Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's a Book! No, It's a Vook! No, It's a... Nook?

As Joseph L. Selby pointed out in yesterday's comments, Barnes and Noble just unveiled the Nook, and I must say, it is a handsome device indeed. And with its dual screens, Wi-Fi capability, an open format, and (GET THIS) a "book lending" feature, I think it's my new favorite reader. (Sorry, Sony... we can still be friends.) And what are you talking about, Kindle? We were never anything at all.

With the e-reader market exploding and some even more promising technology on the way, I feel I must reiterate my position that e-books are absolutely the future of reading/writing/publishing. Don't get me wrong: there will be challenges, and there are some of you who will only surrender your printed books when pries them from your cold, dead fingers, but I think change is in the air (and has been for awhile) and while e-books certainly won't spell the end of publishing, they're going to be game-changers. Industry professionals who can't keep one step ahead of said game (or at least keep up) will be left behind.

Which brings me to today's question: has Barnes & Noble's e-reader changed your opinion about the technology in any way? Are you more likely to buy a Nook than a Kindle?


  1. I can't believe you wrote that entire post and didn't make a nookie joke.

    I'm not gonna buy one. It's not that I'm some kinda paper fanatic, but printed books meet my needs perfectly. Maybe if I loved gadgets, but that's not really my thing. I'm more into story.

  2. I am all over this. I mentioned several months ago, somewhere in the blogoshere, that e-books should have the ability for other apps and games. I have two boys, and an e- reader that lets you do homework (read a chapter, etc), then take a mini-break playing a game...well, that's going to be popular with lots of people.

    I still haven't bought any e-reader. Probably will give it another year to see what other features can be added/refined, but The Nook sounds awesome!

  3. I'm more into story.

    Anon, I envision that one day you'll be able to read a story on an e-reader, and scroll over certain passages for a more interactive experience (whether it'll be the author reading the passage, a mini movie and by that I don't mean those God-awful book trailers posing as movies, a photograph, etc. The possibilities are endless for enhancing the story experience)

  4. More like

  5. I think I'm the only one of my friends without a Blackberry - my day planner is the paper kind with decorative flowers all over it - because I'm an old-school girl. So while I'll be one of the ones that will have to have the printed book pried from her cold, dead hands, when I do get an e-reader it'll be after reading customer reviews of all the ones out there. I read 200 customer reviews just to pick out my vacuum - but I'm really, really happy with my vacuum.:)

  6. When I look at the Nook, or the Que, or any of these "cutting-edge" e-readers, they just look busy. Overly busy. Distracting, even. A book has a relatively clean, simple-to-use interface. No drop-down menus or wireless capabilities. Just, you know, a book.

    I love gadgets, but only to the extent that they improve my life. I already stare at screen all day...why would I want to curl up with another one at night? I think the market for these will continue to grow, but then, so did the market for the cassette tape, and the CD, and now everyone is realizing how much they liked vinyl because it's tactile and aesthetically pleasing to have a shelf full of records.

    I think everyone is so crazy about e-readers right now because they need a life raft--but none of it matters if you're not producing writing that people actually want.

  7. I asked for a nook for Christmas. What sold me was the Wifi, the ability to take books from my memory card and store them on a hard drive (no stealing my books from me Amazon) and colored cover art. I love cover art; it's part of the book experience. The nook lets me see it in color! Still, you'll have to pry physical books from my cold, dead hands.

  8. I would like to point out that there is a large number of people who only buy a few books a year. I imagine they drive a lot of the mega best-selling authors: they buy a commercial bestseller or two for a vacation or because someone at the office said it was a wonderful read.

    These people don't need the kindle. They aren't going to plonk down money for another electronic gadget that may be used a few times a year, or never if you only read during your beach vacation.

    So while there will be a market for the kindle/kindle related product, my instinct is that it will be much smaller than some people are anticipating, simply because it's a small minority of the population that read books regularly enough to justify having a kindle.

  9. i might get one a few years down the road, when the technology has evened out and the prices drop.
    But i'm not going to give up my paper books either...

  10. I would be all over the Nook if it were under a hundred dollars. I will still be one of the dead still clutching my books, but I'd invest in a Nook if the price was right.

  11. Here's my (serious) only real concern--you know how there's the whole brain tumor/cell phone link and the notion that you shouldn't plunk your laptop on your, well, lap, to avoid the output etc--will I need to worry about what I'm exposing myself to every time I want to read a book--typically you put a book very near your body. A paper book doesn't give off any emfs, dude.

  12. Just got a Kindle so I won't be in the market for another ereader until the technology catches up and costs come down. Which will happen, and somebody is going to come up with something less proprietary. (I know Sony's eReader is supposed to be agnostic but I keep reading that it isn't, really, so who knows?)

  13. I guess my question is about the lack of Word document support.

    With a Sony, I can pretty easily take a Word document and convert it to the right format for the Reader, and it reads well.

    This says it supports PDF but not Word. I can change a Word doc to a PDF very easily, but will it read as well?

    My main need is to read submissions, and other manuscripts that aren't published yet. So this is key.

