Barnes & Noble Nook: A Review

Well, I did it! I took the plunge and bought a Nook!

Everyone’s been asking me why I chose the Nook and what I like about it, so I’m going to put it all in one giant post. Let me first say that I’m not sure the Nook is the right eReader for everyone to purchase, but it was definitely the right one for me to purchase.

The Specs

Nook Wi-Fi $149
11.6 oz (328 grams)
Height: 7.7 inches
Width:4.9 inches
Depth: 0.5 inches
2GB (approximately 1500 eBooks) storage
Expandable microSD slot
MP3 player
Built-in mono speaker
Universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
Supported file types: EPUB, PDB, PDF
Wi-Fi ( 802.11 b/g)

Why Nook Won

The main reason I bought a Nook over a Kindle was that the Nook is less proprietary about eBook formats. The Nook will read PDB (B&N proprietary format), ePub, and PDF format eBooks with no problem at all. Kindle will read PDFs, but if you want your ePub format books on it, you have to run them through an extra piece of software to make it happen. So, the main consideration for me was that the reader be able to read the largest number of eBook formats possible, and Nook won on that front.

Why Kindle Almost Won

The Kindle has two features that almost made me buy it: Whispersync and Read-to-Me. Whispersync syncs your stuff between all of your devices with a Kindle reader installed (your Kindle, your iPhone, your iPad, your desktop, etc.) and keeps you at the same place in your book no matter which device you’re reading on. This is really cool, and I wish the Nook had it. Also, Kindle has Read-to-Me: With the experimental Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read content out loud to you. I haven’t heard this, so it might be too annoying for words, but it’s a cool feature, and one that I’d at least try. I’m not as sad about this one as the Whispersync, but it would still be a nice feature to have.

Stuff You Should Know Before You Buy a Nook

  1. Anything you buy from the B&N store for your Nook has the B&N DRM wrapped around it and is in the B&N proprietary eBook format, which means you can only read it on your Nook or a B&N app.
  2. The touchscreen is made of awesome.
  3. You have a lot of control over the software. You can add audio files, screensavers, your own eBooks and documents, and even use it as a file storage device.
  4. There’s no wireless syncing. To get your non-B&N material onto your Nook, you have to plug it in to your laptop USB port. (No big, it’s just that wireless would make it a little simpler.)
  5. You can’t use your B&N Membership for discounts on eBooks or on the Nook. I wish the B&N employees had told me this when I renewed my membership.
  6. Don’t expect the in-store B&N employees to know anything about the device or be any help at all with support and questions. I don’t think it’s their fault, but they haven’t been properly trained to support the device.

My Favorite Features So Far

I love that I can hold my Nook in one hand to read. I’m a paperback girl usually, and paperbacks can be a little difficult to hold in one hand, especially if you’re turning pages pretty quickly. The Nook makes it really easy for me to hold the device and turn the page at the same time, all with one hand. This, of course, leaves the other hand free for shoveling snacks into my mouth. Doh.

Purchasing books is easy. Too easy. Doh.

All in all, I am really pleased with my purchase. I’m glad I waited for the price to come down, but at the $149 price point, I feel like I got enough for my money to make it a good deal. I really wanted the eInk page reading technology as opposed to the backlit screen (like on the iPad) and it makes for a really relaxing reading experience, and one that gets me fully immersed in the book, where I think I’d have trouble with that on a backlit screen.

I think I’m going to name my Nook “sNooki.” Get it?

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  • Congrats on the Nook! I have a Kindle and am curious about how it compares. I love Whispernet, but wish the Kindle had a “borrow” feature like the Nook has.

  • Deceta

    I got my Nook as a gift. LOVE IT! Except… you're right. WAY too easy to buy books. (meaning I had a BIG “gasp” when I saw my cc bill at the end of the month and realized all of those “cheaper” books just meant I bought more of them, much more often.) I really do like the fact that i can finish a book in the middle of the night, in bed, and immediatly order the next in the series or by the author, and start on it right then, instead of having to make a trip to the store.
    It is, quite possibly, the best gift I've ever been given.

  • You're really, really not missing anything with Kindle's read-to-me function. It's dreadful. It's like listening to a Speak N Spell.

    Welcome to the dark side! I hope you love your nook as much as I love my Kindle.

  • For what it's worth, the Nook does have the text-to-speech feature built in already, it's just locked right now and presumably to buggy to use. But it's in there. So is the sync feature, but the B&N reader applications on other platforms still need to catch up. B&N just bought a reader app company instead of developing their own, and they're still working on bringing all the versions up to spec.

    So, soon enough your reasons for possibly picking the Kindle will be features of the Nook anyway.

  • Oh, thanks! Good to know!

  • That makes me feel better, Becky. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Yep, love that too Deceta. Good luck with your CC bill! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • I have only one book that has the Lend Me option available and not many people I know (like maybe 1) have a Nook, so that feature hasn't been used yet by me.

  • “You canโ€™t use your B&N Membership for discounts on eBooks or on the Nook.”

    That seems nuts. We buy a TON of books and get the most out of our membership. Really shocked they don't offer a discount on ebooks using the membership.

  • I agree whole-heartedly, Dan. I think as publishers and booksellers realize that eBooks aren't going to be a passing fad, prices will drop and discounts will work. eBook production costs are SO MUCH lower than a traditional print book's costs that I cannot understand at all why they are the same price and do not get discounts applied.

  • I agree. Just amazing that a book and ebook cost around the same amount. Though, cds and audio files via itunes cost the same… Just feels like books should cost far less in ebook format.

  • I'm curious, would you put the iPad in the eReader category along with the Nook and Kindle? Would that answer vary based on whether you approached it as a consumer or as an author?

  • Thanks for the post. I'm debating Nook, Kindle, iPad. Even though my life revolves around the digital world, I have yet to take the plunge. I can't believe my mindset is “I've always read paper books.” Geez, I sound old. Thanks again.

  • I did consider the iPad, however, I decided fairly early on that my decision would be between the Kindle and the Nook because of the eInk technology. Basically, the Kindle and the Nook display pages more like the pages of an actual book– no backlighting, very crisp, black and white. It's easier on the eyes and more relaxing. I find that staring at a computer screen before bed gives me insomnia, so reading an iPad before bed would be basically the same thing, and I want reading to be relaxing.

    As an author, I'm almost more tempted by the iPad because I think Apple really got it right on the bookstore. If iBooks becomes as dominant as iTunes, the eBook market is going to get a shake-up!

  • I was pretty worried about switching to digital for books too, at first. The only experience I really had with reading eBooks was on my iPhone. I love my iPhone, but it sucks as an eBook reader. Nook and Kindle were designed with the express purpose of making your digital book reading experience as similar to the real book reading experience, but without the hassle of carrying around actual paperbacks. I think they're pretty spot-on with it.

    I can't speak to the iPad really, because I think it is on a different level than Kindle or Nook. It's not meant as an eReader device, really. It's meant as a small multi-functional device somewhere between a phone and a laptop.

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