About 2 weeks ago, I purchased my first legit mobile electronic device. I'm not counting digital cameras (I have 3) or my laptop, which as a 17" widescreen thang with lousy battery life I don't find all that mobile. The new gadget is the Nook Color. I call it la tabletita, because I can use it to check email and internet things like a few blogs, twitter for work, and facebook for myself and work, but I can't actually work on it like a real tablet.
I went with the Nook because:
1. The Kindle is butt ugly, and I hate the blink-black-to-white page turning effect; for me, that happens about five times/minute and it's awful.
2. iPads are stupidly expensive (plus, the name is still awful); I could have picked up between 2 and 4 Nooks for the same price as one iPad. The pad (seriously? pad has been forgiven?) is a little bigger and a little prettier, and lord knows there are one billion more apps to purchase for now, but I didn't buy the damn thing for apps. I bought it to read on mainly, plus to stay a bit more connected to the series of tubes.
So, I love the Nook for reading. Flexible screen choices for text/background color/brightness, comfy size and weight, occasional handy uses of the connected dictionary (although it'd be nice if said dictionary was better at Olde Timey English). And I'm getting happier with it for non-book things--the mobile OS just seems kind of lame, and I had some trouble with the internet at first, and I'm still not that great at the little tap-tap touchscreen thing. The big surprise is how it's already changing my reading and purchasing habits.
I am a dedicated liberry user. Since I read a couple hundred books every year, buying them all would set me back at least $4k/year, and that's with lowballing the average cover price, knowing I'd get at least a few used, and some others would be the cheapie little paperbacks. While I buy a handful of new titles from my nearest new/used shop down the street, and pop into Elliott Bay when I'm on the hill, most of my actual book purchases have been from Amazon for years now, with Powell's a solid second place. I haven't purchased a book from Barnes & Noble since Harry Potter book 6. Now, in the last 2 weeks, I've blown the $300 or so on the Nook/cover/anti-glare screens, plus I've picked up 3 book purchases--2 new novels, and a 25-title document of public domain stuff I like--Wharton/Austen/Thackeray/Wolfe/Dumas. (The last purchase was a whopping $2).
Last week, I also spent about 4 hours figuring out how to download books from the liberry. Let me label the process unwieldy. The Seattle liberry pawns off ebooks to a company called Overdrive. Overdrive files use Adobe Digital Editions, which I had to install on my laptop. Through Overdrive, SPL offers about 30,000 fiction titles, all of which appear to have a limited number of copies, so more popular works have waiting lists even longer than paper books; I think the reason for this is that Overdrive makes a point about how you don't have to "return" the book--it'll just disappear from your file in 3 weeks! So ebook checkout is a week longer than paper books, plus I would expect that very few copies get "returned" early. I found four titles that I was at least willing to read, and checked them out--which I can't do directly from the SPL site. Then I had to click around a bit to get the files sorted out in ADE, then connect the Nook to the laptop and transfer the books. The Nook turned out to have been preloaded with ADE, which isn't noted in the instructions it came with, so I had an instant messaging session and a phone call with Nook tech support to sort that shit out--the two versions of the program wouldn't/couldn't talk to each other. The liberry system is all functional now, but it's not very compelling to pursue because of the how the catalog functions work, and the limited number of files.
The bigger problem: I am coming to very rapidly prefer reading on the Nook to reading a paper book. (No bookmarks, plus the weight of a paperback with the sturdiness of a hardcover, plus the screen/text changes keep my eyes a little happier.) But the most common way for me to pick up books is this: I browse the tables and stacks at my nearest branch. Because Columbia City is such a demographic oddity for Seattle (omg: brown people!) the new book selection slants towards writers from Africa and Asia, and towards US immigrant authors. I discover so many authors I've never heard of, and wouldn't know how to find browsing a bookstore. I love the casual judging-books-by-covers aspect, but most of these books aren't available in digital form yet, at least not through the liberry. So my new reading options become: shelling out that $4k/year to buy the books I want from Barnes & Noble, or keeping the price down by reading stuff I'm less interested in, but is available from the liberry as an ebook.
What would really solve the problem, of course, is for digital rights management to sort itself out, and for ebooks to never have waiting lists at liberries, and so on.