  14. Nope. No e-book reader of any kind will ever grace my pocket. I've *tried* reading some of the free books on my ipod touch and it just feels wrong. Very very wrong. I can't stay engrossed in my story because it won't say in my head. And I'm one of those people who normally are drooling over all things new & shiny when it comes to tech.

    Give me my dead tree carcass or give me death!

  15. This is the e-book reader to beat. I may not get one any time soon because I'm broke, but I would by 2 of these before I would buy a Kindle. I just want libraries to get lots more copies of e-books. Or to be able to buy books second hand in ebook format.

  16. I already have a kindle, so I don't think I'll go buy a Nook any time soon. I think the real turn to e-books will happen when public schools realize that it is cheaper to issue every student an e-reader loaded with all their text books than to give each kid a dozen heavy books. Once kids all have their school issued e-readers, the e-books percentage of the market share will sky rocket.

  17. I would totally buy one if I hadn't already bought a Kindle. There have been times I regretted buying it, but the way I see it, I'll be happy with it for now. When the next even more fabulous eReader comes out, then I'll discard my Kindle (or try to sell it on craig's list.)
    What would it take for me to disregard the near-laptop price I spent on the Kindle? Well, BN's special features and content when you're in their store with a Nook almost did it for me on top of it's other features.

    But what I really want is a full-screen color e-ink touch screen. Not just a 3.5 inch one that stays at the bottom reminding me I'm not holding a book in my hands. It's a lot to ask, but for me, that's what would cause me to disregard the near-laptop price I invested in my Kindle DX.

  18. Chris Eldin:

    Yeah, I think that's probably true (the whole 'author reading the passage, a mini movie' thing). And I even think the day will come when that stuff sounds -good- to me, instead of like antifreeze frosting on a delicious donut. But right now, I'd pay money to -not- have that crap in books I read. I'm sure this is a generational thing, but I feel that paper books do an almost perfect job.

  19. Sorry. After being on looking at a computer screen all day, the last thing I want do is sit down at the end of the day another gadget. Rather than read on a screen and push buttons on a Nook, I'll stick with A BOOK--a real book, that is.

  20. Woo hoo, I'm famous! The Nook has gotten me to surrender to the pricing structure that seems solidified in the market now that they've matched Amazon. It's a huge profit margin, but now the goal is to make sure publishers don't try to reduce author royalties with some BS about the differences of the ebook market (which has been happening, I might add). I appreciate that I'll be able to see the color cover, even if it is small. I like the pretty colors but I want e-ink, and the Nook delivers on both.

    I don't usually buy first gen electronics. I'm more of a third-gen type of guy, but I'll probably get a Nook. My bookshelves are sagging and I just don't have room to expand any further. I'm hesitant on the price tag, but as long as it sells well enough to warrant a second gen release, the price will come down as competition grows.

    I don't like the kindle's design, DRM, or limited format options. (I'm not an editor or a student, I don't need a keyboard.) I don't like Sony's limited titles or its limited battery/memory capacity. Later versions of the sony ereader seemed to be moving away from e-ink and I want e-ink! Then the indies: the ipod clones without imagination or the truly ingenious that have the $30 new releases. Sorry, dude, I'm not going to pay $30 for a new release when the hard back costs me $25.

    I'm a Borders buyer, not Barnes & Noble, but boy did B&N just hit one out of the park with me. As soon as it's released I'm going to the store and give it a try. If it meets my expectations, I'll pick one up and buy all my new titles in ebook format if they're available.

  21. Incidentally, Kate, educational publishers can't wait until schools decide to start issuing electronic textbooks. We've buy pushing in that direction for years and desperately want it to happen. There's nothing your educational publisher hates more than a used book store, and electronic books and licensing fees will allow us to finally deal the deathblow. One electronic book and a license fee per student means that each book is sold to every student every semester/year. While the price will be half to 2/3 of what the printed text would have been, the overhead is so much smaller that the profit just shoots through the roof.

  22. bebe: "This says it supports PDF but not Word. I can change a Word doc to a PDF very easily, but will it read as well?"

    Yes, it probably will. Word converts to PDF quite easily. There is also the Callibre software, which seems to convert everything into everything.

  23. It's very pretty and sleak, but no, it doesn't make me anymore likely to buy one. I won't call myself techno-phobic (I love my laptop), but I'll say techno-reluctant. Everything is so overly complicated today, absolutely filled with bells and whistles. I don't want any of it, especially when it comes to reading. I don't want to be connected to the internet, I want to be connected to the story.

    Count me out.

  24. I have a 2-year-old Sony and am looking to upgrade to something that has wireless downloading and is compatible with my Mac. I'm still leaning toward the Kindle, though, just because I don't know much about the Nook yet. And I order so much from Amazon anyway, it is just easier for me. I have loved my Sony- as easy on the eyes as paper but without the ink smudged fingers and physical space required in your purse. Also it stays open on it's own so I can easily continue reading while I blow dry my hair, brush my teeth, eath with both hands...
    Yes I read that much.

