Audiobooks and the nook

I’ve been listening to the Suite Scarlett audiobook on my rides back and forth to work (review forthcoming).

On Audiobooks:

  • I like listening to audiobooks! This was my first one. I don’t know why I haven’t been listening to audiobooks before (Oh.. .maybe because my car only has a CD player and I have no idea where my Ipod is).
  • I can get into the story pretty well, but  think my concentration on the story isn’t as good when I get it aurally versus visually.  Maybe it’s because I don’t re-listen to a passage the way I reread passages. A problem when you’re driving and can’t rewind.
  • The other problem I have is that the narrator really makes or breaks a story. Their inflections and emphasis can change the interpretation, especially when a character is speaking. I would have imagined how certain characters spoke differently. It also felt odd to have a female narrator do male voices. Why don’t they just bring in a male narrator for those parts? Do they? Since I’ve only listened to the one, I don’t know if what’s normal and what’s not.

On Audiobooks & the Nook:

  • It’s very easy to put the audiobook into the nook. This audiobook is an MP3 CD and what I basically did was copy over the files from the CD onto the “my audiobooks” folder in the nook via my computer and the USB cable. I haven’t bought an audiobook from B&N yet so I don’t know how different that would be.
  • The sound is much better in the car when you have headphones on, but it’s illegal to do this while driving. I tried this when my husband was driving and found it pretty good,  as long as someone does not have the radio going at the same time.
  • The sound is pretty good – not tinny like my netbook speakers, and the volume is a decent level. The nook has a good volume when you are indoors, but if you are driving, it should be at the highest level or it will be drowned out by the sound of the road. Even then it’s hard to hear. I also have to have it pretty close to me (like on my lap) to hear it. My husband isn’t a fan of this if I’m driving, so now it’s in the bin between the 2 front seats with the speakers pointed towards me (in other words. the nook is upside down).
  • NEVER turn on the nook or do any adjusting while driving! I always do this parked and then when everything is playing at the volume I want from the point I want, I drive.
  • I would be happier if I had some mini speakers or something that used the headphone jack from the nook and was a louder volume that what I can get from it, just for the car. I’ve been eying these $20 mini passive speakers from Sony, but I’ve been told they probably won’t be louder than the ones on the nook, so I’m looking for some speakers that can plug into the car’s AC socket.
  • If I listen to the nook in the morning, then turn it on later in the day, it has saved my spot in the audiobook. I love this. However, if I am checking something else out in the nook or I wait long enough so the nook is truly powered off, it does NOT save my spot and I have to search for it. This would be a pain if I had a bad memory of what chapter I was on (so far I am pretty good about remembering what around what Chapter I was on).
  • If I listen to audiobooks on the nook, the nook plays them and sort of goes into a standby state. So I have to hit the power button to be able to use it’s touchscreen again and pause the audiobook. This seems to save battery and I’ve listened to the audiobook for 4-5 hour stretches without recharging the nook.

Other nook related news:

First impressions of the B&N nook

My birthday was last week, and because I’ve been hinting heavily since December, my husband got me a nook. I also got this t-shirt.

So far I’m really happy with it.

Opening the nook packaging:
OK – this was the hardest part of setting up the nook. There’s a cardboard slipcover over a clear plastic box housing the nook and it was EXTREMELY difficult to get off. Two people were needed to take that slipcover off, and I was about to KILL my husband for putting it back on afterwards. Then once the slipcover was off there were 5 steps in actually getting the nook out of it’s plastic case. It looked very pretty and everything, but 5 steps? Kind of ridiculous.

I really do like the design though. Reminds me of Apple’s products with the white, glossy nook and it’s white, soft rubber-covered USB cord which can be attached to a computer or to a plug for an outlet. Very 2010. The packaging of all the accessories also reflects that.

Navigating the nook:
There are very little instructions that come with the nook. The nook itself has a “Nook tour” and “Nook User Guide” which is in the “My Library” section of the main menu (it’s under My Documents). This is probably so B&N can update it along with a software update, which I thought was a good idea but it assumes you can figure out where the “Nook tour” is.

So far these are the menu choices when you are at the main menu:
1) The daily – software updates plus subscriptions to barnes and noble feeds
2) My library – your ebooks. I only uploaded 5 ebooks so far. They’re all under “My Documents” since I copied them onto the nook via the USB, not by buying them through B&N. So I don’t see their covers on the touch screen or on the “view MY B&N library”
3) Shop – takes you to the B&N bookstore
4) Reading now – takes you to the last page of the last ebook you had open. Love this.
5) Games – now chess and sudoku (I’m so addicted to the sudoku, even though I suck at it and can only do the easy)
6) Wi-fi – use to set up your wi-fi and turn airplane mode on and off
7) Audio – mp3s & I’m guessing audiobooks (I will let you know how this one goes).
8 ) Web (beta) – lets you surf the web (more on that below)
9) Settings – add contacts, edit your profile, register your nook, select wallpapers/screensavers, clock settings, wi-fi

Software Updates:

Back in March (I think), I went to play with a display nook and talked to a Barnes and Noble employee about the device.  She had told me that certain features like reading books in the store and page refreshing would be better in the “newer version” that was coming out in end of April or early May. According to her, the displays were showing these updates but the nooks you bought at the time didn’t have these features yet. Turns out she didn’t mean that there was a new edition of the nook hardware, but a update in the software (if I had known that I may have bought it earlier and just waited). By the time I got my nook last week it had one update to install which I did right away, and so I was pretty pleased with what the nook could do.  Also – I’m rather impressed that the B&N employee was aware of this update back in March.

