Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nooks, Books, and Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble can't seem to keep from shooting itself in the foot. The latest news is that they'll be closing hundreds of stores over the next few years and the nook business is tanking. Year over years sales of both nook devices and books are lower.

This makes me sad.

I've always loved book stores and libraries. I love to browse, pick up new books, read the back cover copy, maybe sample a few pages. But, like many people, I now read more ebooks than paper. On my nook.

I have a nook 1st edition with the e-ink screen for reading and the little color touch screen at the bottom. It has worked well for me, but it is aging. I think about getting an ereader with a lighted screen for reading in bed, although I rarely read in bed any more.

Part of me wants a color device so I can read magazines and newspapers on it. And maybe watch movies. I wonder if reading on one will cause eyestrain, though. I'm not a casual reader. I laugh at the battery life statistics as quoted for ereaders. Ten days or two weeks or a month between charges--with the disclaimer that this is based on a half hour of reading a day. At a half hour, I'm just getting started on a reading session.

Barnes and Noble sent me another email today urging me to renew my B&N membership. They miss me. I let my membership expire at the end of last year. I had one for years and, when I was buying mostly paper books both online and at the store, the investment was certainly worth it. There was a member discount on the price of books and free shipping for those purchased online. Two years in a row when I renewed my membership, I told them they should offer a discount of some sort for ebooks, but they've never done that.

And what are they offering me as an incentive to renew? Twenty-five dollars off a nook tablet or ten dollars off an e-ink nook. While that might have been enticing in prior years, given the state of Barnes and Noble, I'm leery of tying myself to their proprietary device

I wonder if I'd get my full dollar value with a membership renewal today. I remember how quickly Borders shut its doors.

Amazon, with their Prime membership, offers the Kindle Owners Lending Library, which allows you to read one book per month free. That's a real incentive to join Amazon Prime, even if it is $79 a year as opposed to $25. Kindles aren't very expensive and it's tempting to give in and switch to Amazon.

But I'm reluctant to put all my eggs in one basket with one book vendor again. For a similar reason, I doubt that I'll go with Kobo, even though they seem to be the up-and-comer with a drive to challenge Amazon.

Which brings me to my real problem with ebooks. Why should I need to buy a specific device to read books I buy? I don't have a different television for each network I watch. I don't have a different radio for each station I listen to. (Although there did exist such animals in the past.) I buy a television or radio and consume content from multiple channels on it. If CBS goes bankrupt and stops broadcasting, I don't lose my investment in my television. And, when XYZ starts broadcasting, I don't have to buy a new television to watch it.

My sister has an iPad she reads on. My daughter-in-law does most of her reading on her iPhone. I started reading ebooks on my iPod Touch before I bought my nook. The screen on that is too small for me for lengthy reading sessions. The iPad is larger than I'd like and I worry about it being too heavy to hold. I've looked at various brands of Android tablets, but none of them excites me. I've become an Apple fan-girl and gotten very used to the interface.

Which brings me to the iPad Mini. It's close to the size of an e-ink ereader. It has color. It runs iPad apps and, since I already use an iPhone daily, I'd have familiarity with the interface. Currently, all the ebook vendors offer apps for reading their books on it. However, there is the price. Like all Apple products, it costs more than the competition. But I've found that I like what I get for that price. I've also heard rumors that a second generation iPad Mini is in the works with, possibly, a retina display, and other features its big brother iPad has that the Mini does not.

So I sit here, still reading on my 1st generation nook, procrastinating on making a decision. But I am hesitating a lot longer over the Buy button on www.bn.com. Do I really want to buy any more books from a source that may cease to exist within a year? I've already got a lot of DRM-locked books on my nook. Do I want more that I'll have to deal with if I buy a different device? I can't think that I'm the only customer with these concerns. Which can't be helping sales at Barnes and Noble at all.

Photo Attributions:
 
Nook: By http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Eno (original:Ajai Khattri) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Kindle: {{Information |Description={{de| Ein Kindle 4 - Im Browser die deutsche Wikipedia-Website }} {{en| a Kindle 4, showing the German Wikipedia website }} |Source=photo was taken by my self |Date=2011-10-15 |Author=CrazyD }} == [[Commons:Copy
iPad: By Matthew Downey (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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