Literature lovers know that it is the literary creation – the prose and poetry, thoughts and ideas, fictional world and characters, etc., created by great wordsmiths – that is important, and that the physical container for that creation – the book pages, covers, bindings, and in the case of ebook readers, the hardware and software are very much secondary. Read a wonderful book and in the space of the first few pages, we are immersed in and seduced by the author’s words, the consequence of which the physical book or ebook reader disappears from our attention.
A good ebook reader should strive to be like that. In the case of the Nook, I must say it failed on many counts.
First, and there is only one, the good thing about the Nook: The main screen for displaying the book pages is excellent; the almost cream-white background makes the text sharp and stand-out. You will not have vision fatigue even if you read for hours.
Now for the bad stuff.
The Nook, being almost as twice tall as wide is not a good form factor for an ebook reader. It felt unbalanced and top-heavy making you tired of lugging it around as you would when enjoying a good paper-printed book. For an ebook reader with the same functions and capabilities as the SONY ebook reader, it is heavier and thicker, and that will tire a reader soon enough. It also has a horizontally curved back which does not feel right sitting on my hands and of which the purpose or intent of the designers escapes me.
The Nook’s software is Google’s Android OS. I suppose being basically just an ebook reader (it can play MP3 audio too), and a software store front for Barnes & Noble bookshop, it does not put too much of a burden on Android. It is where the designers place the OS that is the weakest implementation of this ebook reader. The OS is placed in a second screen which is at the bottom and takes up one-fifth of the total screen. This to me seems like a gratuitous attempt just to have a color touchscreen; it not only makes the Nook overly tall but also this menu screen destroys the comfort of reading – my visual attention is constantly distracted by this bottom screen: if the menu screen is lighted up, it is brighter that the book screen, and if it is off, it looks like a shiny reflective (yeah, you could see your ugly mug reflected all the time as you read) solar panel-wannabe. Terrible. Why don’t the designers shortened the height of the Nook and implement the menu OS as a pop-up window on the main screen? Who gives a shit about a color touchscreen to operate a simple ebook reader? I just want to read a Nabokov or J.K. Rowling offering comfortably and distraction-free.
Finally, since the Nook can play MP3 (and has small speakers at the bottom) as well as a clock, why don’t the designers put an alarm clock in there? You know us: we like to snuggle to bed with a nice book and slowly fall asleep. The alarm would be a nice touch. Other ebook reader manufacturers please pay attention.
Finally, and other Nook users correct me if I am wrong, there is no way to jump from one page to another by selecting a particular number. This means if you have closed a James A. Michener novel at page 337, selected another book to read, and then wished to return to where you last read James Michener, you are out of luck; you have to start from the opening page and press the page forward button 337 times.
I can design a better ebook reader.
CORRECTION: I stand partly corrected by Jon. There is no way to enter a page number and jump to the desired place in the book. But yes, if a book (PDF or ePub) is properly made with TOC or Chapters, then you can choose this from the menu. Also, if you have closed a book, you can return to the “Furtherest Read Point.” Finally, of course, you can bookmark any page in the book and return to this by selecting from the “Bookmark” menu.