Tag Archives: Nook

Reading Habits

eReaders are already on the decline, even as eBook sales continue to rise. Two factors are largely in play on this: expense of a dedicated eReader to cheaper Android tablets, and people keeping their eReaders for longer.

The cheapest Kindle is $69, but to get a touchscreen you need to spend $119 (up from the $100 I paid for my Kindle Touch two years ago). The cheapest Nook is $79 and actually seems to be better in most substantive ways than the new Nook GlowLight (especially since the GlowLight does not have an expansion SD slot and the Simple Touch does*).

For $10 more you can get a Nook HD, or a cheap 7″ Android tablet (my Polaroid, which admittedly is not the best tablet ever, was $60).

And eReaders do less now than they used to. Amazon has cut the storage space in half (emphasizing their cloud storage), as well as eliminating MP3 playback and text-to-speech. The original Nook could pay games and music but the Simple Touch does neither (nor does it have a web-browser like the Kindle).

In short eReaders are crappier than they used to be, and the better ones cost almost as much as tablets, which people seem to want to buy more anyway, since they can DO so much more.

That said, I think eReaders are better for reading, perhaps more now than ever, because of their dedicated nature.

I started with a Fire and dabbled in a couple of eBooks, but realistically finished none. Then I got a Touch about seven months later and am reading a book or two a month. (Okay, maybe not the best for showing off on Goodreads, but way better than I had been doing). eReaders are easier on the eyes, and more importantly, don’t tempt me with things to take me away from reading. The Fire was great for magazines, and short reading jaunts, but the sit around for hours readers are my two Touches (Kindle and Nook).

I wish eReader manufacturers would make them cheaper, and as full featured as some generations have been. My current eReader, the Kindle Touch, is the most full featured book experience, with text-to-speech allowing me to turn any book into an audio book, and letting me play music while I read, while at the same time keeping me largely focused on the reading. Touch screens feel the most to me like turning pages, but the combination of buttons and swiping on the Nook Simple Touch is also very flexible.

Dedicated eReaders are more of luxury if we’re being honest. Since most people want to play games, surf the web, and maybe get some work done on a tablet, an eReader does little to add to those experiences. Most of us probably don’t have, or don’t want to spend money on both.

But for me anyway, reading on an eReader is the most like reading on a book a tablet can get. There are some imperfections in the way the Nook Simple Touch renders the eInk that feel almost like the variations some printed books have. Even the best tablets can have some glare, especially in the sun, and as someone who stares at screens all the time a change can be nice.

How about you? Do you read on a tablet or an eReader, or do you still crave the analog experience? Do you feel distracted by tablets, or does it all feel a little cold and technical?

*Yes, the processor on the GlowLight is slightly better, there are a few more pixels, and there’s a built-in book light, but the Simple Touch refreshes quickly, can be expanded to 8 times the storage capacity of the GlowLight, and is $40 bucks cheaper.


Filed under Books + Publishing, Trube On Tech

10 Formatting Tips for the Nook (EPUB)

Well, in the span of a week or so I now have two Nooks, a Nook Simple Touch (the current generation cheapest Nook), and a first generation Nook, generously donated by a friend at church. Even though I’ve spent a considerable amount of time formatting the MOBI (Kindle) version of the fractal book, the Nook presented some unique challenges which required different solutions. Below are my initial findings:

1. Use a different file: The Nook version is a little different than the Kindle version of an eBook, particularly one like mine with graphics, figures and equations. For a text eBook you may be able to get away with a single Word file, but in my case you need two, one for your MOBI draft, and one for your EPUB.

2. Size is everything: The Nook, especially the Nook android app, is not always the best at resizing graphics. On the Kindle, if an image is 8″ wide, beyond the physical extents of the device, it is auto-shrunk and centered. This is not the case with the Nook. Above 5″ or so you run the risk of the edges of your picture being cut off (more than 6″ on the eReader Nook).

