iBraryGuy’s eReader Poll – Have your say!

The bad news just keeps piling up for that venerable, big-box purveyor of print – Barnes & Noble.  We have been hearing for quite some time about the chain’s falling sales and revenue figures.  Now, the news is reporting on layoffs and funding cuts to its Nook eReader division.  Et tu, dear Nook? Continue reading “iBraryGuy’s eReader Poll – Have your say!”

Open for Business! Google’s New eBookstore Delights & Disappoints

Google today opened the latest chapter in the great story on the battle of the eBook stores.  Established eBook retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are taking note, as Google’s salvo is no small warning shot.  With a massive library, multi-device support, and a series of interesting partnerships, the search giant has launched a full assault on the market.  The new Google eBookstore offers some hot new features, but also has some interesting drawbacks.

First, the game changers . . .

The new Google eBookstore has launched with an impressive catalog of over 3 million titles available for download.  Everyting from classics to modern best-sellers is housed in an easy to search and navigate site.  The interface is sleek and pleasing to the eye!  Purchases are stored on shareable “shelves” in Google’s cloud and are tied to your Google ID.  If you use the Google Web Reader from a PC, netbook, laptop or tablet to access your books, you will actually be reading in the cloud as well.  No matter how many times  you change devices, use the Web Reader and Google will always know exactly where you left off.  Free Web Reader apps are being released for iOS and Android devices as well.

For those wishing to use their own devices, Google’s eBooks are compatible with many of the popular brands available.  The Sony eReader and Barnes & Noble Nook, for example, can take advantage of the available PDF and EPUB formats.  These actually allow you to download the books and store them on your device directly.

Finally, Google’s eBookstore is launching with some rather impressive partnerships.  Indie booksellers  Powell’s, Alibris and participating members of the American Booksellers Association have signed on to sell Google eBooks in their own right.  Loyal customers of these stores are able to buy the eBooks on their sites and still store and access them from Google shelves.  There is hope for the independent bookseller yet!

Now the drawbacks . . .

The launch of the Google eBookstore has come with a few technical challenges for some and at least one glaring omission for others.  First, the omission . . .  Kindle users, your device is not yet supported.  Google is hoping to bring the most popular of the eReaders on board soon, but no timetable has been set.  The picture is certainly much rosier for users of other devices, like the B&N Nook or Sony eReader for example.  However, even there extra are needed.  Users of those devices cannot simply purchase and download Google eBooks on the fly via wi-fi or 3G.  They have to download and install the latest Adobe Editions software on a home computer first.  The eBooks must then be d0wnloaded through the Adobe software and “moved” to the device.  Though potentially easy enough, we suspect it will be a bit of an annoyance to many.  Will it be enough of an annoyance to keep them away from Google’s shop?  Time will tell.

A Big Day for Books

Whether you believe the pros outweigh the cons, one thing that is certain is that today is a big day for books and book lovers.  Google’s books initiatives, at times controversial, has been running for a number of years now and has made great headway in making books more accessible.  The 3 million titles in the eBookstore are but a fifth of what Google actually has digitized.  As more and more of its books become available to online and portable e-readers, Google is certain to become a major player in the eBook market.  Competition can be a very good thing!

B&N’s Nook makes Nice: Our Review

CNN Money today ranked the Nook from Barnes & Noble tops in a match up against Amazon's Kindle and Sony's eReader.  Having tested a few of these ourselves, the iBraryGuy team chose the Nook for home use.  After a month and a half of use, we are ready to report on our own experiences with B&N's flagship eReader.  We agree with CNN, for the money, the Nook is hard to beat!
Usability:  Because the Nook is essentially "all screen", it may be a little intimidating at first . . . albeit, very aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  However, learning to use it takes little time.  There is something to be said for the sleek interface that is devoid of excess plastic and awkward buttons.  The touch pad is easy to use, is fairly responsive to even a light touch, and adds a nice splash of color to the otherwise monochrome e-ink screen.  The unit itself is light to carry and comfortable for either right-handed of left-handed use (or both!).
Connectivity:  We have been making the most of both the 3G and wifi capabilities of our nook.  From downloading novels on the fly to having our daily newspaper delivered each morning, we have had VERY little connectivity issues.  Books download fairly quickly.  Having B&N's extensive catalog at your fingertips is a sweet feature to say the least.  Added to that is the fact the Nook supports EPUB format and the tons of free books that utilize it. Taking your Nook into a B&N store to see the special in-store-only promos is also fun.
Functionality:  We enjoy reading on our Nook.  The e-ink is easy on the eyes and the graphics are not too bad.  For more detailed graphic abilities, we'd go to a computer anyway.  We are not too keen on the finger-swipe method for advancing pages as it still seems a bit clunky to us.  Besides, the page buttons are convenient and easy to use.  Why smudge up the screen flipping pages?  Highlighting and bookmarking definitely need to improve.  Thus far, this has been a short-coming for all the eReaders on the market.  B&N has already improved these features since we got our Nook . . . but they have a ways to go before they can replicate what you can do with actual books!  The dictionary function also seemed a bit limited.  However, we have not had much need for it.
Support:  Barnes & Noble is still playing catch-up when it comes to filling orders.  This has been their main focus.  We are thus not shy to say that customer service and communication could use some improvement.  Still, in B&N's defense, they are ramping up their game.  We got our Nook right before Christmas.  Since then, there have already been two software updates that have improved the Nook's functionality.  This is what we like to see.  Solid updates and constant innovation.  B&N needs to bring the same customer service for which its stores and online are known to its eReader experience.  We are confident they will. We must also not forgot to mention that loads of cool Nook accessories are already making their way to the market.
All in all, our Nook is definitely one of our favorite purchases of 2009.  We have been delighted with it and have no plans to put it up for auction when the new Apple iPad drops this year.  Not that we don't want an iPad . . . but rather because we know a good thing when we've got it.  There is a lot that is good about Barnes & Noble's Nook.