Nook Feedback - Reading Textbooks

by Aaron 22. December 2011 07:24

I may have mentioned once or twice, I really like my Nook. I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 not long ago. I installed the Nook app on there and use it as another reader on occasion. It's a fantastic compliment to the Nook. I'll get into that later.

Because I like the Nook so much for reading, I decided to take it a step further. I bought a technical book (textbook) to read on it. The book was "The Art of Unit Testing" by Roy Osherove. I reviewed it in my last post. My opinion of reading textbooks on the Nook wasn't as positive as my review of Mr. Osherove's book. Which, if you read my review, you're probably making a face right now. The kind of face like you just watched a video of some guy getting kicked in the nuts. That face!

Here are what I feel the pros and cons are for reading tech books on the Nook.

Pros

First of all, think of the biggest, thickest, heaviest tech book (or any kind of book for that matter) that you've read or own. If you have it handy, pick it up. try reading a page from it. If you don't have it handy, visualize it in your mind. Feel or picture the strain on your wrists. Maybe the book is so unwieldy that you have to set it down and read it on a table or desk.

Now picture reading that same book, except it's height and width are similar to a paperback. It's about 1/4" thick, and it's held easily in one hand. That's the major pro! On the Nook, a book that's wide, thick, 500 pounds, or some other undesirable attribute, is now easy to hold and read! Aching wrists and losing your place are things of the past!

Another pro, if the book is part of your Barnes & Noble library (read: you bought it from Barnes & Noble), you can read the same book on multiple devices: phone, tablet, laptop, Nook, whatever device there's an app for it. If you bought your eBook from, say, Manning for example, you don't have that page sync feature. I want to find something for that, but its not a priority yet.

Searching for keywords is another pro. It's not something that you can do easily on device though. I just tested it out on my tablet using the Android Nook app, and I got a nice listing of what chapter and page the keyword was on, and a snippet of the line that contains it. Very nice since if I'm searching for a keyword, I'm probably not going to do it from my Nook itself. I'm more likely to look for specific things while on my tablet or PC.

If you've got an eReader, or have read about them, then you're probably familiar with the other pros of using them. I'm not going to elaborate anymore on them here.

Cons

There are a couple of things that I don't really care for with reading textbooks on the Nook. After looking into it, I think they're probably just obstacles for a device like the Nook and probably the Kindle.

The first thing was the font. The font for the majority of the text is fine, but the code samples in the book I read were in a fixed width font that was really thin. It was like a really thin Courier New. It was difficult to read. I tried changing fonts without much, if any, improvement. It's not as bad in the Nook app on my tablet.

The other issue was with the code samples themselves. Most of them were fine, but there were a couple of samples that were so long they ran off the bottom of the screen. That would be fine if the sample continued on the next page, which happened with most of the samples. But a couple of them ran off the page and I'm assuming into oblivion. I'll never know how those code samples ended. I wish that I had kept track of them because I wanted to compare with the PC and Android versions to see if it was simply a device issue. I skimmed through the samples on my tablet and on the desktop to see if I could find the same kind of issue on the apps, but they appeared to be fine. I also compared the look to how the Kindle app rendered the mobi version, and while there were some differences, it rendered fine there too. So I think that it's a shortcoming of the device.

Another con is that you can't put your books on display. How are people going to know that you're smart if you can't put all of your tech books on display for them to see? Nobody's going to be able to "oh" and "ah" over your big brain made smrter by reading yor big books.

Summary

Initially I really had hoped for better. After finishing "The Art of Unit Testing", I vowed that I wasn't going to buy another tech book in eBook format! I swore that I was going to tell the world about how horrible it is to read a tech book on an eReader!

I bought two more eBooks from Manning a few days ago...

Since the initial read, I've played with the Nook apps for PC and Android. Now, I think the freely available Nook apps help overcome the pain I felt when reading on the Nook itself. And the reality is that I'm moving more toward the convenience and awesomeness of the Nook and the free Nook apps. I'm finding it harder and harder to justify having a physical book when I can carry so many books around in such a convenient package and be able to search through them easily like I would a white paper or the internet.

I'm going to continue to grow my eBook collection and eventually stop buying printed books. Though for tech books, I might use my tablet more for reading instead of the Nook itself. Unfortunately, I won't be able to show off my growing book collection, but my officemate has died or moved away (spiders hate cold weather?) and wouldn't appreciate what he was seeing anyway.

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