Reviewing an E-reader- The Nook

Friday night Jim led me into the living room where he had a candle and chocolate on top of a wrapped present waiting for me. My birthday was over two weeks ago and I thought he'd forgotten to get me something... turns out he was just putting the finishing touches on saving his pennies for this:

I was super excited, although I'm not exactly an early adapter, and I don't just love technology for technology sake. Nobody was surprised (least of all Jim) when I fussed and muttered for a few hours, while I figured out how to work the darn thing. I cursed its existence and praised the worthiness of real books, until I discovered how to check out books from my library, and then I disappeared into a black hole. Three days and five books later I've reemerged, ready to give a report and opinion.

1) An e-reader is quite possibly a dangerous tool. Sort of like a permanent mainline for a heroin addict.

2) Real books feel better, smell better and are somehow comforting and magical parts of my home. However, when I read (and I'm sure most readers are like this) I don't see letters and sounds. There are no pages with words on them. Instead I'm in Middle Earth, feeling the dirt between my toes as I dance in the Shire. Or I'm climbing up the stairs at Hogwarts and hoping I make it to Potions on time. I'm transported inside the story and the book itself could be made out of dragon skin or etched on gold and I'm sure I wouldn't notice. Because of this, the electronic-ness becomes a non issue for me. It quickly just becomes a portal to some other place.

3) I specifically did not want the Ipad because it has a back lit LCD screen. Hard on your eyes and difficult (if not impossible) to read in the bright sunshine. The Nook (and Kindle) however, come with something called "e-ink" which is formulated to look just like a printed page. Easy to read, and since I'm pretty sure I live in one of the brightest climates in the country, it is an absolute necessity for me.

4) I don't like the page turns. The whole screen goes kind of black and crinkly and then a half second later your new page appears. At the beginning, I was constantly waiting on it, but then my brain subconsciously started telling my finger to hit the button when I still had a few lines left. This way I get to the bottom of the page just as the new one loads, so it's not really an issue anymore, but it's still different.

5) You can pop the thing in a ziploc and go sit in the pool with your kids as they splash half the water on you, your book and your entire backyard.

6) It works on an interface much like Itunes. You plug it into your computer via usb and Adobe Reader pops up with your virtual bookshelf. When you check out books from your library, they appear here. When you download books off of bit torrent *cough*, they appear here. You can put music and audio books on your e-reader too, and it's all quite simple to navigate (once you figure you how and where to install the correct programs *double cough*).

7) It only has two gigs of memory. However, you can buy a micro sd card for it if you wish.

8) You know when you read a book, you're constantly looking for a comfortable position? You end up being comfy on your side which is great, except you can only read one side of the page easily, so when you reach the end of that page, you have to either switch sides or hold the book up awkwardly until you finish the awkward side of the page and are onto the easy side again. Yes? or is that just me? My favorite feature on the nook is that it has page forward and page back buttons on both sides. So you can be hanging upside down from a trapeze with one hand tied behind your back and it would still be easy to turn pages. Or if you're me, you can be ensconced on the couch with blankets, pillows and a pile of tissue and you don't have to move. I know it's a small thing, but it is seriously cool.

9) One last peeve and then I'm done. There's no sense of how far you've got left in the book. I didn't realize how I subconsciously compared the tension in the book to how far I had left to go. A quick glance and you think "holy Barnabas, I've got another 200 pages of this?" or "whew, we're almost there, all my questions will be answered in the next 50 pages". You don't get that sense of time or space on an e-reader. The little slider and page number at the bottom doesn't count.

So there you go. I could probably think of some more things I like or dislike about the Nook, but all in all, I'm very fond of my new e-reader and while it won't be replacing my paper copies on the shelves, it will allow me to decide what I want to buy. Some books are terrible, other books are a fun read, and some books you just have to have on your bookshelf. My e-reader is the gatekeeper.

1 sprinkles of fairy dust:

Now that I've seen your Nook and you told me first hand about it, I can't figure out what I want! Go figure.