Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To nook or not to nook - that is the question

I’ve wanted an e-reader since I started writing e-books. I’d been waiting for the market to shake out a little (right, fat chance) so last year while on a month long trip to the states (Hola, I live in Mexico) I dropped into a Barnes & Noble and looked at the nook. From arrival on the e-reading scene the nook has looked nice. I thought it was much neater than the Kindle (which looked a little dated first quarter of last year). So I got to do the whole touchy feely thing with a nook and had, basically, one concern. And I asked the nerdy girl with the horn rimmed glasses the big question – can I download anywhere in the world. She said sure. And I became the proud owner of a brand new nook for $150 and change. I got a cover, purchased a book, downloaded some freebees, and had a great rest of trip.

Back home in Mexico (which is, to the best of my knowledge, somewhere in this world) my nook was set aside while I finished up the stack of paperbacks on my nightstand. Then there were my own books to read on my nook (in pdf which isn’t a very pleasant experience on the nook) just so I could live the moment of reading Roscoe James on Roscoe James’ nook – a real hoot). So end of November rolled around and I was ready to use that b-day gift card my wife had picked up for me while in the states. Lucky me.

So I went out and jumped through all the hoops of on-line shopping, found three books, placed my orders, watched the old gift card shrink, and waited for delivery. And waited, then waited some more. Finally my gift card swelled and I discovered my orders were canceled. After an hour and 50 minutes waiting for customer service to get to me I’m told that their servers are down and it will be a week before I can find out what’s happening.

So let’s make a long story short. After three weeks of buying the same books, calling CS and getting the runaround, and not getting anything to read, we went on vacation for new years. When I got back and the book buying frenzy had ended, the servers were back up, and I didn’t have anything else to do but spend time on the phone, I finally got an answer.

Get this – this is rich. Yes, I can in fact download content to my nook from anyplace with a wifi connection. There’s just one little glitch. I can only purchase from inside the US and Canada. Yep. That’s right. Nook can only buy books when calling from a US or Canada ip. I even got in touch with a friend, gave him my account information, and asked him to go into my B&N account and purchase some titles. Houston, we have a problem. I had in fact visited him in July. Unfortunately it never occurred to me that I should sync my nook with his PC. Cause unless I do that he can’t get into my account.

So I shot a nasty letter off to B&N which they didn’t answer and ordered a Kindle from my home in Mexico. It arrived in 7 days missing the little charger doohickey thing-a-ma-jig. I got the sync cable but no transformer. And there was a little message saying that transformers are not sent to some countries. But… there was a little – tell us what you think e-mail address. So I wrote em and said I had already purchased a book (Nicholas Sparks), had been reading the manual, that I really liked the screen and light weight, but that I felt their no-transformer to some countries was a total fail. I sent it off into the ether not expecting to hear anything in this lifetime. Got a response in 15 minutes. They were sorry to hear I was unhappy. Please go buy one from our store, pay for it, send the order number to this link, and we’ll refund full including shipping.

And guess what? I did and they did.

Night and day. This is why Amazon will rule the world shortly and B&N will be wondering what hit them.

The Kindle still looks dated (to me) with its keyboard at the bottom. I don’t like it. Get rid of it, Amazon. Give me more screen space and don't charge me big bucks for the 9" one. But my Kindle is lighter, page turns much faster, has longer battery life, brighter screen, higher contrast, and sells books anyplace I can connect. All that and real people actually answer their customer feedback e-mails. I know because there was a misspell in the response I received.

Another important observation. The navigation keys on the nook are as stiff as my 80 year old mother's arthritis. The Kindle page turners click and press easily.

In all fairness I don't imagine people living in the states are having much trouble buying books for their nooks. But I bet if they have reason to call customer service they’re sick and tired of the *&&%^ &^$#@#^% music.

Oh, and I have a fairly unused nook with $60 dollars in gift certificates that I'll be throwing off my balcony soon.

Thanks for dropping by.