Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review of Nook Read In-Store feature

Recently I read a book, Swoon, via Barnes & Noble's Read In-Store feature on the Nook. Basically this allows you to read entire books for free while you're in the store. You only get an hour per book per day, but you can read the entire thing for free that way, and not just a sample.

In general, I found Read In-Store to be a great feature, one I plan to use regularly from now on.  There are a few drawbacks, of course — you can't change the font style or size, or use bookmarks, notes, or the table of contents.  Also, it counts each Nook screen as a page, which gives you almost double the actual pages.  However, it will remember what books you read in-store recently, and take you back to where you left off last time.

I do recommend that if you plan to buy the book, you stop reading at the end of a chapter, to make it easier to find your place in the book.  The Nook will not remember where you were if you switch from Read In-Store to a purchased copy, and since the pagination is all screwed up, you'll have a hard time finding where you left off.

Another drawback is that the Nook downloads each page from the server every time you advance one page in the book.  This means two things: 1) You are dependent on the Internet connection, and 2) The wireless on your Nook has to stay on constantly, which drains the battery much faster than usual.  I did encounter some problems with the next page not loading, but found that if I accessed the book from Shop > Recently Read In-Store > [book title] instead of getting there via Reading Now, the problem generally went away.

Despite the drawbacks, I loved using the Read In-Store feature, and plan on always reading something in the store.  It took me a couple of weeks to get through Swoon, and of course since I could only read in the store I often had to wait to see what happened next; but for books that you think you might not want to spend the money on, this is a great option.


Anonymous said...

Count your blessings! "Read in Store" works in a much-less-than-optimal way for some of us, and Barnes and Noble is either unwilling or unable to address the problems. For me, I can browse a book using RIS only once. If I have it open for an hour, or if I have it open for only a few seconds after which I turn off my NOOKc, then the book is *permanently* marked "expired". I experimented over a few weeks' time--with the collusion of the in-store B&N folks. For example, open two books for less than an hour. Return one week later and try to open the books. Both immediately pop up the "your hour is up" screen. Another example: open a book for a few seconds. Turn off my NOOKc. Turn it back on. The book is marked "expired" (forever). The problem was formally reported to B&N, but they don't seem to be very big on support. The feature has always worked badly for me, but for some people, it worked correctly for awhile before it started exhibiting the "read-once" behavior. So, if you plan to read whole books this way, you might want to practice speed-reading in case it starts happening to you! I wasn't really planning on reading entire books this way, but the thing that *really* bothers me is that B&N touts this function (and others) and they don't seem to care whether anything works correctly.

Katharine Swan said...

Hi Anonymous! I have read about this problem on the B&N boards, and it seems to be only a Nook Color problem, which is probably why you're having the problem and I'm not.

When is the last time you tried it? The most recent thread I could find about it on the Nook support boards was a month ago. They might have fixed it by now.

If they haven't, one thread offers a suggestion for a workaround. You can apparently trick the Nook Color into letting you back into a book you are reading in store:

If you're still having the problem, try the suggestion and see if it helps. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, but I tried that first. Since I had only (ever) opened two books with RIS, and I had happened to read that very post before I went back to B&N, I did first try opening the first book that I had read. Both of them came up as "expired", so the guys who think they have a workaround have just lucked out, I think. I have found variations of the problem on NOOK boards, as well as NOOK Color. I'm pretty sure the problem doesn't have anything to do with the particular device, since some people own multiple devices on a single account, and the devices all act the same (pointing to a server-side problem, rather than anything to do with individual machines). I won't lie and say that RIS played into my buy decision--I hadn't even heard of it before I bought the machine--so I can't get all huffy and say that they "baited-and-switched" me or anything. I got excited about the feature 'cause I thought it would let me search within books--especially books that I read long ago--so I'm bummed that I can open each one only once. I did get a bit paranoid at one point, thinking that B&N was actually *targeting* me personally because I *really* spend a lot of money on books and they're afraid I'll start just hanging out at the café, reading for free, instead. Then I thought, no, B&N really doesn't seem that clever!

Katharine Swan said...

Anon, I just did another search on the forums and I cannot find any reports of this problem on the original Nook. Sometimes people report different problems with the original Nook, such as the next page not loading, or problems that appear to actually be with the in-store wireless connection -- but I don't consider those issues to be a variation of the same problem. I think the problem you are describing is unique to the Nook Color.

If you've only tried it with those two books, though, I do recommend you play around with it and try to either find a workaround, or see if the problem has been fixed. All of the complaints about this problem on the Nook Color board are a month old or even older, so it wouldn't hurt to see if B&N has arrived at a solution.

Remember, in my post I observed that sometimes my Nook has difficulty loading the next page if I've gotten into the book via Reading Now. If I go into it via Shop/Recently Read In-Store, however, it loads the book and each page without a problem. You might try playing with your Nook Color to see if you can figure out a workaround for your problem, too.