Nook: First Impressions


After months of deliberating, going to Barnes & Noble’s Web site every few days and gazing wistfully at the prominent display at the front of my local store, I finally broke down and bought a Nook.

For those of you who don’t read or who have otherwise been disconnected from the amazing world of gadgetry, the Nook is B&N’s eReader, one of the earliest responses to the Amazon Kindle and also the first to offer ebooks in the ePub format, allowing compatibility with any digital reading device or online library (including Google Books, Apple devices, and Sony eReaders, as well as any smartphone equipped with a digital reading app). Kindle eBooks, meanwhile, use a proprietary format that only allows readers to access them using a Kindle or the Kindle mobile application.

The Nook comes in three different varieties: the original Nook, with its black and white e-ink display and a limited touch screen at the bottom used to navigate the library and other features, comes with Wi-Fi capability and, for a slightly higher price, 3G access through AT&T. Then there’s the NookColor, a full touchscreen tablet that is part eReader, part funsize iPad, and all distraction. I looked at both styles, and ultimately went with the original-minus-3G. (I already pay for 3G service on my phone, and the handy USB cable means that I’m able to download new ebooks about 99% of the time.)

In terms of customer service, there isn’t much I can say — Adam, the Nook authority at my local store, used to be a coworker so we already had a rapport. He was very knowledgeable about both devices and gave a thorough but easy-to-understand demonstration of each before I made my decision. Because we worked together (and he sees me at his store at least once every week and a half on average), he already had an idea of what I was looking for and was able to tailor the discussion in a way that cleared my major doubts:

–Replacing the 200 or so print books I have already (not necessary, just redundant);

–cost-efficiency (ebooks are typically half the price of their full-print counterparts, and often even further discounted – Nikki also helped on that count, suggesting Google’s collection of free classics.)

Adam didn’t stop with the technology; he also showed me the variety of protective cases available (a must to take it anywhere), offered me B&N’s extended two-year protection plan (which covers everything but theft, so stay away from me), and explained the number of other additional accessories available. I kept it simple and went with a leather book-cover case and added the protection, but even without anything else I walked away from the register feeling confident with my selection and eager to play with the Nook at home.

This. Is. Awesome. The initial charge took about three hours, and I spent ten minutes connecting the Nook to my B&N account as well as my Adobe Digital Editions program. The directions included with the Nook were clear and easy to follow, and I didn’t have any problems getting started. The screen is as crisp and clear as advertised, and even in my well-lit office there’s no glare. (The one downside: the screen isn’t backlit in any way, so I’ll need a light to read in a dark room.) Navigation between pages, accomplished with arrow buttons on either side of the Nook, is simple as long as I can remember that I don’t have full touch-screen capability. (I’ll get it eventually…)

The Nook came preloaded with two B&N Classics; this  morning, I downloaded three free Google eBooks and purchased my first NookBook from B&N’s Web site. Transferring the files to my Nook was as simple as connecting the USB cable and dragging the files from one folder to the other. The best part is, B&N keeps track of my library in my account settings on their Web site, so if I ever have to delete a book and want to re-download it, it’s right there waiting for me. I can’t wait to download straight to the Nook, or to try B&N’s LendMe feature with my Nook-owning friends!

If you’re an avid reader and you like having multiple books at your fingertips at any time without having to carry around a suitcase, I highly recommend the Nook. It’s light, easy to operate, and already loads of fun.

For more information on the Nook and other digital readers:

Mashable’s articles on eReaders

Mashable’s coverage of the Nook

Wired: Tablets & eBook Readers



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