Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Nook: First Impressions

I've gone to the dark side: I purchased my first ebook reader this weekend.

Okay, I've experimented with ebooks in the past, but never on a dedicated reader. When I was a teenager, back when iMesh and KaZaa were still new (and free), I tried to read some of Clive Barker's stuff on my computer, quickly got annoyed, and went and bought it in paperback. Four or five years ago, I bought a Pocket PC and tried to read .lit files on it. Again, I got discouraged and bought the same ebooks in paper form. More recently, I read ebooks on my Android phone with a two-dollar app, but that, too, led to disappointment—the app itself was as good as market apps get, but no software can physically change the hardware setup... reading on such a tiny screen is a bitch.

As I've indicated before, I was extremely skeptical of ebook readers. I wanted to wait until the devices became cheaper and better and, above all, I wanted to see who and what formats would beat out the rest. I also wanted the DRM shit to go away, which punishes the law-abiding folks and merely annoys the criminals. So then why did I buy one?

It was a mixture of curiousity and boredom, I suspect. I also forgot half the crap I wrote in that last article. That's me: good memory until it comes to things I said, I wrote, or things that matter.

I bought a Nook, the ebook reader sold at Barnes & Noble. I didn't like it very much at first. It was, initially, the most confusing device I've ever met. The loading times aren't that great, but they're not brutal either.

Then it kind of grew on me. About the e-ink, I previously wrote:

The first time I saw one in real life, I thought I was looking at a demonstration display until I flipped to the next page. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were reading an actual piece of paper. 

The initial reaction is one thing, but you really can't appreciate e-ink until you've spent several hours with it. I bought mine yesterday afternoon and spent eight hours on it. Eyes hurting? Not at all. Battery depleted? Not much. I haven't made a conscious effort to charge it yet, but it's been plugged into my computer a lot for USB transfers, which happens to charge the device.

I should note that on my way home from buying the Nook, I passed one of my favorite book stores. Then I felt very ashamed.