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First Look at nook: Not Encouraging

We (finally) received our nooks (pre-ordered quite some time ago), and the early results are … disappointing. Loading one (any) of our EPUB ebooks causes the nook to hang, and the book never opens.

Liza Daly hit the same snag as reported on the Threepress blog:

I tried loading a number of O’Reilly Media titles that are valid and work on the Sony Reader and every other ePub device. The Nook only brought up the “Formatting” message, and then hung. Only a full restart would bring it back.

This is an extremely serious problem.

Though many of our EPUB files are large (because of images), they’re definitely standards-compliant, and load just fine into Bookworm and Stanza (which is the rendering engine used for our iPhone apps). Ditto for Aldiko (the rendering engine used for our Android apps).

We were able to get one book to load after removing all of the CSS, but that’s not a viable long-term workaround. I’m disappointed to see this that after B&N watched Amazon do such a terrible job in rendering complex content on Kindle (“what are these tay-buhls of which you speak? Who would put one in a book?”).

(We’re clearly not the only ones disappointed — David Pogue even called the nook “a mess” in his review.)

Dear New York Times: I would have loved to link to David’s actual column, but it’s behind a registration wall. Which means nobody else links to it either, which is why it’s not on the first (or even the second) page of a Google search for “pogue nook”. Those registrations really worth sending so much traffic elsewhere?

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  • bowerbird

    > This is an extremely serious problem.

    amusing, isn’t it, how a simple six-word sentence
    which contains the words “extremely” and “serious”
    and “problem” can _still_ be an understatement…

    “the patient stopped breathing and expired,
    which is an extremely serious problem…”

    -bowerbird

    p.s. you know, it might well be the case that
    there are alternative formats that would be
    easier for these anemic machines to process…
    i’m just sayin’, you might wanna consider that.

    p.p.s. oh, and one more thing. perhaps it would
    have been good, over the course of the _decade_
    during which the .epub standard has developed,
    if someone woulda written some open-source code
    that would give these companies a head start…
    i know the first thing i would demand of anyone
    who was advocating an e-book format is that they
    would produce _two_ open-source versions of both
    an authoring-tool and a viewer-application, so
    end-users could be confident that the standard
    could be easily applied and couldn’t be hijacked.
    but, obviously, i know nothing about standards…

  • Liza Daly

    produce _two_ open-source versions of both
    an authoring-tool and a viewer-application, so
    end-users could be confident that the standard
    could be easily applied and couldn’t be hijacked.

    Everyone I know who works with epub agrees with this statement strongly.

  • John Sack

    I saw the bad reviews, and tried to cancel my nook three days before its ship date. While I was in the cancel form on B&N, I got an email that it had shipped!

    Well, I have to say that I haven’t had the problems others are describing with speed and formats. In fact, there are some things to like about the nook over the Kindle (I own all three Kindle versions).

    Now, I will say that B&N has done a less than excellent job with its online integration of the bookstore (where Amazon has done very well). It is great to have all those Google free books available; but it is too bad that most of the current ebooks I want I have to buy for the Kindle because they aren’t available in B&N for the nook.

    I have downloaded one epub book, and it works. It doesn’t look perfect, but is fine. (It came via Smashwords.)

    I’m hoping the problems others are reporting are things that can be fixed with a software update. We really do need more than one ebook reader out there.

    Nice: wifi support, slightly whiter screen, real page numbers, google free books, support for personal screen savers.

    Naughty: page numbers can’t be searched or gone to directly (so are useless), fewer current books, can’t email documents to nook but have to “sideload” (USB) them.

  • http://www.cabi.org David Smith

    Oh dear…

    However, I have just been reading how the Nook has already been hacked to allow a web browser, and Twitter and Facebook clients to run on it. I’m wondering whether the community out there could do a better job than B&N’s developers…

    Thinking out loud, this might be similar to what happened with the iPhone when folks started to jailbreak them… Would B&N be able to respond like Apple did and build an app ecosystem for their eReader?

  • bowerbird

    liza said:
    > Everyone I know who works with epub
    > agrees with this statement strongly.
    and yet…

    -bowerbird

  • http://pieps.org Nick Piepmeier

    I wish I’d seen this before buying my nook. My main reason for owning one was to haul around all of my technical books on one device. I seriously hope that this issue will be fixed with the next firmware update (and that that will come sooner rather than later).

  • http://changedmy.name/ Xiong Chiamiov

    From a few twitter references (mostly gone, but this one remains), it seems that updates to the nook have fixed this issue. It would be nice to know for sure, though.

  • http://www.questia.com/questialibraryplus iphone Library App

    However, I have just been reading how the Nook has already been hacked to allow a web browser, and Twitter and Facebook clients to run on it. I’m wondering whether the community out there could do a better job than B&N’s developers…

    I am just looking for such things:D

  • T

    I got a Nook a few days ago that was loaded with 1.3 firmware. I updated to 1.4 as one of the first things I did. Regardless, my oreilly books load just fine, and are readable.