So, is Anyone Watching “Under the Dome” on CBS?

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As many of you likely already know, CBS began broadcasting a television adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Under the Dome, a couple weeks ago. I’ve read a lot of Stephen King over the years and, while this particular book wasn’t among my favorites (I originally posted about it here, in Bibliophilopolis’s infancy), thought it might have great potential for small- or big-screen treatment. Although I was impressed and excited to learn that Breaking Bad veteran, Dean Norris, was cast to play Big Jim Rennie, so far I’ve been a little disappointed in the series – but I’m not anywhere close to abandoning ship yet! Besides, the book is somewhat “special” to me for other reasons…

(below: actor Dean Norris as “Big Jim” Rennie.  Norris’s most famous role – as a DEA agent in Breaking Bad – has a great literary tie in: the mid-season cliffhanger for Season 5 of that series involves him doing some, er, <ahem> “bathroom reading” of Walt Whitman(!) and making an important discovery…)

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“The First”

There is doubtless a magical quality about something that is a “first.” Think about it. Everyone remembers their first car, their first job, their first date, first kiss, first… well, we could go on and on. While I don’t remember my first book (I don’t count educational “readers” like “On Cherry Street”), I do remember my first eBook. It was in February 2010 that I finally took the plunge and bought an e-reader, opting for Barnes & Noble’s “Nook” product. I still have it, but do almost all of my e-reading on my iPad or iPhone now (via the Nook app, though). Anyway, I was having coffee with a friend one Saturday morning and as a fellow reader, she was interested in seeing my brand new Nook and “what it could do.”

I remember showing her how to navigate to the “store” where one could purchase items from B&N. I think she asked something like, “…and how soon do you get it after you order it?” My reply was, “I think almost immediately,” then, being the inveterate wise guy that I am, I said, “Lets find out!” So I ordered “Under the Dome” which was still a pretty recent release that I had been eyeing for a couple weeks. She (and I) were both kind of amazed at the ease of this transaction. “So you can read it right now?”
“Yep.”
Secretly, though, I was still a little worried about reading on an e-reader vs. reading a “real” book. I had already planned, though, to make my first e-read a book of this nature. Nothing too deep that I would want to be highlighting and underlining passages in, etc. This process was painstaking and time consuming on the Nook anyway. My friend, who was then doing some seasonal tax preparation work hadn’t planned on staying long that morning was about to leave:
“So, are you going to read that now?”
“Yep. Well, not the whole thing, obviously.” – but as the Lazy Daze Coffee House does have splendidly comfortable “real” furniture, I thought there wasn’t likely to be a better way to spend the next hour or so than slowly sinking into the cushions as I knocked out fifty pages or so of this new novel – and my first e-book!

I remember being pleasantly surprised at how quickly I forget the fact that I was using an e-reader. I made it up to about page 75 as I recall and finished the book a couple weeks later. So, I’ll always remember this book as my first experience with an e-reader. What about you? Do you remember your first eBook? Your first book? Audio book? Are YOU watching Under the Dome on CBS? Do share… 🙂

(Below: a first-generation Nook reader – similar to mine)

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(Below: here’s a blast from the past:  this was the “Ginn Reader” book that I started learning to read with – “On Cherry Street”)

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Nook “user group” meeting

(written 10/6/10, 5:45pm)
I’m sitting here at Barnes and Noble where there will allegedly be a kind of a Nook user group meeting. I’ve been told they have them the first and third Wednesday of each month. I want to learn more about sharing books since a coworker of mine now has a Nook too, and we have a few candidates in our libraries for which we’d like to test this process out.

I’m also a little curious about synchronizing my various readers I.e., I now have my actual Nook, the Nook app on my iPhone – which I barely use – and my Nook app on my iPad – which I use more than anything now. The big question for me is: if I highlighted passages and made notes on the iPad app (where it is soooo easy), do those get synchronized when I log in to B&N.com so that if I later open the books on my actual nook, will I still get to see my highlights and notes(?)

I’m going to pause here and continue later since it’s almost the appointed time…

(written 10/8/10 7:15am)
Well, I did end up speaking with one of the in-store experts for awhile. I was the only one there at the scheduled start time (although another user did show up about 6:15 just as I was running out of the questions I had wanted to ask). The expert was also an iPad owner and, like me, did most of his nook reading via the Nook app for the iPhone, so that was convenient.

Re: Sharing (lending) e-books:
You can still only lend a book only one time. I asked if he saw that rule ever changing in the future and he was non-committal but offered “it’s possible” but there were no current plans to change that. Once offered to lend, the fellow Nook user you lend it to had seven days to “accept” it. Once they accept it, it transfers to their account for a period of two weeks. During this time it will not show up in the “my library” screen of the Nook/Nook app. I still haven’t tried this yet, but probably will in the next few weeks. I will report back my success or failure on this front. Note: not all the books one buys via the Nook are “lendable” either. E.g., maybe 30% or so of my e-library is.

