New Thing #184: Reading A Book On A Nook

Fey_BookI had a plan for my beach reading last week on the Cape. (Little did I realize being a father on the beach significantly cuts into reading time on the beach. But it did lead to more time than I may have ever spent in the water before.)

I was going to take advantage of this opportunity to read a book on the Nook for the first time.

I finished Bunker Hill the day before we left and cleared my plate.

And on the first morning we visited the beach I set up my chair, took out the Nook, and (amid numerous interruptions from my children) read Tina Fey's Bossypants.

My wife got the Nook a few years ago. She likes it. I kind of like it because it leads to less clutter around the house of books she's started and left sitting around.

But I had never read anything on the Nook. When my wife got the Tina Fey book electronically I resolved to make that the book I read when I first tried the new piece of technology. Obviously, it's taken me a couple of years.

I did not expect to enjoy the process of reading the book on the Nook. But it wasn't bad - especially considering the sun glare I was expecting, the screen was entirely readable.

But I'm sorry to say I didn't like the Nook more than I liked it. Here's why:

-VonnegutFirst of all, when you put the thing to sleep you have to look at images of ugly old authors. It can be jarring when you open the Nook and you have faces like this staring back at you:

-Secondly, I think it would take a lot of getting used to. Whenever the wind picked up, my hands automatically pinned down the Nook as though the pages were all going to blow in the wind. I know that's a stupid thing to not like about the Nook, but I think it speaks to how used I am to turning pages.

-Thirdly, Bossypants features a lot of footnotes. Not the kind of footnotes I talked about last week in non-fiction books which contribute to me having trouble keeping track of the forward motion of the story, but little asterisks that contain bonus jokes in the back of the book. At least I assume they're in the back of the book in hard copy form. All I saw on the Nook were these little asterisks every so often and then at the end of the book were a whole bunch of random notes that I had to remember back to where they might have appeared. (By the way, I should mention that I really enjoyed the book. There were definitely some laugh-out-loud moments.)

-Fourthly, sometimes my reading comprehension abilities (or deficiencies?) require me to go back a page or two (or many) to figure out who a character is or where a scene started or something. That is much more challenging on a Nook than it is with a book and it's the worst thing about the Nook for me. It affected the way I read this book, because I just stopped doing it if the reference I wanted to go back to was more than a page away. (There might be ways around this that I'm not aware of, but the bottom line is it's not as easy as flipping back a few pages.)

-Fifthly (and this falls in the category of things that may have since been fixed or upgraded since my wife bought her Nook), as easy as the Nook was to read on the beach in the sun, when we were sharing a room with my daughters in the hotel and I didn't want to turn on a light to read, it was impossible to read the Nook. There was no backlight or glow option or anything. It just sat dark there in the dark.

-Sixthly, sometimes I like to write in a text as I read, John Adams-style. If nothing else it makes me feel more intelligent, like I'm engaging with my reading in a valuable way. That's impossible on a Nook.

There's a menu at the bottom of the Nook that I didn't explore all that much outside of getting into the book from the main menu. Maybe it fixes all of the things I mentioned above. I don't know. But I don't know if I'm willing to find out.

I'm not knocking the Nook for you - if you enjoy it good for you. And I'm sure there are youngsters out there who never considered reading some books and are reading on Nooks and improving their skills.

But I'll take my good old-fashioned paper book, thank you very much.