The Nook Report, Part 2

Now that I’ve had a few days to read on the Nook, here are my thoughts on the experience.

First and foremost, I am sold on the virtue of a one-use reading device for a reason I hadn’t foreseen: if all the device does is show you the books, there’s nothing on it to distract you from actually reading the story. There’s no “oh wait I’ll just check Twitter/Facebook/LJ/my email/the news/etc.” going on. I really like that. It makes reading on the Nook feel a lot more like reading on a real book.

I was pleased to note as well that the screen refresh stopped bothering me. Apparently I’m not the only one this has happened to, so that’s good to know. If you’re thinking of getting an e-ink reader and the initial flash of screen refresh is weird to you, feel free to take this as consolation!

I’m still disappointed with the device’s general lack of book organization, though. The lovely scrollable display of color book covers only works with your Barnes and Noble content; if you’ve got a lot of non-B&N books, like my Fictionwise and Stanza and Drollerie books, then they all get put into your “My Documents” bucket. Which doesn’t have the scrollable cover capability. This is a drag, and I really wish that Barnes and Noble would allow for, at least, treatment of Fictionwise and content the same as B&N content, since they do after all own both of those properties.

Really, though, I’d prefer to just see it give you a way to access all your books the same way. One of the reasons I wanted to shift to a reading device was that I found it annoying on the iPhone to have my library spread out through five, count ’em, five applications. Having the Nook force me to split my library into B&N content and non-B&N content is the same problem, only less severe.

I could do the workaround of just manually sideloading my B&N content to the My Documents directory, sure. But the problem with that is that the display of your content from My Documents is really rudimentary. You get a listing of titles that you can either sort by author or sort by title, and nothing fancier than that; it’s not even visually broken up by first letter or anything.

I did at least discover that the “Reading Now” button on the main screen does take you directly to whatever book you’re currently reading, which is good to know. Before I found that, my only means to get back to whatever book I’m working on reading was to page through the My Documents listing till I found the right file. And since I’ve got 16 pages of files, that’s annoying. The “Reading Now” button is an acceptable workaround until something fancier is implemented, and I really hope something will be. At least, there should be a menu to let you jump to the appropriate letter of the alphabet as I see in several of the reader apps on my iPhone; more elegant would be a little bit of search capability that would let you type in a bit of the pertinent author or title and jump straight to those works.

All in all, despite my issues with the file organization, I’m enjoying the experience of reading on it. It’s very convenient at lunch since I can just lay the Nook on the table in front of me, and it’s bigger and more readable than the iPhone. It’s also easier to manipulate, for me; I find the pinching of the side to turn a page nicer on my hands than having to tap the iPhone’s screen, especially one-handed. (Thumb-tapping on the iPhone one-handedly, I have discovered, weirdly strains the muscles at the base of my left thumb.)

I haven’t yet tried its music playing capability and probably won’t, since the iPhone has that functionality covered nicely and I’m used to having a tiny music player nestled in my pocket. Plus, again, don’t need the distraction from reading! Apparently there are folks who can read and listen to music at the same time, but I’m not one of them.