  25. Alright, despite the fact that I love my books (heavy or not, they're so PRETTY!), I did stop and go "ohhhhhhh" when I read about the book lending feature. That's nifty.

    I think e-readers are best suited for editors, agents, students, teachers, and anyone else who has to schlep around a bazillion books at all times. I'm currently in the "against" camp for the general public, but there's a teeny voice telling me that I might one day own one. I'm holding out as long as possible, because right now I see it as way too much of a non-necessity. Like Ashley, I'm "techno-reluctant," despite the cool possibilities.

  26. The Nook is the best so far and I like the color cover art. But I'll wait. They will get even better quite quickly, no doubt.

    Clinging to my paperback novels.

  27. "Are you more likely to buy a Nook than a Kindle?

    YES. Are you crazy? My top complaint about e-books is the inability to lend them to friends!

    *reads article* And the loaning can be in multiple methods/formats. And PDF files? O.O

    Shoot, I'd better start quietly squirreling change away to save up for getting an e-reader in the next few years. By then, I should have some choices, and one of the ones with lending capability should also have a search function... and annotations aren't a dealbreaker, but I'd use them if I had 'em. ^_^

  28. LOL @ Antifreeze donut anon!

    I remember similar conversations about 15 years a conference room when I had a real job in my other life... we were all brainstorming ways the internet would affect clothing sales. Would product eventually be sold totally online? Or would the human touch still be important (eg would the sales clerk in a store be replaced by a drop-down menu on a fancy schmancy website). Turns out they both exist. We can order our comfy Lands End shoes online, or go to the mall and buy them in person. I have a feeling the same will be true of books. Both models will find a place in the market.

  29. I wasn't planning to get an e-reader this soon, but since a few friends now have e-books out it seems I must bite that bullet. At least the Nook has other apps…I love that you can resume reading on a desktop or Blackberry right where you left off. Nifty, indeed! And now my husband can stop having nightmares about our towers of books tumbling down on our dogs...maybe.

  30. It lets you LEND!

    I think this is huge. I agree with Carradee that this overcomes a major issue about e-readers, and will just accelerate ownership in that growing YA market - hottest gift item for Christmas among teens?

    I'm not going to get one, but maybe for my 13 year old niece . . .

  31. Yeah, the lending feature is exciting to me. That's the one thing that's been lacking (in my opinion) in e-readers so far. I hope the other e-readers pick up on this so by the time the technology comes to Thailand for $50, I'll be able to treat my e-books just like my regular books.

  32. You bet. I was lukewarm on the idea of an e reader at all until I read all about that shiny new gadget yesterday. The Nook popped to the top of my Christmas list (I always did like the idea of a reading nook).

  33. Had a Sony e-reader. Intriguing, but ultimately it underwhelmed me. It felt outdated out of the box. Slow. A bit clunky. Black and white. Where's the hand crank? Felt like a curio instead of a tool for serious readers. If they could have hired away just one Apple designer...

    Kindle2? Sorry Bezos. A $489 dowry is a bit steep for an arranged marriage to your brainchild. Can I go on a date with it first?

    I'm a B&N man. Every Christmas, birthday and excuse involves Barnes & Noble. Love browsing a real store with real coffee aroma and real dreams of owning every book on the shelves. Airports, lunch breaks, library time (bathroom) - books are too easy.

    But then I see the Nook. It solves the problem of what you MIGHT be in the mood for once you get there. It's the digital version of multiple outfits. Can't decide? Take everything. Don't like what you have once you get there? Download something new. Now. Plus free e-books! (The actual titles don't matter, do they?)

    The more I learn, the more I love. Dual screens. Any title anywhere. Choices while you're on the go. A much lighter carry-on bag. Plus, it is a looker. I tremble.

  34. You say this, and yet I thought I read here that e-books were only 5% of Dan Brown's recent sales. It seems to me the talk and buzz about e-books and e-readers vastly outranks the number of sales. Am I wrong?

  35. Anonymous - maybe we're a biased crowd since many of us probably have some affiliation with the writing profession. Personally, I will never give up paper books completely – I love everything about them. But I will definitely get an e reader too – for the sheer convenience of always having a book with me, wherever and whenever I want it.

  36. Is That a Vook You're Screading or Are You Just Kindling?

    by Richard Curtis, literary agent, NYC

    While neuroscientists and child development specialists have been
    delving into the psychology of reading e-books and vooks (see The
    Medium Is The Screen, But The Message is Distraction), a blogger named
    Danny Bloom has occupied himself with the nomenclature.

    Plain old "reading" simply doesn't seem to cover the various acts
    necessary to experience a multimedia vook that we have to click,
    scroll, screen, watch, listen to, and - yes - read. So Bloom, who has
    been aggregating on his blog a great deal of cogent information and
    articles about e-books, has proposed the word "Screading", combining
    screening and reading.

    We buy it completely, and from now on, "Screading" it will be.

    Bloom also brought to my attention that "Kindle" is now a verb. It may
    be a while before "Nook" achieves verb status, however.


    E-books, Reading, Screading, Vooks