Nook Advances

I’m a Kindle man. Not only do I have a book about Harry Potter selling for Kindle, but I own a Kindle, and I read books on my iPod Touch with Kindle software.

But I like Barnes and Noble (BN), largely because a local store allowsLiberty In the Books (a group I help run) to meet there. So, every month, I walk through the store and talk to the staff about the latest developments for the Nook. (I’ve caught a bit of ribbing for bringing my Kindle into BN.)

The brilliant thing is that both the Kindle and the Nook now sell for $139 — very reasonable even for lower-income consumers. Virtually all well-known public-domain books are available for free for these devices.

It now seems very likely that BN’s Nook is here to stay, and that it will save the company.

Impressively, the new Nook brings together two important features, so far as I’m aware for the first time: e-ink (and the long battery life that comes with it) and a touchscreen. (Thank goodness the new Nook dropped that idiotic split screen of earlier models, part touch and part e-ink.)

Frankly, I’ve taken to reading on my iTouch more than my Kindle. There are several reasons for this. The Touch fits in my pocket, so I can take it pretty much anywhere. I really like navigating a book with the touchscreen. On the Kindle, it’s a real hassle to click down to the link and jump back and forth. While I like the Kindle screen, the Touch looks great, and I haven’t noticed any eye strain. Plus, whether I’m reading a printed book, the Kindle, or a Kindle book on the Touch, I tend to use the Touch to take notes. So, if I’m reading from the Touch, I can read and take notes on the same device. (I wouldn’t dream of trying to take notes on the clunky Kindle.)

The new Nook isn’t small enough to fit in my pocket, but it is touchscreen, which must help a lot. Goodbye, mouse-sized keypad! And, while the Touch is a much more versatile device, it also currently starts at $229.

I predict that, until Kindle adopts touchscreen technology, the Nook will make larger inroads into Amazon’s potential market.

One question is how powerful the Nook is as a pad computer. A BN staffer suggested to me that a variety of applications are coming for the device. Unfortunately, I am unable to find ready information about this. If the Nook can also serve as a word processor, and perhaps even as an email and web device, that will greatly improve its value.

(I have not actually held or even seen the new Nook. If Barnes and Noble would care to lend or gift me one, I would be happy to write up a full review, complete with a disclosure. Given that my wife and I already have four digital reading devices between us, including our Mac, I just can’t justify buying a fifth.)

Even though I’m unlikely personally to buy a Nook, I’m glad it exists. It gives BN a real chance of surviving and perhaps even thriving as a company (or as a division of some other company), and it has noticeably motivated Amazon to keep improving the quality of the Kindle while lowering its price. Hurray, capitalism.


Allen commented May 29, 2011 at 10:33 AM
“I wouldn’t dream of trying to take notes on the clunky Kindle.”

Interesting; I’m the opposite. I read on the iTouch when I’m in a pinch (e.g. standing at the microwave at work warming up lunch). And I prefer to take notes on the Kindle.

Angelina commented May 31, 2011 at 3:28 PM
I can’t wait to try out the new Nook! I currently have the older version (with both e-ink and touch screen) and I really love it. However, it doesn’t mean that there’s not room for improvement. I like the idea of a touch screen. I don’t do much else on my Nook but read, so it doesn’t really have to have a lot of extra features.