Let’s Talk NOOK !
Let’s Talk NOOK ! Recently I wrote an article about the Amazon Kindle (one appropriately if unimaginatively titled Let’s Talk KINDLE !). The crux of my essay was that e-readers are the best thing to hit RV’s since flush toilets.
There are many e-readers available for your purchasing pleasure. One of the most popular rhymes with “book.” Why did I choose to focus on Kindle? Conspiracy theories abound. Am I biased? Have I loaded up our investment portfolio on AMZN? Or am I merely an Amazon fanboy who wears Jeff Bezos pajamas?
Nah. While I may be a bit of an Amazon fanboy, I wrote about Kindle because Amazon is currently KING KONG of the e-reader world. Yes, if recent sales figures are to be believed, Amazon is now perched on a skyscraper high above E-Reader Metropolis with Fay Wray sitting on its lap. Or is that Jeff Bezos in a dress?
Anyway, with Kindles selling faster than mouse ears at Disney World, it’s good to be King Kong. But if there’s a pesky swarm of biplanes on the horizon, it’s the Barnes & Noble NOOK.
The Nook is a series of e-reader devices sold by everyone’s favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore behemoth. These range from inexpensive e-ink readers (Nook Simple Touch) to more robust tablets (Nook Color & Nook Tablet). You can buy Nooks online, in 90,000-square-foot bookstores, in shady back alleys, and even in exotic specialty stores like Walmart.
After slugging it out with Amazon, Apple, and Sony for a couple of years, Barnes & Noble has carved out 25% of the e-reader market. I’m not sure whether that share grew or shrank this past retail quarter. But if a Nook tickles your fancy, current market share shouldn’t matter. Nooks are excellent devices and they have garnered a large and dedicated following. In fact, there’s a Nookite in my own family.
About a year ago, my wife was choosing between Kindle and Nook. She chose NOOK. Why?
“I liked that I could check out e-books from our local library on Nook,” she told me, “and it was also easier to lend and borrow books from friends.”
Over the past year, Amazon has made strides by adding these features to Kindle, but her points were well taken. Nook was first to embrace book lending. Amazon arrived late to the party.
“Also,” she added, “I like that Barnes & Noble has real brick-and-mortar bookstores. If I bring my Nook into a store I can read any book for free. Sometimes they offer complementary coffees and that sort of thing to Nook owners.”
A national network of physical bookstores? Free hot beverages? The occasional slice of pumpkin pie? Amazon won’t be adding those benefits anytime soon. Advantage: Nook.
Another feature of Nook that appeals to the geek in me is the micro SD card slot. The micro SD slot allows owners to easily expand the memory capacity of their Nooks. The only Kindle with such a slot was the first generation unit that Amazon no longer sells. All of the new Kindles have no memory expansion. (Sometimes I think Jeff Bezos graduated from The Steve Jobs School of Dumbing It Down.)
Along these lines, one exciting development in the world of NOOK was the Nook Color. While its full color backlit touchscreen is not as eye-friendly as e-ink screens, it is fantastic for displaying magazines and children’s books. But the real excitement? Nook Color could be “rooted” and converted into an Android tablet. Thousands of people bought and “rooted” Nook Color to Android so they could check Facebook, play Angry Birds, etc. In a way, these hacked Nook tablets paved the way for the Kindle Fire. Of course, now there’s also a fancy $249 Nook Tablet that offers a few spec sheet upgrades over the Kindle Fire.
The Nook Tablet is a premium color ereader. At $249, it’s half the price of the cheapest Apple iPad. It’s also $50 more than Kindle Fire. But it’s loaded with more memory than the Kindle Fire (1GB of RAM which makes it more speedy), allows for capacity expansion via the micro SD slot (only 1GB reserved for user content, but easily expandable up to 32GB), and an integrated microphone. The idea of the microphone is genius – it allows grandparents to narrate books for their grandchildren.
We could spend all day debating the technical pros and cons of “Nook versus Kindle,” but it strikes me as a “Ford versus Chevy” type of argument. Both camps have their loyal fans. Really, with the exception of the occasional tech failure, I’ve never heard an owner of either device regret their purchasing decision. At the end of the day, either a Nook or a Kindle will get you where you want to go.
You first need to decide exactly what you want to do. In other words, do you mainly want to read books? If so, a true “e ink” device with a black-and-white is what you want. Trust me, these black-and-white readers are fantastic for extended reading sessions. The screens are simply easy on the eyes.
If you want to do Facebook, browse the Web, and so forth, then your choices become more spendy and a little more complex. In a future article we will delve deeper into the pros and cons of ereaders. But there’s one more popular reader that we need to address, and we’ll do that in the next update.
And yes, if you “want to go” check out my little $2.99 ebook about RV camping, it’s available on Nook too.