Yep, I’ve got a Nook.  I actually got it late December, about a week earlier than I was expecting after placing a pre-order around Thanksgiving.  I’ve talked about the Nook on this blog before, but I haven’t had a chance to really get into detail on it, and I thought I would now.

For part one of this little series, I thought I’d focus on the core functionality of the device: reading books.  In later parts, I’ll discuss other usages and my experiences.

So, how is it at reading books?  The short of it: it’s very good, though not quite perfect.  If you’ve never used an eInk display, then you need to give it a serious try.  Whether it’s the Kindle or the Sony reader, the display technology is the same.  And it’s great for long periods of reading.  Since getting the nook, I’ve spent quite a few hours using it to read (just yesterday I spent the good part of the day reading Ghost Wars by Steve Coll, which I highly recommend).

Comparing an eInk display to a computer screen or the iPhone is like comparing apples to oranges.  The eInk technology is specifically designed for reading books, and it allows you to look at the screen for hours at a time without any problem.  If reading text on your computer screen or mobile device causes problems, then eInk is your solution.

That being said, the underlying parts of the Nook at what makes the difference, and unfortunately the device has a few rough edges:

Missing text in a chapter
At this point, I’ve read three books, several newspapers, and a handful of samples on my Nook and in all but one case it has been flawless.  However, just the other day, while reading a chapter of Ghost wars, a section was cutoff:

The very last page of Chapter 16 had the following paragraph:

Robin Raphel and others at the State Department and the White House believed that for American oil companies, too, the Taliban could be an important part of a new Afghan solution.

On the iPhone and the Barnes and Noble reader for the Mac, this paragraph came through fine.  However, on my Nook, only the first line of the paragraph was displayed:

Robin Raphel and others at the State Department and the

Flipping the page brought me to the first page of chapter 17!  Flipping back didn’t show the remaining text either!  Luckily I was able to find the remainder on my iPhone, but that’s very frustrating.  I suspect it’s something with the formatting (the Nook lets you change the size and font of the text being displayed) and perhaps a bug made the device think the entire paragraph was being displayed when it wasn’t.

Though this only happened in this one place, it makes me slightly distrustful of the device.

No synchronization between devices
One of the features I was particularly excited about with the Nook was the ability to synchronize my page between devices.  I have an iPhone, a desktop Mac, and my Nook, and I’d love to be able to pick up in a book wherever I happen to be.

It’s been very confusing on the Barnes and Noble help forums but to the best I can ascertain, this feature doesn’t actually exist yet (though it may be part of a future software update).  If anyone does know how to enable it, however, I’d love to hear it.

Reading newspapers can be tricky
A lot of people have been griping about reading newspapers on the Nook.  I’ve purchased several copies of the Wall Street Journal (which, by the way, at $0.99 an issue is a perfect price, in my opinion) and I understand their complaint, though I’m just not as upset about it as others.

On the Nook, reading a newspaper is like reading a book: it’s treated as a sequential page-by-page tome with hyperlinks to other sections.  So, for instance, page 1 is the front page of the paper, with short excerpts and links to the full story.  Page 1 of another section may not start until page 300 in the actual eBook.

This kind of navigation makes it a little slow to get through a paper, especially if your the kind of person who loves to just skim headlines and flip pages.  But if you like to read full stories, then it shouldn’t be too bothersome.

It would be excellent to have a better page navigation for newspapers, but I can live with it for the time being.

Wrap Up
In general, reading on the Nook is very enjoyable.  I enjoy the ability to pick it up and start reading very quickly.  Flipping pages is fast enough (some people say it’s slower than the Kindle, but it doesn’t bother me).  Using the Nook, I’m able to sit for hours at a time and read a book without any problems.

In later parts I’ll talk about content availability, battery life, the case I got, and other details.