Book binge did a review on the updates here

Protecting the nook
After playing around with the ereader I really got kind of irritated about all the little fingerprints I could see on the touchscreen window, and I wasn’t happy with the smudges on it’s back from holding it up either. So after a DAY I was in B&N buying an Industriell cover. It was $30 and is one of the cheaper covers, but I like it because it’s just plain black and it’s designed so the nook just clips into it (very securely) via a clip on the top and bottom, and it leaves plenty of room for me to charge the nook or put ebooks into it without having to take the nook out of it’s cover. I wasn’t fond of the covers that meant slipping the nook in and out of it to get to it or the covers secured on by straps. I am too paranoid to have a cover only secured by straps.

I also bought protective film for the nook which was another $15 (the Nook Matte Screen Film kit). This was very easy to put on and I had no bubbles although I kept getting cat hairs in there *shakes fist at cat* which were easy to get out. The most annoying thing was placing it so it was straight since there’s about a millimeter of room between the film and the edges of the nook. The protective film for the touchscreen was much smaller and didn’t cover all of the bottom panel, only the touch sensitive window. I wish it did cover everything. For $15 freaking dollars for what is essentially two stickers, it should.

I really think most people would want at least the cover so I would say mentally add $30 to $150 dollars to the price of the nook depending on what cover you get (designer ones cost upto $125, the cheap ones are $30) and whether you also add the protective film. There are also covers made by online retailers like JavOedge and Boxwave.

Customizing the nook
Yes I was all into this. It’s very easy to do. When you hook up the nook to your computer via USB, the nook shows up as a new drive (for me it’s E), and you see folders to copy things into

  • Wallpapers – just copy your 600×760 image to the “my wallpapers” folder. This is my favorite (sci-fi theme!)
  • Screensavers – just copy your 600×800 images to the “my screensavers” folder. A collection of images can be in it’s own folder. I downloaded Alice in Wonderland and Domo!

Nice sources for wallpapers/screensavers: nooklook & flickr

Downloading ebooks to the nook from the computer
For moving from your computer to the nook it’s like the wallpapers/screensavers. It’s as easy as copying your stuff into the “my documents” folder. I was able to copy my .PDFs and .epub files fine. It did not like .BBeB. I stumbled when I tried to open my .PDFs that were Adobe Digital Edition. For some reason I kept getting an error when I tried to read the books that were ADE, which is the case when they are from Netgalley. Apparently I was supposed to get the nook authorized first. So I opened ADE on my computer and selected the Library dropdown, and there was nothing about authorizing my nook there. ADE was just not seeing my nook.

Fix – delete the .adobe-digital-editions folder on your nook. Eject the nook drive (right click on nook(E:) and Eject), plug the nook back in, then start ADE. After that it automatically detected my nook and authorized it.

Reading on the nook vs. my netbook
I find it so much easier to read on the nook over reading on a netbook. Staring at a lit screen vs staring at something like paper is very different when you have a migraine. I get migraines often. The only issue I had when I was headachey and trying to read my nook was that it’s frame is glossy and reflected the light of my sidetable lamp next to me, which bugged me a bit. Shifting so it wouldn’t reflect helped but then the nook’s display was more in shadow. If you aren’t prone to migraines or light sensitivity I guess this is just a big ol’ nit.

The netbook is light and portable but the nook is even more so. When I have the power set to Airline Mode, the wireless is turned off and the battery lasts for several days. I have to charge my netbook in a matter of around 2 hours.  I was also able to put it up when I was on my treadmill (which I can’t do with my netbook) and played sudoku while I walked (running and sudoku? Couldn’t get my fingers to press the touchscreen at the right place – it was driving me crazy). I’m sure reading would be easier while running if increased my fontsize – I don’t have to deal with the touchscreen after that, since the nook has page turn buttons on it’s sides.

Just for this I copied an MP3 to the “my music” folder on the nook. You can listen to music via the Audio menu, or you can be reading an ebook, and select the “open audio player” option. The sound is pretty nice, and there’s volume control and shuffle options. I actually think the sound is better than my netbook which has a tinny sound (annoying).

Lending Books
So far I have only put books that I got elsewhere (not from B&N) onto the nook, and it doesn’t look like I can lend any of them. The lending feature is simply not there when I look at each book. I believe if I bought a book from B&N I’ll see the lending feature show up. According to the B&N employee I talked to I can lend my ebooks to someone who doesn’t have a nook as long as they have an email address. There’s a “Contacts” option under the “Settings” menu that allows me to put in names of contacts and their email address. I assume this is for lending. Editing the contacts is easy too.

I love the idea of lending but I’m not happy to hear that you can only lend a book to someone for 2 weeks and after that you can’t lend that book (I don’t know if it’s ever or to that particular person) again. WTF! I hope this improves because it doesn’t make the lending option that great in my opinion.

Reading books in the store
This is something rather new and came with the latest update. When I bought my nook cover I brought my nook to B&N to try it out. The wireless recognizes the store and puts a tiny B&N icon on the top of my nook display. When I’m in the daily I see coupons for nook owners in there. There was a coupon for a free dessert from the B&N cafe that I jumped on, but there were others as well. For the next month there are free ebooks available for nook owners to download.

When I go to the “shop” menu, there’s an option under each book to read the book while I’m in the store (“read in store” option only shows up in B&N). I tried to take a look at The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson but while I could read an excerpt, when I tried to look at the whole book, I got an error!!! So that looks like a feature that still needs ironing out. I didn’t feel like trying other books.

Wireless & surfing the web
Pretty straightforward to understand how to do, but still not quite there. Pages don’t fit fully on the screen, and it’s a pain scrolling up and down and sideways to see everything or to zoom out to see the whole thing. Also clicking on links is really difficult and page loading isn’t fast. So it’s not going to replace my laptop anytime, although I do like having the option.