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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/13083/the-nook-an-excellent-learning-tool-for-the-classic-loving-misesian/

The Nook: An Excellent Learning Tool for the Classic-Loving Misesian

June 26, 2010 by

The Road to Serfdom on the Nook

Earlier this week I enjoined readers to take advantage of recent price cuts to pick up a Barnes and Noble Nook or Amazon Kindle in order to partake of the Mises Institute’s vast eBook library and to enrich one’s learning experience while perhaps taking Thomas DiLorenzo’s online Mises Academy course The Road to Serfdom: Despotism, Then and Now.

Well I took my own advice and picked up a Nook.

The most important advantage of the Nook over the Kindle to me is its native support for the ePub format. Mostly I read public domain classics in western letters as well as Austrian and proto-Austrian works. There is an abundance of the former available in ePub at Project Gutenberg as well as other sites, and an ever-growing stock the latter available here in the Mises.org Literature section.

Now this is my biggest gripe about the Nook.

While there is a search function and a “coverflow” feature for the Nook’s library of books that are downloaded from the Barnes and Noble web site (the “My B&N Library”), there are no such functions for the books you get from other sources (which are stored in the “My Documents” section of the Nook). You have to manually flip through pages listing all your books each time you want to switch from one book to another. This is a big pain in the neck for anybody who wants to stock their Nook with hundreds (or even just dozens) of books from other sources. I’m dealing with this restriction by getting as many free classics as possible from the B&N store (just search for what you want and then sort by price to find all the free stuff) and by carefully organizing all my non-B&N PDFs and ePubs in a folder on my computer, loading only the handful of books that I’m most interested in at the time on my Nook, and periodically changing that mix according to my evolving interests. Having to do this with files consisting mostly of text, on a gadget that can hold 2 Gigabytes, for want of a simple search function, is frankly ridiculous; hopefully Barnes and Noble will fix this in a software update soon.

In spite of that major complaint, I’m really enjoying my Nook. I used to read a lot with Stanza on my iPhone. As can be expected, reading “e-ink” on a 6″ diagonal display is a lot more pleasant than reading pixels on a 3.5″ diagonal backlit screen. Reflected light FTW! And Stanza doesn’t support PDF, so having a Nook enormously widens my reading choices: for example, Mises.org’s ePub library is impressive, but its PDF library is prodigious. And while sifting through non-B&N eBooks is a pain, adding and removing them using your computer via a USB cable is a wonderfully simple drag-and-drop process, which is not true for eBooks on an iPhone.

And say you’re reading Human Action on your Nook and you want to know what “lucubration” (one of Mises’ favored words) means. You can use the touch-screen to select the word and look it up with the built-in dictionary, which I found very easy to use.

Mises Academy: Thomas DiLorenzo teaches The Road to Serfdom: Then and Now

As you can see from the image above, I also followed my own advice in purchasing the eBook edition of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom from the Barnes and Noble web site. That experience was very easy too. After purchasing it on my computer, I just had to tap “Check for new B&N content” for my Nook to find it in my “B&N Library”. Two more taps, and it was on my screen, ready to read. You can also purchase books directly from the Nook.

Again, the best thing for me about having an eReader that supports PDF and ePub is how it makes it possible to read from a vast online abundance of free, fascinating works. To be able to read Rothbard discussing the Corpus Juris Civilis of Justinian in the ePub edition of his Economic Thought Before Adam Smith, think to myself, “Hmm, I’d like to read The Institutes of Justinian on the subway today”, find it online, and have it in my hands in an easy-to-read format within minutes, is just outstanding.

{ 12 comments }

Daniel June 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Funny, after I downloaded all the books for the mises.org torrents I started to consider purchasing the recently price lowered Nook. I went from being completely uninterested in ebook readers to having a substantial library of works that I have no interest in reading on my eye strain inducing laptop.

Magnus June 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

The sooner backlit screens disappear from the earth, the better. I don’t understand why they even exist any more. E-ink technology is clearly superior in every respect, as far as I can tell.

J. Grayson Lilburne June 26, 2010 at 4:40 pm

The only thing about e-ink is that it doesn’t offer a smooth transition from one page to another. It kind of flashes every time you turn the page. The effect was really bothersome at first, but now I don’t even really notice it anymore.

Don Lloyd June 26, 2010 at 7:19 pm

I have both an iPad and a Kindle DX, and the problems with the backlight can be avoided by using a black (or dark) background. I like the display of yellow text on black so much that I now have switched almost exclusively from Amazon to Barnes and Noble books solely because the B&N App for the iPad can be so configured. This is in spite of the fact that finding and buying books from Amazon is far superior, although prices and availability are now pretty comparable. On the day that Amazon fixes their App, I’ll switch back.

Regards, Don

Ken June 26, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I’m reading War and Peace on my Sony Reader right now.

Mark June 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I took Jeffrey Tucker’s advice and bought a Sony ereader several months ago. I’m pleased as punch. I knew the prices were going to plummet, so I didn’t let that influence me because if I did, I would never buy any electronic gadget. But the Sony fits in my pocket. It’s display is crystal clear. I expect it will serve me for a few years before technology advancement presents a tremendously better value.

Adam June 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I got my Kindle two years ago, but broke it a few months back. I had gotten completely used to it, so I was surprised how easily I adjusted to reading on my iPhone since then. I agree with Don Lloyd – black background is far better.

I use the Kindle app, plus Stanza for ePub, and GoodReader for pdf’s. I find myself using GoodReader the most these days for items I’ve downloaded from here. Anyone with an iPhone, iPad, or similar should definitely be using one of the many pdf reader app’s to access material from the Mises Institute.

Capt Mike June 27, 2010 at 8:08 am

Great! NOW I learn that I could have downloaded RTS from B+N and saved the Gazillion $$$ I just spent yesterday for FedEx so my girlfriend could pack it down here when she visits next weekend, in time for the RTS class!!

I Googled, but it didn’t come up. But wait, isn’t Google in the same business????? Hmmmmm….

AAARGH.

barack obama II June 27, 2010 at 10:57 am

“Now this is my biggest gripe about the Nook.

While there is a search function and a “coverflow” feature for the Nook’s library of books that are downloaded from the Barnes and Noble web site (the “My B&N Library”), there are no such functions for the books you get from other sources (which are stored in the “My Documents” section of the Nook). You have to manually flip through pages listing all your books each time you want to switch from one book to another. This is a big pain in the neck for anybody who wants to stock their Nook with hundreds (or even just dozens) of books from other sources.”

A possible solution is only storing a few essential books that you plan on reading at that moment in a separate folder. Within “My Documents,” create a folder called “Temporary.” No?

Renegade Division June 27, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I have a kindle and I rarely change the book I am reading to something else(like once every month), so that coverflow feature isn’t that useful, unless you would like to see your books on it.

But either way people are going to find a hack for it(remember itunes didn’t allow non-drm audiobooks to be bookmarked, people found a way around it so eventually they introduced it for any file).

Jorge Borlandelli June 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Hi Grayson,
Just an idea. Can Mises.org sell the Nook, Kindle or Ipad with pre loaded contents and duly organized? I would buy one as I am technically challenged but an eager reader.
Kind regards, Jorge.

bobbyveech June 28, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Thanks for the advice. I’ve been looking into an ebook reader, primarily as a way to tap into mises.org’s vast archives without the eyestrain from my computer monitor, and this post seals the deal in favor of Barnes and Noble’s Nook.

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