Nook—a second look at the eBook app

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Nook is an app and a device!

Since big A decided to fire me as one of their “Associates” I have set aside my K—  library for the moment, and am re-reading some older titles via the Nook app on my iPad. For readers who aren’t familiar with this, it is basically the eBook platform used by Barnes and Noble. While I have not purchased many books via B & N, I was once a very loyal customer at Fictionwise. When B & N bought out Fictionwise in 2009, I was able to keep some, alas not all, of the content I had purchased, by adding the Nook app, so those books became part of my Nook library. And, as there are quite a few titles there, I am looking through the library, seeing if anything is worth a second read. One of the best aspects of eBooks is that the “keeper shelf” takes up no room in my house!

The Nook app works like other eBook apps; the raw file format is ePub. In their review of eBook apps, CNET judged it as #3, and it is quite good. I find the animation associated with page changes very pleasing; it looks just like flipping a physical page! I also like having basic info at the top of the screen (date, time, % of battery are all available) as well as the typical (in print format) of two facing pages, with the title on one side and the author name on the other. Apart from a page number, which is not possible as the file must adapt to the reader’s screen size, the interface is very book-like, and I mean that as a compliment. As an app, it is a bit quirky, however. For instance, getting back to the library can be a bit of a chore, as one must first get a more info screen, and then the option to move around a bit becomes available.

There is a library screen, a bookstore screen, a quick link back to the current book being read, and something called “Readouts” which is a bit of sales pitch mixed with freebies and information. The library screen shows “Recent Reads” and “Recent Purchases” as defaults, and there are tabs with “All titles” and “Shelves” which are, of course, organizing tools. Unfortunately for me, the only way I can find some of the oldies is via the “search” feature, but it works quite well. For instance, I didn’t finish my last name before both of my titles popped right up!

I use my iPad (mostly) for reading, so I’m using the free app, but Barnes and Noble is currently offering a 7 inch screen Nook for about $50, and a big screen (10 inch) for $130. When eBooks were new to the market, most were priced substantially lower than their print counterparts, and sometimes that is still true. Lots of classics are free, of course, but lower priced options can be, well, garbage. Overall, the prices at B & N are a bit higher than their ginormous internet competitor, but the store’s interface is elegant. Also, the content is a bit more “curated” than the content over at Big A, where just about anyone can sell anything, regardless of quality.

Since I’ve been reading via the Nook app, I have begun researching the possibility of pulling Trinity on Tylos out of the K— exclusive program and publishing it via ePub to other bookstores. Perhaps Barnes and Noble readers would buy a few digital copies. Stay tuned….

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eReader update

Some years back, I purchased a Palm device as an eBook reader. Oh, I might not have chosen it if the only thing it could do was display books, but it does more than act as a reading device. For half a decade, I have read scores of eBooks and used the Palm for my calendar, quick notes, and as a portable phone/address book. At the time, I thought spending a hundred and fifty bucks was a bit much for it, but in the long run, I have enjoyed cheaper books, being able to read at night, and less junk in my purse. Nowadays, it will die after just a couple of hours of reading, and battery life has always been a problem. In the past few months, the cover has worn out, the charger won’t work so I have to use the USB port to recharge it, and when I pull it out, folks look at it the way folks in the eighties would look at an eight-track tape deck. Like other fans of eBooks, I am looking for a replacement reading device.

 

Being an Apple aficionado, I view the iPhone as a good candidate. Like the Palm, an iPhone would serve multiple purposes. But, that small screen won’t be much better than what I have now, and newer should be markedly better, don’t you think?  No doubt, well-heeled eBook readers who like Apple products will probably opt for the iPad, and that is the most appealing alternative. But, it won’t fit in my purse, and while it is a real computer, it won’t really replace my Macbook, so I can’t see spending the bucks for one of those.

 

Amazon has been perfecting, and dropping the price of the Kindle. The second generation device isn’t as butt-ugly as the first one, but I am not ready to buy one just yet. Amazon’s content is probably better than most, which is a better selling point than the reader itself. If I were a student again, having to read large textbooks, the oversized version would catch my attention, but black and white magazine content is so retro.

 

I considered the eBookman, marketed by Fictionwise, five years ago, and there are a few of those still around. But its successor is the Nook, a WiFi capable dedicated eBook reader sold by Barnes and Noble. The price of this device is currently $149. Since Fictionwise, my favorite eBook vendor, is now a BN.com subsidiary, moving my pre-purchased content should be easier if I decide on the Nook. Barnes and Noble has my sophomore novel, Trinity on Tylos, on sale for under three bucks. That’s a deal, folks! If other small press books are priced similarly, that would put new books into used book price range. Quite frankly, when just purchasing the content, and not the paper and cover, I think that a new eBook really should be less expensive than a new print copy, so plenty of low priced content is absolutely necessary. And, of the eBook readers available now, apart from Apple’s elegant designs, the Nook has the best form factor, too.