Barnes & Noble eReader for Mac – My Thoughts

So I downloaded the free Barnes & Nobel eReader 1.0 this morning, to check it out. I’m on a Mac and was glad to see that B&N rolled out versions of the readers for iPhone, Blackberry, PC and Mac all at the same time. That’s a good move.

The first thing I tried to do was open some pdf’s, mobi, epub and prc files…

I had created earlier for use on my phone and Sony Reader, but the B&N app wouldn’t open them. The B&N reader uses the Palm Database (.pdb) format. So you can use Calibre or Stanza Desktop (both free) to convert any document you want into a .pdb file and then open on the B&N Reader. I converted five different files and documents to .pdb and had no issues.

The B&N app is a free download and opens with a view of the user manual. Via a browser, you can log-in to your B&N user account and you’ll see that they have placed some free books in there for you. All are public domain, plus a Merriam Webster’s Dictionary. Just click to download and read on your computer. I downloaded the Dracula book and flipped through it. The B&N app has a great internal linking set-up. Finding your way from the index to the page, to your notes and back to the index is great. Even easier than the Kindle’s system. So reference reading is going to be easier here, plus you can view books in spreads, rather than a page at the time.

One thing I did notice, though haven’t tried yet, is the way Barnes & Noble is dealing with the DRM issue. If you download a locked book to your machine, it can be read on the Reader, but you have to enter the purchaser’s credit card number “as they key” to unlock the book. I’m surprised they didn’t come up with another system, but such is the DRM world.

One fun thing they added was the ability to create eReader themes. This is nice in that sometimes you want to adjust brightness, colors and contrast if you are reading a lot on screen. It helps ease eye strain if you can adjust as needed, but Barnes & Noble went one step further in allowing users to share their custom themes with friends and other users. Not sure if publishers can ‘brand’ these themes yet, but they have to be moving in that direction.

With Barnes & Noble releasing their own eReader yet-to-be-named Plastic Logic device, in early 2010, to compete directly with Amzon’s Kindle, this is a platform to watch.

In my mind, the winner will be:

  1. The first that makes it easiest to flip between pages and reference material in a book.
  2. The first to nail syncing. It’s great that I can read the same book on my iPhone, Kindle and desktop. But I want each device to ‘know’ where I was, so that I don’t have to hunt around for my spot. Since there are no true “page numbers” it’s hard to find your last spot, if you’re reading on multiple devices.

2 thoughts on “Barnes & Noble eReader for Mac – My Thoughts”

  1. Very good review! I have been a proponent of eBooks for a long time. I have a Sony Reader and I love the feel of it but I hate the purchasing and DRM experience.

    The two biggest problem right now is the DRM and price. First I am not even saying that DRM should be stripped completely, just make it no worse than the inherit “DRM” of owning a book. An example of this is loaning and borrowing books.One of the great things about owning physical books is the ability to borrow and lend. Let me “loan” my eBook to a friend and block me from reading at the same time, just like in the real world. Sycning process as transparent as throwing my paperback into my backpack. Don’t make me type in a Credit Card number or my weight in kilograms on the moon.

    The second point is price. It is crazy that most eBook retailers charge nearly the same price as their printed counterpart when the cost of production is MUCH lower. They are going to have to get the price of the books and readers down in order to be accepted mainstream.

    Sorry for the long comment.

  2. Thanks for your review.

    It seems that we have some exicting stuff coming our way with the three top candidates. (Kindle, Sony Daily, BN device)

    However, I think a true winner in the eBook device space will emerge when one of these vendors sits down to consider the most common practical as well as economical facts around the purchase and usage of a book in todays world.
    Certain things HAVE to be addressed for a device to truly be considered for main-stream adoption.

    A few points(although certainly not a complete list)yet to be addressed:

    1: Solid personal library management. People expect to add the books they buy to a library for re-use years later. I spend about $200 on technology books every month. I’m not going to download a $50 book onto a device, unless I have a solid system to manage that library and ensure my purchase isn’t lost in a transient vendor specific system.

    2: They life cycle and usage of a book.
    You buy a book, loan it to your friend, put it on your book shelf, then donate it or sell it to a used book store 2 years later.
    I for one like to give my used books to charitable causes where people can benefit from the education the book provides. None of the DRM implementations on the market today adequately address these concerns. Untill they do, eBook formats will always have a perceived lower value then their paperback counterparts, and end users will not be willing to pay full price for an eBook that is limited in usage.

    3: Who really pays for books.
    From an economic standpoint, the bulk of book purchases are made by businesses and students.
    A few examples: 1) A law firm spends $15K on a law code reference library from LexisNexis, then $750 on updates twice a year. The law firm should have its own electronic library that each of the 25 attorneys can check the books out from and maintain annotations that are shared with the group. 2) A corporate IT department spends $10K per year on educational books for its employees – needs to account for and maintain he “library”, and make it freely available for employees to use without violating any intelectual property laws. 3) A college student spends $250 per semester on new books, they really should be able to mark them up on multiple devices, loan them to their buddies, then exchange them at a discount in a book marketplace.

    When topic such as these are considered, the eBook and devices that support them will morph from being another cool gadget, to being a part of the lives of every working and studying individual.
    The market at that point could grow exponentially at a rate we are not yet able to calculate.

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