Thursday, December 10, 2009

nook: Does Barnes & Noble Hate It's Customers?

That's my take on the title of one blog post I read today. I also came across Mashable's compilation of nook reviews. I left nook uncapitalized because apparently that's how Barnes & Noble left it. 'sposed to be more informal that way yo.

I believe I could be getting an eBook reader for Christmas (or for that unmentionable solstice cultural observance for you socially autistic people who freak at the mention of Christmas). The question is, which one? Kindle has been around the longest. nook is the new one. I'm not considering Sony for several reasons, like the root kit debacle a few years ago. I just don't feel like Sony likes it's customers. Sony likes money. Everybody likes money, but Sony doesn't hide it as well. Anyway, Sony is out of my consideration at this point. That leaves me the Kindle and nook. For the record, I don't believe Amazon or Barnes & Noble gives off a vibe of hating customers. I personally like both businesses. Amazon makes it cheap and easy to buy books. Barnes & Nobles makes it comfortable. I still remember the days when you'd get yelled at in bookstores for opening a book and trying to get a feel for what's in it. "Either buy the book or leave!" you'd be told. There's none of that at Barnes & Noble. It's very comfortable and pressure free to browse around. You can sit on a couch and read a book, with coffee. I've taken refuge at the Deptford Barnes & Noble many times when Christina needed to shop in places I didn't want to go.

Back to the point: I have Kindle and Barnes & Noble's reader on my iPhone. About the only reason I want a reader is the ability to read some pdf ebooks I pick up. I'll basically download any eBook that's free, but then I never have time to read them. They're not always easy to get onto the iPhone. If I had a Kindle or nook, I could convert them easier to read on the go.

If I ask for the Kindle, I could possibly get it in time for Christmas. If I ask for nook, I won't see it until mid-January or later because it's seriously backordered.

I'm less worried about software glitches and shortcomings. Those can be fixed by the company if it chooses. nook apparently has some glitches, but those could be solved by a software update. Kindle doesn't support the ePub format, which again could be fixed with a software update.

When I look at reviews of the devices, I try to take that into account. If a reviewer says "Don't buy nook because it's buggy", realize that a software update can easily fix the problem, so it might not BE a problem by February. Of course, it's also possible but less likely that the software problems will never be fixed. I suspect they will be. Although it would be nice to see devices released with perfect software, it's getting less likely by the day. We seem to live in a perpetual beta culture. What I mean by that is software is often released to the public in a state that seems unready. Sometimes this refers to software that runs on a specific device like an iPhone or Kindle, and other times it deals with larger operating systems like Windows or software suites like Microsoft Office.

In some cases, I think there is a strong "rush to market" mentality, and the product has to be on the market before it can be ready. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, schedules do slip. Unforeseen events pop up, and you're left with a ship date that's harder to make than when you wrote the schedule two years ago.

In other cases, I think it's simpler. Companies can only do so much testing "in house". There is no way Barnes & Noble can conceive of every possible use for nook, and so glitches and shortcomings often pop up when users get their hands on it.

Which one should I ask for? Kindle or nook?

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