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Guest Post: Nook Simple Touch Review

This is a guest review by ISU student Joe Mayer.

So after years of holding out on picking up an e-reader, I finally caved in and bought a Nook Simple Touch last December. Honestly this was one of the best hundred dollars I’ve ever spent; in fact, I think it’s so awesome that I wanted to write about it. Let me first make it clear that I do not intend for this to be a “which product is better” article comparing the Nook to the Kindle, because there are already enough posts like that on the internet.

I have been reading books on a regular basis since I was about five years old. I don’t read nearly as much as some people, but a good deal more than others. You could say that I am probably in the upper-middle class of those who read. After starting college back in 2008, I essentially stopped reading books for pleasure and started reading books exclusively for my classes. It isn’t that I stopped enjoying books, but I just didn’t have the desire to read anymore. This might be because I was tired of the headaches that frequently came with reading for too long. It could be that I just didn’t have any more time in my cramped college life for any books that weren’t related to my major. Either way, I basically quit reading for fun my freshman year.

Three things in the past year really got me thinking about reading more books for my own personal pleasure:  new Wheel of Time books, A Song of Fire and Ice, and Imajica. After reading through Towers of Midnight, A Game of Thrones, and Imajica, I realized I wanted to keep going, but I really needed something else, something fresh to add a spark to my reading life. That something was the Nook Simple Touch.

Nook (image courtesy of Flickr user Wesley Fryer)

The reasons why I settled on the Nook instead of the Kindle are fairly simple:

  1. My roommate has one, and as such I could test it and play with it all I wanted before I bought one.
  2. The Nook has a microSD slot. While this might not be that important for most people, I really liked the idea of removable storage that is completely open to whatever I may want to use it for. This allows me the opportunity read books on my Nook that I already had on my computer through what we will call ‘alternate’ means. This is awesome because it means I’m not mandatorily linked to the company’s online book system.
  3. I like the touch screen features on the Nook. Having a touchscreen allows a very aesthetically appealing design, but also allows the user to interact much more smoothly (in my opinion) than physical keypads can. Also worthy of note are the side buttons, which were an absolutely major selling point for me. The Kindle Touch doesn’t have physical page turning buttons. While the touchscreen is great for user input, I really do not like the touchscreen for repetitive page turning.

So I decided on the Nook. Now what? After I hooked it up, put some books on it, and started reading, I found out how much I really loved it. The interface is really easy to use. I have no doubt that if I were to give this thing to my completely technophobe mom she would be able to figure out how to use without too many problems.

Where the Nook really shines, though, is in the problems it addresses for me while I am reading. For anyone who has ever read a brand new hardcopy book such as any of the Wheel of Time series, you can probably appreciate the difficulty that comes with reading such massive tomes. The Nook Simple Touch weighs in at less than 7.5 oz, which is slightly less than half a pound. These large hardbound books, on the other hand, can weigh right around two and a half pounds. Two less pounds to hold for hours while reading; that is super awesome.

The next issue addressed is the tiny font commonly seen in those pesky thick, but small, paperback books. Atlas Shrugged is one that comes to mind. One of my absolute favorite things about the Nook is that it gives me the ability to choose the font size, line spacing, page margins, and any of six different fonts. With all of these variables under my control, I’ve found my absolute ideal text display for reading. That, combined with the brilliantly easy-on-the-eyes e-ink screen, enables me to read for hours without a headache or eyesore. I seriously have never enjoyed reading a book as much as I have while reading on my Nook.

With all this use it’s getting, I would have thought the battery would tell me where to get off (as my phone does every day), but the battery really holds a charge very well. It kept going through a month of hard use. The touchscreen on the Nook Simple Touch is really very responsive and precise. I don’t really care for typing with touchscreens, which is one reason my phone has a keyboard, but I really don’t mind using the keyboard on this screen. I have never had a problem with text input.

With all these great features surely there is nothing wrong with the Nook Simple Touch, right? Well there is one thing about the Nook that I find really, really irritating. That feature is the Bookshelf system. The Bookshelf is supposed to be a way to organize your books into ‘shelves’ to organize your books in your own way. I wanted to make a shelf for each series of books I have, a shelf for my top favorites, a shelf for suggestions from people, and other things of that nature. This will never happen. Creating a shelf is easy enough, but adding books to that shelf is nothing less than a nightmare. The method of adding books to a shelf is so difficult that I cannot bring myself to ever attempt it again. The system wouldn’t be so bad for only 20 or 30 books, but anyone with more than a handful of books is going to despise the Bookshelf system. I apologize to the makers of the Nook if I am just misinformed about how to use this system and simply missing some great shortcut, but as of now I think this is by far the worst thing the Nook Simple Touch has to offer.

To all those who are really on the fence about getting an e-reader I seriously suggest getting the Nook Simple Touch. I was one of those people who thought that actually having a physical book to read might be better in some regards, but I was totally blown away by my experience with the Nook and will probably never enjoy reading physical books nearly as much as I enjoy reading on my Nook.