After much debate, and with some very valuable information provided by old friend Dave Powell, I took the plunge and bought a Barnes & Noble Nook yesterday. I got the black and white version largely because the color version is difficult to read in bright sunlight, and I anticipate taking the thing out into the field with me from time to time. The black and white version does quite nicely in bright sunlight. The color version also costs about $70 more than the one I bought.
The debate was whether to purchase the Nook or the Amazon Kindle. My plan was to use it for the public domain books that I download from sites like Google Book Search and Internet Archive. That way, I don’t have to spend a lot of time and money printing stuff out. Instead, I can simply access what I need on the Nook and have it there with me, either in the field, or when I’m writing. In theory, it will reduce the clutter in my work area, as I won’t need the xerox copies or the actual books surrounding me while I’m writing. It will save money on toner and paper, and will also save space, as I won’t need bookshelf space for books or three-ring binders filled with print-outs. That’s the theory, anyway.
I may also use the thing for the occasional book to read on an airplane or something like that, although I really prefer a real book in those circumstances. The jury’s still out on that one.
Dave Powell is an old friend and a Civil War historian whom I really respect. I had been debating doing this for quite a while, and finally sent Dave an e-mail the other day to ask him about this, as I seemed to remember that he had a device that he uses for precisely the same purpose as what I had in mind. Dave wrote back promptly, and his input pushed me to choose the Nook over the Kindle. I will explain why.
Both devices are very similar. Both use the e-Ink technology, so the displays are virtually identical. Both have built-in Wifi, and both have built-in free 3G wireless for downloading stuff and Internet browsing. The biggest issue is with capacity. The Kindle has decent capacity, but the problem is that the capacity cannot be expanded. The Nook has a micro-SD slot, and the device’s capacity can be increased by adding a micro-SD card. It’s up to the user to decide on the size of the card the user wishes to employ.
The reason why this is important is that things downloaded in the EPUB format are typically small files, which is why Kindle advertises it can hold like 3500 books on the device. However, EPUB has a lot of issues, many of which are poor translation into the digital format, typos, etc. It’s not entirely reliable, and you can get some funky stuff. Consequently, I prefer to use PDF’s. They’re a much more accurate translation of the original book, but they’re infinitely larger files. Because of that, the ability to expand capacity with a micro-SD card is really appealing. I put an 8GB micro-SD card into the Nook today, and that greatly expanded the device’s capacity.
The downside is that the image is a bit small (both the Kindle and the Nook have screens that are six inches on the diagonal) and the PDF print comes out a bit small. However, the reading glasses that are rarely far from my reach should alleviate that problem.
The other downside is that the Kindle came first, and the Kindle format is proprietary. Consequently, a Kindle book will not work on the Nook, and vice versa. However, because the Kindle came first, a lot of publishers only do Kindle versions and not Nook versions. Fortunately, one of my publishers, Savas-Beatie, does both Nook and Kindle versions, but that’s not always the case. That’s somewhat mitigated by the fact that my primary intent for the device is to use it for stuff downloaded in PDF format anyway. However, for some people, it is definitely a consideration.
In the end, I bought the Nook due to the expandability of capacity. We also bought Susan a Kindle at the same time, so it will be interesting to compare them and to see how it plays out as both get used. And, at under $200, if a better technology comes along that is also affordable, it will be easy enough to replace the thing with the latest and greatest toy without feeling like I’m making a big sacrifice.
I will keep you posted as to how the great experiment plays out as I proceed with my work. If anyone has a story or experience with either device to share, please feel free to weigh in.Scridb filter