Re synchronizing highlights & notes: the answers here were disappointing but not surprising. When I download a purchased book to my iPad, that is a separate copy and is not synchronized with the “master copy” of the book on my B&N account. Like many, I have a fear of losing data at some point – though not quite the paranoia of some others in this regard. But my iPad is backed up on my home computer, and maybe someday the b&n account will let you save the highlights there as well.

Re one other item that I haven’t mentioned before: To “turn the pages” while reading the Nook, one “clicks” or presses the side panel of the device. Well, after reading a few thousand pages on my Nook, these side panels began to develop thin cracks where this “pressing” takes place. (I should also mention that it is possible to turn pages by “swiping” the small touch screen from right to left, but it seems easier to me to just click the side of the device) Anyway, he said this was a “known problem” and that if I contact Nook support they will replace my device. This is good to know. And I should say that it still works fine, it’s just that its appearance is slightly marred by these little cracks on the side.

Any other Nook users out there that have experienced this problem?

Below: the Nook reader (no, those are not my hands in the picture 🙂 ) and the Nook app for iPad:

New thoughts on e-reading & e-readers…

There is an interesting article on Bloomberg.com today about e-readers in general and the Kindle specifically.  (Funny, the nook ® reader from Barnes and Noble – which I hitched my wagon to back in February – is not mentioned by name at all.)

I have to admit it’s pretty tempting just to buy one of the new, “cheap” (at $139) Kindles to add to my arsenal of readers, which currently includes my Nook ®, my iPhone, and my iPad – the latter two of which have apps that will also reader B&N and AMazon content.

I have also been dabbling in reading via the iBooks app on my (relatively) new iPad the past couple weeks.  I have to say it’s a pretty easy reading experience.  I don’t feel like ‘reading with a flashlight shining in my eye’ as Amazon’s boss (and iPad detractor) says, but I also haven’t read for long sittings on my iPad.  You can adjust the brightness of the screen for reading at bedtime, and you can also ‘freeze’ the iPad’s automatic rotation of the screen if its accelerometer senses the device is tilted beyond a certain threshhold.  The ease of note-making and highlighting and bookmarking on the iPad is quite appealing too.  A couple things I don’t like are (1) it is significantly heavier than the nook ®, and (2) the ‘cheesy’ highlight appearance to make it look like a real highlighter has been swiped on the page – it shows a ‘rough’ edge – to make it look more like real highlighting I guess.

I still like my nook ® and have read thousands of pages on it since I bought it in February.  It’s light, and small enough I can slide it into some pockets – depending on what I’m wearing.  It’s my favorite reading method if I’m slouching down into an easy chair in my favorite coffeehouse.

I’ve heard that the Sony e-Reader allows you to check out electronic copies of books from the library.  I haven’t looked into this possibility too much with mine yet, or researched if it’s available in other readers as well.  Does ‘anybody out there’ have any expertise on this issue?

I welcome any comments on your experiences with e-reading and e-readers.

Book Club forum at Barnes & Noble

A funny thing happened to me on the way to inquire about my nook® at Barnes and Noble last night…

I wanted to show them a problem with a book I downloaded (Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox – my book club’s May selection), where the nook copy has many chapters that are in ALL CAPS.  Can you believe that? How frustrating to be reading along and run into that.   They tried downloading the same book to their demo model and noted the same problem.  One guy says, “I’ll go get the book of the shelf here and see if it’s like that too.” (!!)  I told him “I’ll bet you a shiny nickel it isn’t…”   (It wasn’t; this was the same guy who kept ‘pushing’ on my touch screen to select options instead of just touching/tapping.  It’s a touch screen, buddy! I wanted to yell…).  They are going to look into the problem, and call me back.  They mentioned something about downloads being ‘non-refundable’ which, if they stick to that and don’t offer me a store credit or something, there will be “a problem.” 🙂  I mentioned that I “kind of need a resolution soon as I need a readable copy for my book club meeting next week.” 

At that point, one of them says, “Oh, are you here for the book club forum?”  I said, “The what what?”  Apparently, totally by random, I was in the store about 35 minutes before some meeting on how to form, run, pick books, and hold meetings for a book club.  I said that I guess I’d better stay to represent my book club and maybe learn something.  Anyway, they had free tea and cookies(!) for this meeting and there were about 16 or 17 of us who showed up.  The age range was probably from around 35 to 75.  I was one of only two men in the group.  (This is about the same ratio I see among people who blog about books and reading).

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