For months I’ve seen eReaders come and go on the tech blogs. I usually pass it off as another techy gadget that looks cool, but would have little use for in my daily routine. The basic gadget as an electronic storage and display device for text has been around in various forms for years. None of the products released thus far has done anything to pique my passing curiosity. Initially this latest entry into the mix did little to rouse my interest either. But a couple of things look promising.
The nook is the latest attempt by a retailer to get the tech savvy to read books in a digital format. Amazon has the popular Kindle reader. Sony and others have similar devices and have seen mixed reviews and limited success no doubt due in part to their lack of content distribution. It appears the perception is that people will flock to a reader like they did with MP3 players once Apple released the iPod. I’m not sure that is going to happen, but as these devices improve in form and function I think they could convince me to buy one.
Using the compare page for the nook, and yes I know it is bias, there are a few things that standout for me that could make me a believer. The nook supports direct loading/viewing of PDF files. This is interesting to me. I hate to read documents on my laptop(s) and when editing lengthy docs I end up with several printed copies that I scribble all over. Having a reader might actually save some paper, but more importantly digitally document what I need to edit. The kicker would when others are reviewing/editing your document. If they have a way to sync their comments back to you then you wouldn’t have to decipher their chicken scratch. Or how about those cryptic emails that tell you where to make edits but aren’t specific enough.
Here is where I start to get a little nerdy. Sharing books. B&N are using, get ready for this, LendMe™ technology. This is a promising feature that allows you to “lend” a book 1 time to 1 user. The Consumerist details the shortcomings of this methodology and I’m sure B&N are going to hear it from consumers when they figure out how lame this is. The reason this excites me is that people are going to yell and scream about this or not buy the product. The solution could be libraries. How great would it be to run up to the library and “borrow” a book for two weeks. Could this be a player in the library world? Perhaps if “LendMe” were extended to other devices then it might be work.
The other thing that gets me excited is the ability to share the content among different devices, including notes and annotations. This means you can make notes while reading a PDF on the plane using the nook and when you are ready to mess with the content again you fire up the laptop and it’s off to the races. That rounds out the good. But there is more to the story.