My first 12 hours with the Nook

QUICK FIRST IMPRESSIONS

What I Like

Support for even protected (DRM) ePub & PDF eBooks from multiple vendors

Decent sized, glare-resistant eInk Screen

Expandable Memory

USB, wall charger and Quick Start instruction booklet right in the box

What I Don’t Like

No Backlight on reading screen

Weight

USB and computer required to load anything other than a BN purchase.

WiFi (free in BN stores) or 3G required for wireless purchases (which are limited to items in BN eBookStore)

High learning curve

Very slooooow start-up from Off to On (considerably quicker from Sleep mode to On but not sure about battery drain in the standby mode )

The Beta version Web Browser

MORE IN DEPTH IMPRESSIONS…

My first thought taking it out of the box was “Damn this thing is heavy.” It’s probably about the weight of a good-sized hardcover, the difference being I would lay a hardcover in my lap or hold it in 2 hands while reading, whereas with the Nook I found myself holding it in one hand (and used my other dominant hand to navigate pages) and felt the fatigue in my muscles fairly quickly. Add to that weight the cover I plan on buying so I don’t scratch this thing and it will be even heavier in my hand and in my purse.

My second thought, after charging it and turning it on in my bedroom where I only have two 40-watt bulbs in the wall sconces on either side of the bed was “Am I going blind?”.  Though the teeny tiny color touch screen at the bottom is backlit, the main, larger eInk reading screen is not. It was nearly impossible to read last night. I will have to put 60 watt bulbs in. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had an iPod Touch for reading eBooks for over a year I am spoiled by the backlight which I use all the time to read in bed, or on an airplane, or in a dark car.

That said, my iPod Touch is nearly impossible to read in direct sunlight, where the Nook’s eInk screen will be perfect for beach or poolside reading. So that is a plus for the Nook that I’m not sure balances the lack of a backlight. Yes I know I can buy an external booklight for it, but that is one more thing to buy, carry and juggle.

The ability to load and read even protected eBook files (in both ePub and PDF format) purchased from any eBook vendor is a HUGE plus for this device. I loaded books I’d purchased from All Romance eBooks, the Sony store, and Borders eBookstore, as well as PDF files of my own books I created myself on the computer. Even the protected files opened just fine. The nearly total lack of instructions of how to load these files onto the device because Barnes & Noble wants to keep your reading dollars in their own store was expected I guess, but still bad form on their part in my opinion. I would consider myself better at tech stuff than the average user, though no expert, and it took me a while of trial and error to get my files on there. But I did get them on there and they work.

However, as mentioned above, the learning curve is high. A lot of the functionality is counter-intuitive. Things like the fact it has to be ON or in SLEEP mode to charge was a surprise that I only discovered after plugging it in and turning it off (so it would charge faster) and then perusing the Quick Start booklet while I waited for it to charge, which is was not doing because I’d turned it off.

My usability test is this… Could my mother use it without calling me for help? The answer for the Nook is no. This is not the device for my Mom who is still figuring out how to use her email on her first laptop.

The dual screens are also problematic. I keep trying to swipe the reading screen, instead of clicking the arrows on the sides (ala the Sony). Meanwhile, the tiny color swipe screen on the bottom is too small to be of value and adds nothing but weight and bulk to the device. The beta web browser is not worth the effort. The teeny tiny color bookcover thumbnails that show up in that screen are too small to be worthwhile also.

There are some features that are a nice idea but I don’t think I will use them, such as the bookmark and highlight feature. I can see these being extremely useful for readers such as book reviewers or students. There is also a dictionary to look up words while you are in the book. I’ll be reading trashy romance on this device so I think I know all the words I’ll encounter. One thing that amuses me but is not a consideration for purchase is the author portrait sketches that appear during sleep mode.

What just 12 hours with this device has taught me as an author is this…

The info readers get while making purchases from the BN eStore directly from their Nook device is sketchy at best. This totally explains the many nasty comments and reader ratings my poor little 2,000-word free read got in the BN store. The readers downloading it likely never saw the length or the heat level before downloading. From now on I will include the blurb, the word count and a warning on the copyright page of my free reads.

My Nook trial and error has also proven that what I’ve already started doing (thanks to my friend Julie) is totally necessary…I reduce any bookcover I create down to 100 x 150 to see how it looks as a thumbnail. All authors and cover artists better do this because if eBooks are the future and devices such as the Nook may be the medium through which our customers find us, that bookcover had better be legible when miniscule (smaller than the 100×150).

Lastly, I will check any metatags, file names and author fields in depth in the files I create because even though you think you named your book file a certain title, there is sneaky metadata in there that will show up when a reader loads your book onto their device. Some is not so pretty. Just something to be aware of.

So that’s it. My first impressions. I can’t speak to the battery life as yet since I haven’t really given it a good test. I am excited to finally read on the nice big screen while lounging on the beach next week, all of the many unread eBooks I had sitting in folders on my laptop. But in a perfect world I’d ditch the bottom screen (which would make the device smaller and lighter) and give the reading screen a backlight. And expand the instructions to better tell readers how to load files from their computer.

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