Last week I revealed that after all of my huffing and puffing about how I’m against eBooks and eReaders and eVerything else along those lines, my mom actually bought me a Barnes & Noble Nook device. I was pretty blown away by her gesture, and I resolved to take full advantage of it. I enjoy the occasional gadget, even though I’m one of those people who doesn’t have the patience to get the most out of what any given little doohickey is capable of, which is probably why I have a pretty simple cell phone. Let’s just say I’m not a “gadgets for gadget’s sake” kind of guy. But as a writer, and an avid reader, I felt I owed it to myself — and to my mom’s generosity — to give this thing an honest effort and keep an open mind about it.
I took it home, busted it out of the box and got it charging. The device may be charged one of two ways, either via AC or via direct connection to a computer. The USB cable serves both functions; for AC charging the Nook comes with an adapter the USB connects to that then plugs into the wall. I thought that was kind of cool, as I’ve never seen it before. Nice and simple, really.
No real documentation, just a skimpy little Quick Start Guide that was sufficient to get me up and running. I’ve been irked ever since companies started directing people online for documentation, but I don’t see that changing. Makes sense, and probably keeps the cost down significantly (while also spawning an entire side industry of user friendly 3rd party user manuals), but I still feel the need to shake my fist at the sky every time I encounter it. Nonetheless, once I fired the sucker up I ran through the little tutorial that explains how everything works (the reading pane is not touch screen, only the little color icons at the bottom are, and they are for navigation), and I was off and running. I quickly configured the wireless and it had no problem connecting to my dlink router. This was so easy that I was able to help my mom over the phone to connect her Nook to the wireless router at their house, and it took all of about 2 minutes. As any child who has ever done telephone support for a parent knows, this is no mean feat!
Maybe 5 minutes in I was browsing the online store, and quickly made my first purchase: Savages by Don Winslow, a book I’ve heard nothing but raves about. I also scored a subscription to The Nation, a magazine I enjoy and read online, but have never subscribed to because it’s a weekly and I didn’t want to have that much paper added to the recycling already generated by a subscription (a yearly, and most welcome, gift from Julia’s dad) to The New Yorker (another great magazine also available for subscription on the Nook). This is one of those areas where I’ve thought eReaders would really shine, at least for me and my reading tastes — periodicals. Meanwhile, later that day, super author Reed Farrel Coleman posted that his first three Moe Prager novels are now available as eBooks, and the Nook is one of the supported formats. Timely announcement, Mr. Coleman! I quickly grabbed the first one, Walking the Perfect Square, and almost got all three. Christ, even as I write this I’m thinking of going back to get the other two. I can see right now where this Nook downloading-books-on-a-whim thing could be very dangerous in the hands of someone like me! Anyway, Reed is co-author of one of the best books from last year, Tower, which I’ve mentioned before. It’s been nominated for a bunch of awards too, and deservedly so!
Not that I needed to order any books to try it out, mind you. It came with samples of the novels A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff and The Passage by Justin Cronin, neither of which really interest me. However, it also came with Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and Dracula. I’ll eventually get to all three of those (I haven’t looked into it personally, but Mom tells me that a lot of classic novels can be picked up for free; that’s cool). Having books loaded was no reason to not order more, though. It was for research, after all!
So, new toy in hand, all that remained was for me to finish the book I’d already started before Mom gave me the thing (Body, by Harry Crews, in case you’re wondering), then I’d dig into some Savages.
Did I pull it off? Did I get through an entire book without feeding the Nook to Velcro the Eating Machine? Did I load anything directly onto it, like, say, Issue #4 of Crimefactory, which just so happens to be available in PDF, a Nook-supported format, and includes my March interview with Hard Case Crime founder Charles Ardai about his Gabriel Hunt books? Would I be able to change the wallpaper or screensaver? Would I even bother to try? Answers to those questions, and more, in part two!