Buying an ereader
#77 Henry, Sunday, 01 August 2010 5:21 PM (Category: Books)
(Tags: ereader nook)

I really did want an ereader, and the biggest reason was to load my technical library into one so I can carry it around and maybe get rid of the paper versions.

I have access to iPad, Kindle and Nook. The iPad is way out of my price range right now. I started doing research on the Kindle and the Nook.

If I wanted to read current novels only, I would buy the Kindle and get access to Amazon's library. They have a much wider selection of novels than Barnes & Noble. But Kindle isn't perfect. I've been reading the Simon Scarrow Eagle series. B&N have 3 of them, Amazon have 6 of them. What about the other 8 books that he's written that aren't available? Not good.

But I don't want to just read current novels. I want to move my technical library to an ereader and carry it round. Kindle doesn't support that very well with formats. PDFs have to be mailed to some address, then they get converted to the Kindle format and then they are available. The Nook lets you put PDFs straight on the device and read them without conversion. So the Nook looks promising.

I took some PDFs, and I converted some CHMs to PDF, put them on a Micro SD card and went into Barnes & Noble to see how they would look. It doesn't work that way. The Micro SD card is used to extend memory, but they couldn't get it to see files on it. You have to do something more formal called "sideloading" and then it will see the files. By this stage I had done enough reading and had pretty much made up my mind that the Nook would be better suited to what I wanted to do. So I bought one. I bought the Wi-Fi Nook for $149.

Took it home, charged it, installed the Micro SD card, and then loaded on the PDFs and converted CHMs. Ugh. That's pretty ugly. I did a lot more reading and discovered EPUB. And then I discovered a wonderful program called Calibre.

My first attempt was to load it onto Linux. So many dependencies, so many failures. I tried the Mac version and it worked. Oh lordy, did it work. I tested it with books in all sorts of format. PDF, CHM, LIT, TXT, RTF, and it took each one, converted to EPUB and did a very nice job of it. And it let me set the meta data and include covers. Calibre is a really, really nice system for converting books to put on your Nook. It will do it for a wide range of ereaders, not just the Nook. It's nice.

So finally, I got to load text books and reference books onto my Nook and read them. The EPUB format works much better than PDF. Much, much better. But overall, using the Nook for reading technical books... I don't think it works very well. To jump between books, to move within a book, there's a lot of really slow clicking. It's far faster to pull a paper book out, flick to roughly the right place and then zero in on the topic. Paper sure beats the Nook. I wonder if the iPad, with the extra size, would be any better?

However, I tried some novels and they work very well. When you are reading a novel, and you are moving steadily in one direction, the Nook is really, really nice. It's a very good ereader. I transferred a bunch of novels in, and starting reading them. It's good. I would recommend it for that, without question. But my primary purpose of reading technical books? Not so good. It's possible, but it's awkward. And some diagrams and code fragments get chopped off and you can never see them.

I think that I will use Calibre to convert my technical library to PDF format, and read it on the various computers. I might have to find a better reader than Acrobat Reader, something that doesn't that spiral my CPU to infinity whenever it feels like it.

But I'll definitely use the Nook for a lot of things. It isn't a wasted purchase. I am going to get an ereader for Anne soon. When that time comes, I'll compare the size of Amazon's ebook library to Barnes & Noble's ebook library. That will determine what Anne gets.

The Nook