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Nook as a Magazine Platform

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20 Jan 2013, 08:01 PM
Post: #1
I've been having a play with Nook's magazine offerings. Like its rival eReader platforms the Nook has a "Magazines and Newspapers" store - though truth be told I was unable to find a single newspaper there.

There's quite a range of magazines, varying from largely text-based content, to some that use a lot of graphics content. Barnes & Noble offer a 14-day free trial for each title with the promise that they will not debit your account if you cancel before the end of the trial. Having selected a magazine to try out it was therefore a little surprising to see the message:

Quote:Thank you for your order!

Your Order Number: XXXXXXXXX
Email confirmation will be sent shortly.
Order total: £1.99 ( £1.99 has been paid by credit card. )

However a subsequent email confirmed:

Quote:If this order qualifies for a free trial, you will not be charged until the trial period has expired.

I tried the Linux Format

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and T3

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magazines, the former has a lot of graphics each with a paragraph or two of text whilst the latter tends more to the long-form. As you would expect most of the graphics are not included in the version downloaded to the Nook Simple Touch. Typically there is one picture per article which made some of the T3 articles difficult to read, but suited the longer articles in the Linux magazine quite well. In many cases the titles of the missing photos are left in place which doesn't help matters.

Navigation is quite easy, but the table of contents has only one level so a "Review" section appears as just a list of the products being reviewed which made getting an overall view of the magazine layout difficult.

No adverts are included in the Simple Touch version of the magazines. This may or may not be a good thing depending on your reason for buying the publication.

The Nook Android application gives a much more graphical reproduction of the magazines. Download is quick and the default view is a full page reproduction of the printed magazine. This gives a very comfortable view for browsing through the magazine on a larger screened phone or tablet. Double tapping or pinching the display zooms it to twice the size, however the text was not quite readable at that zoom level on a Galaxy S3 with its 4.8" screen. However at the top of each page of content there's an [ArticleView] button that displays a single column, zoomed-view of the content optimised for reading. This is comfortable to read though there are no options to change font-size, line-spacing etc.

Adverts are included in the Android version of the magazines, but there is no "ArticleView" meaning that some adverts with small text are unreadable on some devices.

It was at this point that I realised that, unlike Amazon and Kobo, there is no Windows or Web readers for Nook content. This is a pity, as the larger screen on a PC would be a natural fit for magazine content. However there is probably licencing issues that prevent delivery on the PC - as far as I know Amazon does not allow any magazines or newspapers to be displayed on its Windows or Web readers - unfortunately Zinio seems to have something of a monopoly here. The fact that there is no Web reader for Nook books is a surprising omission however.

Overall reading magazines from the Nook store is a pretty good experience so far, a better experience than using Zinio and no worse than on the Kindle.
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21 Jan 2013, 09:15 AM
Post: #2
I've never been taken with reading magazines on an eReader. I think it's the lack of colour that does it for me. Mags on an iPad with retina display however are something that definitely does seem to work very well. I think if they ever produce an eReader with colour screen and higher pixel density then they will definitely be in business.

Did you try setting it to Wumbo?
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23 Jan 2013, 02:57 PM
Post: #3
(21 Jan 2013 09:15 AM)Lou Wrote:  I think if they ever produce an eReader with colour screen and higher pixel density then they will definitely be in business.

I've no doubt that we will be seeing such eReaders pretty soon. But what about screen size? In general I prefer the 6 - 7 inch displays of eReaders and tablets over the iPad (which just seems a bit too big and heavy to me) but many of the glossy magazines are a bit of a compromise on anything smaller than a 10 display. But that's because they are still trying to emulate the dead tree product on the new platform rather than rethink the presentation and navigation.

Perhaps the arrival of colour eInk displays with reasonable contrast will see a resurgence of larger format eReaders like the Kindle DX - an area where Nook and Kobo have yet to dip a timid toe (not counting the LCD-based HD+).
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23 Jan 2013, 09:58 PM
Post: #4
I've now installed the Nook app on a 7" Android tablet (actually an Amazon Kindle Fire) and can confirm the experience reading Nook magazines is pleasant. Double tapping zooms the page to around 200% which was easily readable in the magazines I tried. Alternatively each article has the [ArticleView] button to display a scrollable text view, which uses a rather larger (but still not adjustable) font.

This is all very similar to the Zinio magazine viewer, though Zinio have the advantage that their text view is adjustable and pinch-zoom allows rather more magnification.

One strange feature of the Nook viewer is that when zoomed, scrolling the full graphical view of the pages is butter smooth vertically but can be a little jerky horizontally. I suspect its a memory management problem but its slight and no great problem.
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