Saturday, February 20, 2010

My New Nook e-Reader

For Christmas 2009, I got a Barnes & Noble "Nook" e-reader. I love almost everything about it:

  • Being able to enlarge the type as big as I want.
  • Getting lots of books for free.
  • Getting lots of books for under $10 -- quite a few for $5 or less.
  • Carrying a whole library around in the size of a single volume.
  • Reading off a screen that ISN'T backlit -- a wonderful break from my computer screen.
  • Turning pages easily (never having two pages stick together).
  • Buying books instantly, avoiding the drive into town to shop at the store and never again having to wait for an online order to arrive.
  • Being able to side-load my own stuff onto the Nook's memory card.

About the only thing I don't like is the balky touchscreen. When I first got my Nook, I could hardly work the touchscreen at all. Over time, however, I'm managing it better. I don't know whether the screen has gotten broken in, so to speak, or whether I'm just perfecting my technique for navigating it. I was probably poking it too forcefully at first. It seems to respond better to a lighter touch.

I've read that the iPod touchscreen has trained its users to expect an instantaneous response. The Nook's touchscreen doesn't respond instantly. But I'm not bothered by the slight lag, since I don't own an iPod.

Anyway, it's seldom necessary to use the Nook's touchscreen. While reading a book, the only controls I use are the page-forward and page-back buttons. The touchscreen only comes into play, for me, when it's time to load up a new book.

Ease of Reading on the Nook

My Nook came with a cover, which opens book-like and contributes to the sense that one is simply reading a book. My husband, the first time he settled down to read an e-book, found himself reaching for a bookmark to slip in before he closed the Nook's cover. In very short order, he had completely acclimated. As I have. I find virtually no difference between reading on paper and reading on the Nook, except that reading on the Nook is physically easier.

For example, I enjoy the classics, but oftentimes I end up with a cheap paperback that has the type running almost into the gutter. To read the thing requires breaking the book's spine, bending the two halves of it backward, forcing it open at the gutter so that I can get at the words which are half hidden between two facing pages.

None of that is necessary with the Nook. Classics have all the white space around their pages that books should have.

It's Not Perfect

Books in the public domain don't get the careful e-presentation that current bestsellers enjoy. If, in scanning, some letters get replaced by random punctuation marks, or the scanner misses whole sentences, there's nobody cleaning up the mistakes. The uncorrected scanning is what you get in the e-book.

But hey! It's free. So I'll just mentally fill in the blanks as required.

I hear predictions that Apple's new tablet computer will render e-readers obsolete. But I don't think so. The tablet computer, after all, is a computer. It has a backlit screen. The Nook's electronic-ink screen, in contrast, looks just like a book page.

I'm quite happy with my Nook and have no plans to buy a tablet computer. Where the heck is the keyboard on a tablet computer, anyhow? A writer's gotta have a keyboard!

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