Nook vs. plain old paper and ink


When the Kindle e-reader went on sale a few years ago, I scoffed. ‘Give me a paperback book any day of the week over a gadget like that,’ I thought.

Well, that was a few years ago. And while I’m still not in love with the idea of reading every book on a screen, I don’t hate the idea as much as I once did.

My family bought me a Barnes & Noble Nook Color for my birthday in December. It’s a step above the basic e-reader— it has a touch screen, and can run limited “apps” like the iPhone and iPad, as long as they’re not too fancy.

I’ve fiddled with my Nook a bit, and it’s not hard to operate. My favorite part is the free e-books that are offered through the B&N store. (Of course, cost usually reflects quality.) My aunt, who also has a Nook, has pointed out that since the device has a backlit screen, it’s useful for car rides. (Too bad most of the driving I do is back and forth to work.) And then there’s the vast selection of e-books that you have to pay for, which features the works of many of the authors I enjoy.

As you can tell, for every pro I’ve uncovered for my Nook, there seems to be a con. Of course, e-readers will fit into person’s life differently, and that should be taken into account as well.

The biggest pro of my Nook has to be the convenience. It’s nice to be able to hit a button and have the book downloaded right into my hands — and I really appreciate not having to drive to the Midland B&N every time something new I want to read comes out. The selection is also pretty wide on the Nook, and features many authors who are taking advantage of the e-book revolution to get noticed. (Not all of them are terrible.)

However, there are some pretty deterring cons. The most frustrating is, different e-readers use different formats of e-book — the format the Amazon Kindle uses is not the same as the one my Nook uses. And, of course, these formats are not compatible with the competition’s device. (Thank you capitalism.)

The iffy compatibility of the different e-book formats has made me hesitate when it comes to taking advantage of the recent blossoming of library e-book lending material. I’ve done some reading about which digital formats are used by each device, but I haven’t pinned down exactly which formats I’m looking for as a Nook user. Bottom line, I don’t expect I’ll be able to access every book in my library’s e-book list.

Now, I can understand why companies like Amazon and B&N made their e-book formats exclusive to their devices — they want to corner the market. But, as a consumer, do I resent being limited to one book store? Yes, I do.

And then there’s the fact that I can’t snap my fingers and transform my library — the plain old paper and ink books I’ve enjoyed and hung onto over the 20-some years since I learned to read — into a digital format. Thus, if I ever want to read those on my Nook, I’m going to have to buy them again. And at that, the sour old penny-pinching woman part of my soul balks.

Are e-readers for everyone? My answer would be no. Not yet, at least. There are still bugs that need to be worked out of the system, especially with compatibility. And if someone could come up with a way to digitalize all the books I have in print, I (and my over-laden bookshelves) would be grateful for life.

While I’m getting the hang of my Nook, there are times when it’s easier to simply pick up a book and flip the pages.



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I have a Kindle myself and enjoy it (convenience) immensely! The problem I have with it and the others is, how long before B & N goes by the wayside like Borders? See a music store lately or an open Blockbuster store?

We now download movies, music & books etc. Sooner or later the people that make these things (books, DVD's & CD'S) are looking for a new career. The people that log the trees to make the paper might even get a few days off as well. The Spotted Owl just got a reprieve.

I don't know how all of baby boomers got along in life without a pager, cell phone, computer & all of the other NEW electronic devices over the last 20 years that WE ALL NEED so we can all do this thing called life. I will now logged off and write my Mother a letter.

My opinion.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | Report this

By way of correction, Nook uses the epub format, which is an open standard. Most ebook sellers offer books in this format, and it is usable by most readers other than the kindle. The amazon format, azw, is proprietary, and cannot be read by most non amazon devices. Many independent booksellers offer the older .mobi format, however, which can be read by the kindle.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | Report this

I went back to the website I consulted last month when I got my Nook, and I don't know how I missed the information about the epub format. I was absolutely disgusted when I read about the Kindle-only files Amazon sells. What a relief to learn that B&N has been more open-minded about the books the Nook can handle. Thanks for the correction, nookfan!

Jessie Tobias

Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | Report this

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