After writing a magazine article about e-book readers last year, I decided they weren’t ripe yet. But last weekend I was in Barnes & Noble checking out The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham, even though I had no right; there isn’t an inch of bookshelf left in the house. It retails for $35, so I thought, “If I buy the e-book cheap, I could put the difference toward an e-book reader.”
So I forked over $149 for a Nook Wi-Fi (without 3G) and another $40 for a case.
Do I sound crazy yet?
“But a Nook?” you ask. “Why not Amazon Kindle?”
Two reasons: 1) Amazon’s trying to corner the market by publishing its e-books in a proprietary format and doesn’t accept EPUB format, which I believe will become the universal standard, and 2) Amazon tried to strong-arm publishers into price caps on e-books, which screws writers earning royalties.
My love affair with the Nook has yet to blossom. It has a touchscreen keyboard that appears when you need to type searches or other text. I have slim fingers, but it took me 45 minutes to type 2 passwords to register the Nook with BN.com and to connect it to my home Wi-Fi network.
The Nook was lucky it didn’t end up in a million pieces after severe impact with the wall.
Dracula, Little Women, and Pride and Prejudice came with it as free downloads. Dandy.
The B&N sales clerk told me about half of B&N’s million+ e-ooks are public domain and free. None of the classics I wanted were less than 99 cents.
So there’s Project Gutenberg, where I downloaded 9 classics in EPUB format for free, no strings attached.
You can transfer books to the Nook via USB. B&N punishes your rogue e-books by segregating them in “My Documents” instead of adding them to “My B&N Library.”
The reading screen isn’t as bright as I expected. Virtually all e-book readers use E Ink® technology, which is supposed to be great, even in full sunlight. I feel like I need full sunlight to get anything close to the contrast of ink on paper.
And the battery, whose charge I was told would last 10 days, is down 82% on day 5 without even reading the first book. Maybe that’s because they didn’t tell me to disable Wi-Fi while it “sleeps.” B&N says there’s no need to shut Nook down completely. I now realize that’s because it takes forever to boot up.
And that Maugham book? B&N sells the eBook for $26 (it’s $19.25 at Amazon). Some day I may get over this, but for that kind of cash, I want a real book on my bookshelf, even if I have to cram it in.
There’s more, but I won’t bore you with details unless you ask.
At this point, I wish I’d left well enough alone. But knowing what I know now, in that moment of temporary insanity, would I still have bought a Nook over a Kindle?