Friday, October 30, 2009

The Nook - Why I'm Going to Pass

When it comes to buying e-books, there's a larger issue than device that turns me off. It's the concept of DRM. DRM basically says that I don't own the books on my terms. I own the books on another person's terms and thus can't do with them as I please. That's a simplistic summary of my feelings on DRM so that I can put it aside and talk about why I'm passing on the Nook.

I WANT an E-Reader. Badly. I want something I can carry all my book on while traveling, something I can proof my manuscripts on, something I can take notes on. The Kindle was an awkward first step but so limited as to be unusable to me. When the Nook was announced, I was excited. Very. To the point that I started reading everything I could about it. My primary concern (after DRM) is an inability to share books. I think I've discussed this in a post about the Kindle. The nook advertised an ability to do just that. Loan an e-book out to one person at a time for 14 days. In my opinion, that's a reasonable trade.

But within a couple of days I learned that B&N couldn't reach agreements with most publishers to allow books to be shared, so the sharing capability is so severely crippled as to be useless. But that's not why I'm passing.

I'm passing because the Nook has made it clear that the e-book market is simply too immature to adopt into. book sellers are tossing out products left and right, trying to make something appealing and mostly failing. Publishers are being resistant by meddling with pricing and staggering the electronic releases and the physical releases. Both of which leaves readers in a dark space between the two. Why buy a product that imposes limits on the way you currently do things? Until I can do with an e-book, everything I do with a book, then I'm staying out of the game.

Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon. Publishers are acting the same way record companies did when music went digital. Instead of embracing the technology and finding ways to make it profitable AND fun, they sued everyone on the planet and put up roadblocks in the way of anyone who tried to make digital music work.

Dear Publishers, say this with me: CUSTOMERS ARE NOT THE ENEMY. Say it every day when you wake up, every night before you sleep, at every board meeting. Because that's the key. If you make it easier for your customers to get your product and stop putting draconian limitations on those products, you'll see things begin to look up. Look at the iPod. The reason Apple dominates the music download market is because they made getting and listening to music DEAD SIMPLE.

Right. So that's why I'm passing on the Nook. But kudos to B&N for inching closer to the mark. Unfortunately, "almost as good as a book," simply isn't good enough.

UPDATE: For a different opinion, take a look at Shannon's blog Daily Pie (which is almost as awesome as real pie by the way).


  1. The website says "most" ebooks can be lent for 14 days -- I'll be interested to see what "most" means. I like the nook partly because I can read on it the .pdb-format ebooks I already own.

    Since I just wrote about this last night, I updated that post with a link this post. Good to have a lot of opinions.

  2. I heard the nook doesn't support .doc documents. Am I wrong about that? The main reason I want an e-reader is for critiquing manuscripts.

  3. Great post! I feel the same way. I'm not going to buy an ereader until they sort all this out. I'd also like one that opens/looks like a book and that I can write on.

  4. Shan: Link back back at ya! I forget where I read it (Gizmodo maybe) that said B&N tried to secure loads of rights for their share feature but that a lot of publishers backed out at the last minute. Which stinks, because when I first read about it, I was psyched!

    B.J.: You're correct. No .doc docs. PDF only. The plus is that, unlike the Kindle, it supports PDF's natively which means no awkward emailing them to your Kindle acct. Just load 'em up and go.

    Annie: I'm with you on that. What you're describing (and I'm hoping for) is more like a computer. An iPhone-ish device with at a Kindle/Nook size.


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