Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making NOOKie

I fully entered the age of digital literature yesterday when I bought a Nook e-book reader. It was an impulsive buy, but I had been thinking about it for a while—although not specifically about a Nook. Lorrin has a Kindle and on a drive home from Tacoma yesterday, my sister and I discussed getting a Kindle because the price had just come down. It was just happenstance that I walked into my local Barnes & Noble and saw the Nook salesperson in her booth right inside the front door.

I had to stop and see what Nook was all about because the last I noticed it was in the Fall when it still hadn't been released. I was very impressed with its features. I've done some online research about comparisons between Nook and Kindle and I can't see a huge difference.

Nook uses Google's Android OS and the software can be easily updated online. Kindle's OS is hard-coded and the only way to upgrade is to buy a new Kindle. Nook has expandable memory, Kindle does not. Nook can be serviced at any Barnes & Noble store, Kindles need to be mailed to Amazon to get serviced (I've done it already with Lorrin's Kindle after she learned that Kindles don't bounce).

The clincher was that if I bought a Kindle, I would have to order it online and wait for it to arrive. I could walk home RIGHT NOW with the Nook. Sold. I tried to enlist my sister in getting a Nook for herself, so she'll go to B&N to look as soon as she can—if she doesn't order a Kindle first.

I spent the early evening yesterday browsing for free or cheap e-books. There are a lot of older books that have been digitized at some point and are now free downloads. For example, J.B. Bury's History of the Later Roman Empire is a free download. I've also got free copies of Caesar's commentaries, Thucydides' history of the Peloponnesian War, Dickens' Great Expectations, etc.

The Nook is a great way to carry a lot of reading material on the go. I can't think of how many times I've been desperate for something to read and couldn't get it. Now I can read books that I have stored on the Nook, download new books, or download current magazines and newspapers. With 3G wireless, I can download from pretty much anywhere.

It's a strange transition for me to go digital because I have always been a lover of books. The physical make-up of a book, the binding, the paper, the font, the design and illustrations, have all made a deep impact. I can see most printed books going digital. Even now almost every published book has a e-book option for about 1/3 the price. I will keep most of my printed books, but I do see a cull coming. Some of my books are collectible, others are just more suitable as printed books. For example, I see no value in an e-book version of Conway's All the Worlds Fighting Ships or any book that uses a great many illustrations, charts, drawings, photos, etc. Digital ink has its limits.

One interesting aspect of the e-book revolution is that it's easier now for any schlub to be a published author. The overhead for publishing an e-book is minimal and anyone can write something and sell it through an online store.

Oh, also, it's easier to read from the Nook with cats lying all over me.

1 comment:

  1. David,

    I also joined the digital revolution in a similar but different way a few years ago. I love books and have thousands. About 2 years ago I bought a netbook (8.9" eeepc) and take it everywhere. I have dozens of ebooks on it - and lots and lots of PDF rules I have bought over the last few years. I rotate the screen 90 degrees and read them in full screen mode. Currently working thorugh back copies of Wargames Illustrated I got electronically a while ago. I use it a lot on the train, and have also watched movies on the train that I just don't have time for at home. Also great to catch up on emails and blog updates (at home, two small kids and not much time to myself so the train ride - only 12 mins each way, is catchup time).

    Paperbooks I read only at home now - I still have a large unread pile.