About a year ago I gushed about the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader. Well, lately I’ve been reading about their new version, now called the Simple Touch Nook. This time I didn’t wait months and months to get one…I grabbed it the week it came out. Got lucky, too, as the B&N downtown was out of stock — all they had was one reserved by a customer who never came in to pick up, so the guy sold it to me instead. You snooze you lose, bitches! Anyway…
Not only does this version have a screen that’s a bit brighter and cleaner-looking, but it’s touch-sensitive so you can tap and drag and all that other stuff that people like to do with their gadgets these days. It’s not a tablet, though…it’s simply an ebook reader. They removed all the extra crap like audiobook capability (including the headphone jack that accompanies it) and the 3G option, choosing to focus on reading as much as possible.
It’s also shed nearly half its weight from the previous version so it’s extremely light and comfortable to hold for long periods of time (the old one used to be kind of a pain to read in bed), and the screen flashes from page turns are vastly reduced from the previous model. Just tap the left or right side of the screen or press one of the buttons to turn a page. Even more than before, this thing makes it easy to get lost in a book. It doesn’t even show you a clock at the top of the screen when you have a book open, so you’re not tempted to keep track of time.
So while I love the device and find it a pleasure to use, I’m not so enamored by by ebook prices. Really, publishers? You’re going to charge $14.99 for a virtual book that has zero manufacturing cost? Most ebooks tend to be around $9.99 though, which is a little better but still too much. I think $4.99 is a little more reasonable for older books, and $9.99 for new releases. But I also live in Happy Land, in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane! (Thanks, Homer… :))
The DRM (copy protection) is another bit of bullshit you have to put up with when buying from the big ebook sellers like B&N, Amazon, and Apple — it’s meant to prevent piracy, but what it essentially does is lock you into using only ONE device for your ebooks. Sure, you can also read them on your cellphone or PC, but you’re limited to their crappy reading software when there are far better alternatives out there. When I buy any digital content — books, music, video — I expect to be able to stick it on any device I choose and play it with whatever I choose. There are ways to strip the DRM from ebooks, it’s easily found on the Net. All it takes is a little time and tinkering to figure it out. But I digress… You can also “sideload” books and other files to read so you’re not just stuck with the B&N store. In fact, you can read books from several other ebook stores, some of which might have a lower price, as well as download ebooks from your local library if it supports them. You have to load them to the Nook via Adobe Digital Edtions, but it works like a charm.
In a nutshell, I love this gadget! Using it is a breeze and the price is just right, too. If you’re not attached to paper books, give this a look. (Oh yeah, and don’t be fooled when you look at a demo Nook and the screen looks dirty or has “ghosting” from previous page turns — the demo I saw had this same problem, but the one I bought didn’t. I think a reset does the trick to clear things out when that happens.)