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Geek love for the Nook

POSTED October 23, 2009 4:10 p.m.
I have to admit it, Journal readers. I’m in love. It all has something to do with the curve of its turn page button, I think. But perhaps I should back up a bit. I remember the day it happened quite clearly. It was a Tuesday. This Tuesday, actually. I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when a chime sounded and a breaking news story popped up in my RSS reader. Barnes and Noble had announced their new eBook reader, the story said. It was called the Nook. Oh, sweet, blessed Nook, where had you been all my life? As I perused the article and ogled the pictures, I instantly noted that the specs for Barnes and Noble’s Kindle competitor read like a geek wish list. Sporting an e-ink main display, secondary touch screen LCD for selecting books, and Android, Google’s mobile operating system, the Nook promises to do things the Kindle couldn’t dream of. Unfortunately, like most of the loves in my life, I have a feeling this one is destined to hurt me. It shouldn’t come as a shock to any of my longtime readers to hear that I’m a bit of a tech fanatic. I’m rarely seen about town without my laptop and smartphone, and my desk looks a bit like a temple to the Silicon Valley. But I pride myself on being pragmatic with my purchases. I like to think I carefully weigh the pros and cons of any new gadget before it finds its way into my house. For this reason, I’ve really not been disappointed with any of my acquisitions over the past several years. This time, however, I’m blindly, irrationally falling hard for the Nook, and I really don’t have a good reason why. Heck, if I have a spare minute at work you’ll likely find me just staring at the pre-order page for the Nook, which is set to release in late November. I suppose my unwarranted longing is probably a bit due to the sheer confluence of my interests in one device. I love to read, and I love geeky technology. So why should I not use technology to read in a more geeky fashion? When I really think about it, I can see why I probably don’t want a Nook or any eBook reader. A dead wood book will never run out of batteries at the end of a chapter. I can borrow, lend, and resell printed novels to anyone, whereas with a Nook I’d only be able to lend to or borrow from other Nook owners. Should my Nook break, I’d suddenly find my entire library unreadable except on a harsh computer screen. And, of course, spending $259 upfront just for the privilege of paying about $10 per book just seems ludicrous – though the Nook does allow free access to the 500,000 books available on Google Books. Regardless of all this I still want a Nook, though I quite frankly cannot explain why. In fact, the only true, unmitigated pro I can list is that a Nook would be handy to carry around multiple books for vacation. I tried to explain this ridiculous attraction to a female friend of mine. After a sigh, she launched into a brief anecdote. A friend of hers bought an Amazon Kindle, she said, and now receives constant attention from cute, curious, nerdy boys. They’re drawn like a moth to the, well, Kindle. There’s nothing the male English geek can do about it, she said. The eBook reader’s tractor beam is more powerful than that of a cute puppy. Coming from a woman of my age – those who seem to be universally attracted to babies and puppies – this was no mild endorsement of the eBook reader’s allure. I certainly understand the puppy love. Dogs offer unconditional love, something to care for, and an always willing snuggle buddy. Plus, they’re just so gosh darn cute. But there’s another component to the dog attraction, one of self-image. Puppy lovers, generally speaking, want to think of themselves as the sort of responsible person that could become a dog owner. And I think that, just maybe, my love affair with the Nook is all about that issue of image. After all, I am a bookish nerd. What better way to share that with the world than with a Nook in my hands? To contact Alex Cantatore with tales of how the Kindle changed your life, or to contribute to the “Pre-order Alex a Nook Fund,” e-mail acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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