3. Simplify Math: Probably the worst place where the Nook cuts off graphics is equations. The equation editor in Word produces a graphic file for each equation (usually PNG). Since the equation is not treated as a graphic in Word, however, it is not easy to adjust its width and the edge of the equation can be cut off if it’s too long. Reducing the font or changing from display to inline can both help, but the solution I’ve found best is to shorten words. Instead of maximum use max, instead of number use num, iteration is iter, etc. Creating a multi-line equation may help in some circumstances as well. The eReader version of the Nook is better (but not perfect) at handling this problem.

4. Eliminate Transparency: And while we’re on the subject, equations will be unreadable in the first place because of the transparency in PNG. The Kindle format (MOBI) handles transparency without difficulty (at least the newer generation Touch, Fire and app do). On the Nook it’s a different story. The first time I converted directly to EPUB from the “web page filtered” file all of my equations were black rectangles. The simplest solution I found was to first convert the book to MOBI, then convert this MOBI file to EPUB. The conversion process to MOBI must eliminate transparency so the EPUB doesn’t encounter it. (This is using Calibre).

5. Header in the right direction: The older generation Nooks (and possibly Kindles) do not have the same range of fonts as newer eReaders. In particular headers or section titles that were bold and a little larger do not render correctly. This can affect the flow of pages. No specific fix, just something to be aware of.

6. Spell out fractions: The EPUB format does not seem to recognize fraction characters like ½. Invalid characters are replaced with a rectangle. My suggestion is to spell fractions out, for example one-half or (1/2).

7. PDF behavior: PDFs can often be a great solution for solving some of the inconsistencies of an eBook format, but a PDF does not look the same on every eReader. The Kindle auto-centers each page, vertically and horizontally. This can be annoying if a page has only a single paragraph though you can eliminate vertical centering by adding page numbers at the bottom of each page. On the Nook PDFs are left oriented, meaning there is often a lot of white space on the right hand side. A possible solution is a PDF sized specifically for the Nook, using pages that match its dimensions.

8. A Page is not a page: My book is 430 or so pages on the Nook, 500ish in Word, and 300ish on the Kindle. Don’t sweat the page numbers too much, they’ll never match.

9. Use Helevetica Nueue as your font: Pretty self explanatory. This gives the most consistent look across all generations of the Nook and Kindle. Some apps may not support this, but they’ll support something similar. Your Word Doc doesn’t need to be in this font, so long as your reader is set to it. Many computers may not actually have this font installed (and its not free).

10. Webpage links may not work: The Nook Simple touch does not have a web browser so none of my URLs work in the eBook for getting to reference websites and software. Make sure to spell out URLs so your readers can type them, or possibly make them available on your blog or website.

That’s all for now, may have more later.


Filed under Books + Publishing, Writing

Another DTD

For those who were not aware, “Dead Trube Day” is a reference to the online comic Megatokyo, specifically the days where the author was unable to complete a regularly scheduled comic. There is no need for concern (some of you seemed worried). You can see the first “Dead Piro Day” here.

Some quick updates on publishing matters relating to previous posts:

  • Paulo Coelho who we discussed here has decided to sell a dozen of his titles on Amazon at the discounted price of 99 cents. The effort seems similar to digital music pricing which attempts to encourage people to buy at a smaller fair price rather than steal. Some of his titles sound pretty interesting so get them while you can I guess!
  • I’ll try to find out more about this one, but apparently Target will no longer be selling the Kindle due to “conflict of interest“. There’s speculation that this might mean a Target Tablet or another partnership. Be interesting to see how it shakes out.
  • And finally here’s a link on the Nook’s ridiculous campaign that it is “better in bed” than the Kindle. The Fire glows in the dark too, and even with the brightness set all the way down, and the text set to white on black, my wife cannot sleep unless I turn the thing off. The Nook or the Fire are only good in bed if you want to sleep alone!

Off to meetings. See you tomorrow.

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Filed under Round-Ups