Monday, July 12, 2010

The B & N nook, a New Owner's Perspective in Three Parts [Part 1, First Impressions and Recommendations]

I once was a trekkie, then was friends with a wookie, and now I'm a nookie. That's right--I've bought a Barnes & Noble nook ebook reader.

This evaluation will consist of three parts:
  1. First Impressions and Recommendations
  2. Capabilities and Ease of Use
  3. Dollars and Sense
First Impressions

I was fascinated with the iPad (and still am) but wasn't willing to pay the asking price for the unit and also the additional monthly 3G fee. I didn't get a chance to check out the Sony reader (and, out of fairness, I should have) but was sales-talked into buying the nook. Watch the nook introductory video on the tab bar below the photo of the nook on the Barnes and Noble site.

As of this writing, I've owned the nook for four days.

I have been interested in ebook readers for quite some time but have found the proprietary approach of the developers to be unappealing. There are many ebooks available from many vendors--and many ebooks available for free. I wanted a reader that would load any ebook from any source. I wanted freedom of choice.

What are my first impressions of the nook?

I like it--and like it more every day, but I also almost returned the reader to Best Buy several times--in four days of ownership! In a nookshell, here's why I freaked and then unfreaked.
  • At $199, the nook is only $10 more than the Kindle and essentially less than half the price of the iPad. (+)
  • There is no monthly fee for the nook's wireless capabilities. (+)
  • The nook allows one to load ebooks from many sources and even convert documents such as PDFs for addition to the reader. (+)
  • Barnes & Noble has excellent video tutorials to lead you through the set-up steps. (+)
Then why did I freak?
  • There is a learning curve to gain familiarity with the reader, but it is manageable. (Do you remember the change from buying gas with check or cash to using your credit card at the pump? It's twenty degrees below zero, the wind is blowing snow, and I'm thinking, "Say what . . . ?) (+/-)
  • The Best Buy salesperson told me I could load non-Barnes & Noble material onto the reader. That is true, but it is not simple to get started. It requires downloading free software called "Calibre" and using that software to convert non-B & N e-material to a usable format. Even the nook techie I talked to through the support program said it wasn't easy. There were two days when I thought I couldn't easily achieve my goal of independence with this e-reader. (-)
  1. Read and follow the excellent instructions for setting up and registering your nook. This will establish your ability to buy ebooks through B & N. (For my first purchase I bought for $10 the complete works of Jane Austen, Doyle's complete Sherlock Holmes, and the ebook about nooks that is listed below. These all loaded easily onto my reader.)
  2. Your first purchase from Barnes & Noble should be the ebook Using Nook, by Jim Cheshire. It was the purchase of this book that allowed me to achieve my goal of acquisition independence. Without Cheshire's book, I would have returned the nook. (Suggestion for B & N: give Cheshire a nice bundle of money and lower the price of Using Nook from $4.99 to $.99.
  3. Now that you know the nook can load ebooks other than those of Barnes and Noble, take a little longer than me on that hill of a learning curve so that you will enjoy the climb.
I was lucky. Because I use video editing as a school teacher, I was familiar with using converter software. The process of conversion was not new territory. I was also lucky to buy Cheshire's book with its excellent instructions for acquiring and using the Calibre software. Finally, I was fortunate that the Calibre software was user friendly. 

Now I can carry around 1,500 books in a reader that, with a  nifty purple leather protective case, is no larger than a 6 X 9 book. Cool!

Be sure to leave a comment or ask a question. I'm interested in the experiences that others have had.

Copyright 2010 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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