"The World's Most Advanced E-Book Reader"

by The Barking Unicorn

"The World's Most Advanced E-Book Reader"

That's what Barnes & Noble says it's selling. I idly tried it at their downtown store today.

"Press button at top ↑ to open book" its screen read when I picked it up.

"There is no button above this arrow," I told the lad behind the counter.

"It's on the back, a little ways down," he replied. A millimeter-thin silver BAR, not a button. Not at the top.

I pressed several times. Screen flickered; "press button..." reappeared each time.

Lad came around counter to help. It did the same for him.

"Maybe the battery's worn down," he muttered. "Just keep pressing."

Finally, "opening the book..." appeared, and remained long enough to be read ten times.

The sign said the reader has a touchscreen, so I touched "My Library" on the screen. Nothing happened.

"That's not it," said the lad. "You have to use the little screen underneath."

There are no words on this device. "Like my iPod," said the lad. But iPods are made for listeners, not for readers. I couldn't get a damned thing done without the lad's instructions.

Finally, parts of a book appeared.

Sentences, with two-letter cryptographs like "ay" and "az" between them.


Double spaced.


I pressed a cryptograph and nothing happened.

"What are those things?" I asked the lad.

"I don't know, unless someone added notes."

I thanked him, handed the thing back, and strolled downstairs.

There, I saw another sign proclaiming, "The World's Most Advanced E-Book Reader." Thinking it might be there instead, I sauntered over to the counter and waited until I was noticed by another, bearded lad.

"Can I answer any questions, sir?" he asked.

"Yes. What makes it the world's most advanced e-book reader, please?"

"Well, it's the newest."

"I'd like to try it, please."

"Sure! Just go upstairs and there's one on the customer service desk you can try."

"I just came from there. It did not work."

"What do you mean?"

"I could not read an e-book on it."

"Well, there should be someone up there who can help you."

All around us were throngs of people who needed no help to read books.

"Someone was up there. He couldn't get it to work, either."

"Well, that's a demo unit... been up there for three months of heavy use."

"So, after three months of reading, this $259 thing stops working?"

"No, it gets a lot of handling! You wouldn't believe what I see people do to that thing.

"Kids go like this on it..." pounds palm with fist. "I've seen people stab it with pens."

"Sounds as if people don't like it very much," I remarked.

"No! They're just trying to get it to work!"

I had more remarks to make, but the security guard who'd been standing nearby squinted at me. So I just muttered, "Namaste'" to the lad's beard and left under my own power.

People standing in the line behind me were smiling. One seemed to be choking on something.

"The world's most advanced e-book reader" is a piece of douchebaggage that will be on Liquidators.com before Christmas.


The Barking Unicorn is a Denver-based blogger. His site, of course, is http://BarkingUnicorn.com.

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I'd just like to say, I love, love my nook. Like an earlier poster arthritis has made it difficult for me to hold books. Never base your decisions on the basis of one persons opinion.

I found one of these that actually worked, but I wouldn't buy one. Hard-to-read text, only a small amount of text on a page, and what happens if it getts broken, dropped, left on a train, or has coffee spilt over it? Do all those things with a real book and it can be replaced or just wiped down.

Do it with a E-book and it's a lot of money gone for a burton.

These things will be the DCC of the 2000s!

I love my Nook, it goes everywhere with me inside my purse and has saved my sanity in lines at the bank and the DMV! It also makes it possible for me to have a bible, a dictionary, a cookbook and a reference book for work on hand at all times. I have always had great customer service at B&N (my case also split at the button - but it was replaced immediately at the Henderson store.)

As for people who have difficulty using the Nook - how did you ever learn to use a computer? This little machine is *EASY* to use, and it even has an internal demo that the instructions tell you to read. Oh, you didn't read the instructions that came in the box? Maybe that's part of the problem....


The author of this entry notes he tried to get the store clerk to show it to him, but they weren't interested. There was no "box" with "instructions", but a (supposedly) trained person on hand whose job it was to demonstrate the device. They failed. Oh well. -rc

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