The Nook and I

Back in the summer, I had a brilliant idea for a birthday gift for my daughter. She’s a busy woman, a professional with a very active three year old son, a husband with a demanding career, and is on the road a lot with some national board and fellowship responsibilities. She loves to read, but it’s hard to lug extra weight around, either in a briefcase or onto public transportation.

Enter the Nook.

When Amazon released the first of their e-book devices, the Kindle, I turned to a colleague and said, “This is the first one of these things that makes me nervous about the future of libraries.” For the first time, someone had released an e-reader with wireless capabilities. That, to me, is a game changer. Want a book? Just get out the Kindle and download it in less than a minute from the Amazon website. Want to read the New York Times every morning? Order your subscription for the Kindle and there it is, waiting for you to consume with that first cup of coffee. No cables to connect, nothing to recycle.

But the first Kindles were pricey, and though they looked attractive and had their devotees, I didn’t think they were for me. I like the feel of paper—not e-Ink paper, but the real deal.

Then I bought one of these things for my daughter.

I opted for the Nook rather than the Kindle, primarily because of two things. First, my sister-in-law works for Barnes and Noble. Help your family when you can, people. Secondly, the Nook will work with Overdrive, the primary e-book technological solution used in libraries today. The Kindle does not play well with others.

My daughter loves libraries. I love libraries. The Nook made sense.

That Nook is in Miami with her right now, a thin little device that can carry thousands of books and other texts so that she can actually get her luggage on board under the weight limit. She loves it.

So why was I surprised when she returned the favor, getting me a Nook for Christmas? Though I think of myself as pretty much on top of technology, I was not exactly sure this was a device I wanted. For one thing, I’m a tightwad. I can get my books from the library; why would I pay? [See my post “Cool Cats and Web Tools” to note that I have a house full of books that I have paid for. Never mind. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds]. Though I note with fascination the things smartphones can do, I still carry a phone that is one small notch above a Jitterbug. Yes, I bought a netbook with Linux as soon as Dell had one on the market, but I usually use my full-sized laptop. [It’s all about the eyesight after 60]. So though I was grateful for the wonderful gift, I had to wonder whether it was really going to be right for me.

It’s right for me.

I downloaded the free book they offered one Friday [tightwad, I tell you!] and read all 281 free pages of it, even though it was not the world’s best literature. I discovered that it was in fact easy to read on a Nook. It fits my hands nicely, the pages look like a paper book, and turning the pages involves one slight motion of my thumb. The display is not backlit, it does not flicker even slightly, and my eyes do not feel as if they need to be removed and washed after I read an hour.

But the deal closer for me was this. I was starting to read the second of the Stieg Larsson books, The Girl Who Played with Fire, as an audiobook. I heard about ten minutes on audio and decided that I wanted to read it the regular way. The library’s copies were all checked out, and then I remembered my Nook. The best moment of all? That came when I discovered it was on sale for $5.

Sixty seconds later, I was reading.

Next time:  more about Overdrive

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