Saturday, July 31, 2010
Have you heard of the Nook? It's quite fantastic. It's like the Kindle but better, because instead of a bunch of ugly little buttons it has a nice sleek touch-screen panel beneath the reading screen.
As of a few months ago, I had no desire whatsoever to even contemplate buying any sort of e-reader. I own a gazillion books and I love them. Ebooks are like electronic keyboards. I have a nice digital keyboard instead of a real piano, and while it is convenient, and while it has the keys in the right place and has pretty good key action, it doesn't feel the same as a real piano, and I can't play it if the power is out. Similarly, I didn't want to be dependent upon an electronic device to be able to read a book. Plus, I don't like reading stuff on a screen.
One day, one of the teachers at the Salt Lake Center came in with his Kindle, and I asked him about it. He let me look at it, and I was amazed at the reading screen, which didn't look like a screen at all. I mean, it did, but there was no annoying backlight or colors or anything; it looked like the page of a book.
I could read on that, I thought. And thus the desire began.
I've owned my Nook for about a month, and I do very much like it. I have a lot of different thoughts about it, actually:
-I love that the Nook is so slim that I can carry it in my purse. I basically take it with me wherever I go.
-You know how most people love their iPods and carry around their music all the time? I have an iPod, and lots of music on it, but I hardly ever use it unless I'm cleaning my room or washing the dishes or something like that. Maybe after so many years of sitting in front of the trombone section I just value my silence more highly, but my Nook is to me what an iPod is to an iPod junkie. I loved carrying a book around with me before, and this way I can carry LOTS of books around with me.
-I can technically just use my Nook at church instead of my scriptures and the Gospel Principles manual and all that. I don't, because it's easier for me to flip through the scriptures manually, and I like to see the notes I've written in the margins. There's a way to make notes on the Nook, but it's kind of laborious, and my fingers are fatter than is convenient for the touch screen. But when I travel, I fully intend on using only my Nook. It takes up way less space and weight.
-Harry Potter is not available as an ebook. Do not ask me why, because I do not know. This, for me, is a very sad fact. I'm hoping they'll become available at some point.
-The scriptures and church stuff is also not available in ebook format. The scriptures, Ensign, Gospel Principles manual, and other such documents are available in PDF format, which the Nook can read (with effort), or there is a non-LDS company which offers the Triple Combination and the King James Version of the Bible, too, but there is currently no church-approved ebook version of the books.
-It's odd to download books and not physically have the book. I don't like being dependent on the device. I can't go browse for ebooks at DI. I can't buy them used for cheap off Amazon. Nook is a step ahead in that you can loan some ebooks to other Nook owners, but still, you have to have a Nook... It's just different, you know?
-I love going to the gym with my Nook. I don't need anything to hold the pages back, and it sits there perfectly on the treadmill as I walk. I can swipe my finger across the touchscreen to turn the page, or I can push the button. Easy!
-I can change the font size and style, though not the line spacing. The Nook saves my place in all the books I read, and I can also add bookmarks and highlights and notes.
-Perhaps my absolute favorite thing is the built in dictionary, which allows me to look up words right then as I am reading. I am the type of person who likes to look up new words, or even look up old words, but if there's not a dictionary nearby while I read, I tend to forget the word. Thus I love love love looking up words whenever it tickles my fancy. I had no idea I'd enjoy that so much.
-Browsing is, surprisingly, not as difficult as I would have imagined. In fact, it's pretty easy. You just slide your finger over the little marker, and it turns the pages to follow where you are, much like normal browsing. Nook is put out by Barnes and Noble, who also allow you to preview any ebook for free for up to one hour while you are in the store with your Nook. This makes sense to me, since it's pretty much like browsing physical books: you can't browse those from your home, either.
-There are, unfortunately, not a whole lot of ebooks available. Ok, ok, I know there are millions, but if you go to the children's ebook section of the B&N website, there are only 2194 books available, and a lot of those are duplicates, a lot of them are recent series, some of them are not actually children's books at all, and a lot of them are just junk. I want Harry Potter. I want The Bartimaeus Trilogy. I want more Newbery Medal books. Today's current books aren't necessarily available for download at the same time the physical books go on sale, either. I've read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, and I have pre-ordered Mockingjay; I really would have loved to just download it, but it's not listed as available yet. Alas.
-The Nook is great for novels and such, but I wouldn't want to read a picture book on it. It could be useful for textbooks too, if it had a color screen. I saw an e-reader that had two screens and folded like a book, and one of those screens was color while the other was not. I think that model has potential for the developing market, though I can't recall who made it or what it was called.
-The ebook market is still so new that the formats are not all the same between companies. With a physical book, it is all paper. Paper is paper is paper. Yes, there's different quality of paper and ink, but you can read it. Kindle and Nook and Sony use different file formats, which I think is dumb.
-The Nook is an electronic device, and I am sometimes one of those people who likes having the coolest electronic device. Already I am looking at the newest Kindle and kind of drooling over the features (8.5 ounces! a month battery life! PDF notes! and they finally added wi-fi and beta web!). This does not bode well. I love my Nook. Can I just use it for ten years or so before getting annoyed at how clunky it is? Sheesh.
-While B&N boasts that there are millions of free ebooks, most of them are Google books that have been scanned using OCR text recognition, which does a pretty pathetic job of converting the type into text. That was one thing I learned early on: if you want a decent copy of a book, you need to pay for the formatting and editing. To me, it's worth it.
-Last of all, I can play Sudoku and chess on my Nook. I do enjoy a chess game now and then, though I'm not so great at it, but I like Sudoku much better, and it's easier to do it using a machine than doing it by hand (I'd only ever played Sudoku in the newspaper before). Now if only the Nook had the NY Times crossword puzzle...
Bottom line: E-readers are coming, and that is a good thing. Books will always exist, just as CDs and sheet music exist along with Mp3s and iPods. Nook is catching up to Kindle, Kindle is catching up to Nook, other companies are joining the market, and it's going to be one big party before long.
Posted by Betty Edit at 6:30 PM