Friday, April 1, 2011

The Nook: the verdict

I liked it. A Nook of my very own is due to arrive any day now.

That's the short response. Here's the long one:

It's possible that, if I had gotten to try the Kindle or another reader the way I got to try the Nook, I might have decided I liked something else better. I like knowing what I'm getting into, though. Reading about the pros and cons of a product isn't the same. I like personally experiencing those pros and cons, so I can get a better feel for what I can live with and what I can't.

For instance, whether the software on the Nook I tried was up-to-date or not, I learned that, as annoying as I first found the page refresh rate to be, I got used to it. The start-up time turned out to be significantly more annoying. I also learned that I missed being able to quickly flip through a book - I'll have to remember to add bookmarks to my favorite parts of e-books, the best thing I can think of to simulate being able to flip to and reread my favorite parts in print books.

The cover on the Nook I was trying out opened up so that it was a little like holding a hardback book. I liked that cover so much that I looked for a similar one for my own Nook. The cover wasn't so stiff that I couldn't fold the front part back. Although my tendinitis has healed to the point that I feel like normal, my hand and wrist is wimpier than it used to be. I learned that, if I'm not careful about how I'm pressing the button to go to the next page, the tendons in my wrist hurt after a while. I discovered I could fold the front cover back and use the buttons on the left instead - good to know.

I put a variety of things on the Nook, just to see what they would look like. I downloaded a couple free e-books from the Barnes & Noble website. One was DEAD(ish) - although I wasn't a fan of the book, appearance-wise it looked great. I tried the Nook's Notes feature on it - I was really unimpressed with that. Typing the letters was so annoying that I resorted to text message-like shorthand. It's a good thing that I'm used to writing any notes about books into a notebook I keep on hand.

Another free book I downloaded was a Harlequin romance. I ended up never even looking at it, but I still learned something from it - I learned I really dislike DRM. "Buying" the book (for $0.00) and adding it to the Nook worked just the same as it did with DEAD(ish). I don't have wireless Internet, so I first downloaded any book I planned on adding to the Nook to my computer and then plugged the Nook into a USB port and added the books that way. Then, with DEAD(ish), all I did was find the book on the Nook and start reading - nice and easy. The Harlequin book was more annoying. When I found it and went to read it, I was prompted to input my credit card number.

I'm assuming that I would only be asked to do this the first time after I added the book to the Nook, but one time was one time too many. Even if I had been using my own Nook instead of borrowing one, I wouldn't have liked being prompted for my credit card number. I plan on making a special effort to avoid getting DRM-protected e-books.

There are tons of options for getting e-books. As far as free e-books go, I learned that Baen has a few available, and I downloaded a couple by some of my favorite authors. If I like the look of them, it's possible I might buy some of Baen's e-books in the future. I also downloaded several books from Project Gutenberg. Just like when I check books out of a library, whether I think I'll like a book or not does not have to be a primary factor in whether I choose to download it from Project Gutenberg. Three of the four books I tried didn't grab me, but the fourth (the first of Maurice Leblanc's Arsene Lupin books, which I will be posting about soon) was a lot of fun.

As I started to warm to the Nook, I began to wonder whether I should more seriously consider the Nook Color. The higher price tag bothered me, especially since I knew I would be adding the cost of a cover and the Barnes & Noble Protection Plan. I was able to take a look at the Nook Color at Walmart, but I really wish I could have tried it out for a more extended period of time. Because of my job, I spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen. On a bad day (massive, multi-hour record-editing projects, for instance), the eye-strain can give me a headache, and then when I get home I don't even bother to turn my computer. I worried that a Nook Color might only increase my chances for eye-strain-induced headaches. And, again, there was still the price to consider. The Nook Color would let me look at pictures, comics, and more, but I decided to wait until either the Nook Color or similar products dropped in price enough that I wouldn't mind it if I couldn't use it all the time, or some company put out an affordable color e-ink reader.

One of the Project Gutenberg EPUB files I downloaded had images, and they looked fine on the Nook. I had previously downloaded some PDFs to the Nook and was horrified at what happened to their formatting - the PDF with images in it was particularly mangled. The perfectly nice looking EPUB file got me to wondering, and my wondering led me to download and install two programs on my computer, calibre and JPEGtoPDF. From what I could tell, calibre can't take a JPEG image and turn it into an EPUB file (I could be wrong), so I turned a bunch of JPEGs into a PDF and then turned that into an EPUB file. It worked beautifully. I created an EPUB file of images of my niece - on the Nook they were grayscale, of course, but didn't look that bad. I also created an EPUB file of a fan comic I downloaded several years ago. This, I learned, works best when the comic has fairly large text - the screen size of the Nook is quite a bit smaller than, say, a page from a Tokyopop manga, so the text ends up being a lot smaller, too. At the moment at least, the Nook does not allow you to zoom in. This became especially painful when I turned a picture-riddled journal article PDF into an EPUB file - the text was so small it was impossible to make any of it out.

I'm not sure I would have ordered a Nook for myself if I hadn't gotten a good-sized check as a Christmas present, along with orders not to use that money on bills or groceries. I'm cheap, and I cringed at the cost when I hit the "order" button. However, I've bought several print books in the last year that cost 2-3 times more than what the e-book versions (these were from small publishers, NOT the Agency 5). With a Nook that book money will be able to go a little bit farther. Aside from that, I also like the idea of being able to download and read something from Project Gutenberg whenever I get the urge, and I was hugely excited when I figured out how to make my own EPUB files - I'm sure I'll think of lots of ways to use that skill. I'd like to experiment more with reading work-related articles on the Nook.

I don't expect or plan for my Nook to replace my print book reading, but I do expect it to expand my options.

1 comment:

  1. I also was in a search for jpg to pdf converters as I love sharing notes that I took from my camera on the web. But posting it on scribd and google isn't possible without first converting the file into a shareable format like pdf. Thanks to converters like the one you used, I now have no problems regarding that issue.

    Jevim from jpgtopdfconverter