnes & Noble website. Currently Alice and Wonderland images (see above right) are available to download. Nook supports image formats like JPGs, gif, bitmap, and tiff file formats if you’d like to use your own images as screensavers.
The Future of nook
While I love the experience of reading eBooks on the nook, there are some problems that I’d love for future software upgrades to address including:
- Making eReader software available for more smartphones and android phones like the T-Mobile MyTouch, Moto Blur, Palm Pre and Pixi. Barnes & Noble assures me this is coming but sooner is always better than later.
- The delay in loading pages. I don’t love that the screen goes black and flickers before the next page appears. I can turn a page faster than nook does.
- The device freezing. I don’t know about you but I don’t carry a little screwdriver with me and am not about to start just in case I need to pop out the battery when nook freezes. I’m pretty sure that the TSA would confiscate my screwdriver rendering my nook useless on any flight. Besides being really inconvenient, this just shouldn’t happen and apparently I’m not the only one who has experienced as evidenced by the number of Tweets I got back about quick fixes from my Tweeps. (Thanks everyone!)
- Larger pictures in chapter books. Little Miss Techie loves reading on the nook but her biggest and only complaint is that the pictures are way too small. Illustrations in Ralph S. Mouse tend to be about 2 inches square at best and never seem to fill the empty space on the screen well. I’d like the illustrations to be larger to mirror what is seen in chapter books even if it means dedicating a whole page to a picture. Pictures in traditional chapter books are much larger and if nook is all about the reading experience, providing good size illustrations for younger audiences is key to keeping them engaged in the story and developing a positive attitude towards books.
The traditionalist in me who loves books will always love the feel of a good book in my hands but the convenience of nook can’t be beat. While I don’t see nook being a suitable replacement for books for the youngest ages because it can never replicate lift-the-flap, pop ups, or those that engage the sense of touch or even the beautiful illustrations found in picture books, I do like having many titles at my disposal at any given time whether on my nook, iPhone, laptop, or desktop computer. Nook is an investment but the eBook titles are less expensive than the retail price of their hard copy counterparts and have the ability to be lent and shared without you ever losing them or being charged late fees a la your local library.
Win a nook!
Spring break is upon us! When packing for a vacation have you ever filled your suitcase with so many books that you hardly had room for your shoes?!? Consider that a thing of the past – here’s your opportunity to win your very own nook. Leave a comment below telling me about worst packing woes and how the nook could help read more, carry less. Be sure to leave your e-mail address or Twitter handle in your comment to make it a valid entry!
For extra entries, first leave a comment addressing the above and then do any of the following and then come back to enter your extra entries on this Google Form.
- Tweet this daily: @TechSavvyMama is giving away a Barnes&Noble nook! Enter to win here: http://bit.ly/9NQ4U4 Then come back and leave a link to your Tweet on this Google Form.
- Share this giveaway with friends through your Facebook page and leave a link to your Facebook page on this Google Form.
- Blog about this giveaway and include “Tech Savvy Mama is giving away a Barnes & Noble nook” and link to this post: http://bit.ly/9NQ4U4 Include a permalink to your post on the Google Form.
- Add the Tech Savvy Mama button to your site and leave the link in the Google Doc. Use the HTML that can be found on the right side of this site and comment via the Google Form.
- Follow me by subscribing via a Feed and tell me which feed reader you use (BlogLines, Google Reader, etc.) on the Google Form.
- For one last entry, take my Reader Survey. All responses are completely confidential and the responses on the form count as your extra entry.
Fine print: All comments must contain an e-mail address or Twitter handle to be valid. Extra entries must be submitted through the Google Form. All entries must be received by Friday, April 9 by 11:59 pm. Winner will be selected and notified via e-mail. Winner must respond within 24 hours or another winner will be selected from valid entries. Product will be shipped directly by Barnes & Noble to the winner to an address within the United States. Leticia (aka Tech Savvy Mama) is not responsible for any lost, damaged, or missing items.
Images courtesy of Barnes & Noble. No compensation was received for this post however I did receive a nook for review purposes. All downloaded eBooks and accessories were personally purchased.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama