Friday, February 4, 2011

Lookie Lookie I Got a Nookie

Since I bought my Nook I've gotten a LOT of questions regarding ereaders and my choice of a Nook over a Kindle or other ereader brands. Now that I've had my Nook for over a month, I thought I'd write an in depth review of my personal experience and other things I learned while researching. If you have any other questions, just ask!

1) Why Nook?

To be honest, I went back and forth on this for a while. I'm a huge Amazon fan. Not only am I a prime member, but it's always the first place I look for something online. Really, it is. They have almost anything under the sun. Because of this, when I first started looking into buying an ereader, I was pretty certain I wanted a Kindle. I know a lot of people who have Kindles and are completely satisfied, too.

Enter my public library.

I'm an avid library patron, and I'm a huge user of my local library's electronic services. By that, I mean that I use the library's online catalog from home, pick out the book(s) I want, and place it on hold. When that book becomes available, I get an email to come pick it up. Sometimes I do go "old school" and browse the shelves of the library itself, but for the most part, I just drop by, walk over to the "holds" shelf, grab my book (they're linked to your library card number, so random people can't check out the book you put on hold), and check out using the automated check out machines. Anyway, back to my story.

Since I'm frequently on my library's website, I knew that my library had an e-library (overdrive). Once I was certain that I wanted an ereader, I went to the site and started building my wish list so that once I had a reader in my possession I could check books out right away. After I had built a substantial list of books, I perused the FAQ section and Getting Started guides...and that's where I found out.

Kindle does not support the Adobe ePub books offered at my library.

Uhhh...seriously? Further research confirmed that Kindle is not compatible with ePub books and elibraries/overdrive across the country. Ouch.

Ok, well I had heard that Kindle offers tons of free books, so as long as there's a good selection of those, then I wont need the library, right? Yea...not so much again. I browsed through Amazon's list of free Kindle books, searched the books on my elibrary wishlist, and searched through pages on Ink Mesh; but I only came away with a few free books that I actually wanted to read. :-( I still thought the Kindle was a great device, but I decided to check out my other options just in case.

Out of the other readers available on the market, the Nook stood out to me as a viable option. It was compatible with my library, had a pretty interesting (to me) selection of free books on Ink Mesh, and offered/highlited a new free book every Friday. However, it was a bit heavier than the Kindle, and I heard from a few places that it could be annoyingly slower than the Kindle. Other places said that the latest software upgrade greatly reduced the page turn lag that people complained about. The only thing I could do was try them both out for myself.

A trip to Best Buy revealed/confirmed the following:
- The Kindle's analog interface is very intuitive to use and quick to respond. It really is very thin and light.
- The Nook's touch screen interface was not intuitive, but once you figure it out, it's very easy to use. Navigating the menus was very slightly slower than the Kindle.
- Page turning between the two readers was pretty close to identical. I held both readers and pressed the page turn buttons simultaneously, and both responded at relatively the same time. Sometimes the Kindle flashed slightly sooner, sometimes the Nook did.

Very long story made slightly shorter, I chose the Nook in the end because of the free book selection and the ability to utilize my library. I don't spend very much money on books (I use the library and swap), so I didn't want to suddenly have to start shelling out money in order to keep reading at my current pace. The free reading was a huge sell for me. The most common complaints about the Nook (weight and speed) didn't matter to me as much as the free books. I already knew the page turn rates were pretty much the same; and while heavier than the Kindle, the Nook is still lighter than an actual book, so I can't miss the lightness of the Kindle if I never had it right? :-P

2) What if I don't care about library books?

If you don't care about library books then the whole market is open to you. Pick the features that are important to you and decide from there. Some readers have better free book selections (personal taste), some have better options for reading other languages, some weigh more, they all have different user interfaces.

From what I've read, the Kindle is the most intuitive and super light, the Nook has great free books, and Sony is great with foreign languages.

3) How has the Nook worked out for you?

Honestly, I love it. I picked one up after Christmas, and as of today I've read eleven free books from Barnes (including 4 100ish page novellas), one book I actually paid for, and three library books (fourth one one the way, too, so yes, I do find the library compatibility useful). I personally find the free book selection pretty good. While there are a lot of titles I wouldn't touch, I downloaded more free titles than I would have from Kindle or other readers (based on the InkMesh selection). The Free Fridays books have been pretty good, too. Most of them seem to be the first book in a series or titles from authors with multiple works. I'm sure Barnes offers these titles free in order to introduce their customers to new authors and possibly get them to pay for the remaining books in a series (which it has gotten me to do), but it means that I get a good free book every Friday.

The page turn speed is fine for me, and, in general, the interface works quickly enough. The starter guide included in the Nook had me cracking up, and made me feel like I made a good choice of company.

As long as I'm being completely honest, I should give you the bad alongside all the good. My Nook has frozen on me once. I turned it off and on, and all has been well since. Also, it takes forever to open the Bible sometimes. Sometimes. Not all the time. I don't know if my Nook is to blame or if the gigantic size of the Bible is. I haven't had problems opening other books. I will note that I bought a refurbished Nook from Barnes' eBay store, and that may or may not have contributed to those minor problems. Speaking of refurbished...

To my eyes, the contrast on my Nook is not quite as sharp as my brother's new Nook. He thinks it's the same, but my eyesight is better so I think I win. It's not terrible, but his back screen looks very slightly lighter than mine. If contrast is important to you and you're looking at Nooks, I'd recommend a new one.

4) Do you ever wish you had gotten a Kindle instead?

Since I'm always on Amazon, I'm constantly bombarded by Kindle ads. Sometimes it makes me think about the characteristics of Kindles that I liked (thin and light), but honestly, there was only one time that I actually wished I had a Kindle--when I bought a cover.

Overall, I think Nook has a better selection of cute covers than Kindle, but there is one cover that I completely fell in love with...and it's only available for Kindle. I still want that cover. Well, honestly, there's a Kate Spade Nook cover that I want even more, but it's $85. There's no way I'm spending that much on a cover, so instead, I'm pining after that Kindle cover. Truly, honestly, that's the only time I wished I had a Kindle over my Nook.

5) What would you recommend for me?

I'm not a brand hater. I do my research, and find out everything I can before I make my purchases. When people ask my advice, I tell them what I honestly think would work for them, even if it's not what I bought myself. Even with cameras, I might recommend a Canon to someone who I think it would work well for even though I love, love, love my Nikon. On the other hand, I've had people who say to me, "Oh, you have a Nikon? Eew." Not my style.

I've recommended NookColor and iPads to friends who have kids (color works better for kids books, obv). Someone I know didn't care at all about library books, so I recommended Kindle and told them to check out the book selection before pulling the trigger to make sure they'd be happy. Someone else wanted one for a parent who reads foreign languages frequently. I recommended a Sony for them because I've heard that they work great for that purpose. My family all has Nooks so that they can share books with me.

So, I'm just going to reiterate my advice from #2--determine what you need from your reader and prioritize. Once you know what you need, you can figure out which reader would work best for you.

PS. That is my Nook pictured above. I just finished reading Eating Animals and would highly recommend it to everyone. It's a great book that discusses the American view on eating meat. There's a section with letters from an animal rights activist, a factory farmer and a family farmer. I loved that section. It was so interesting to read all the different views on the current American meat market. Read it.

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