My father-in-law, Bob—a Marine and decorated Vietnam veteran—recently surprised us all by bringing a slender box along with him on his latest visit. Inside the box lay a Nook Touch Simple.

“This is a good one, right?” he asked. “The ad online said it can hold 1,000 books…” I told him I had heard good things about the Nook in general, but was not familiar with how a ‘Simple’ operated.

“Well, you can’t go wrong with the name,” Bob replied. “But, help me get that free book off there, the one it came with… Dracula. I don’t wanna read that.”

After I removed the offending book, and also got rid of the ‘Authors’ screensaver (which Bob thought looked “creepy”) I plugged the device in to charge for the obligatory three hours recommended by the manual.

While we waited for the Nook to charge, I asked what had possessed him-a staunchly ‘paper-only’ book fan-to buy an eReader at all.

“It’s getting’ too expensive havin’ books delivered to my house,” he said, leaning against the kitchen counter. His home lies in a rural area surrounded by pine trees, with only a few neighbors among the quiet ravines; his service-related disabilities prevent him from either driving or walking into the small town nearby. He does, however, spend much of the day browsing the web for news and emailing his relatives.

“I don’t get out much, so the library’s out… and I can’t go ’round the yard sales. I saw an ad for this thing online. I don’t read ‘books’ on my computer, but this feels light enough… kinda like a paperback. I figured you could help me set it up.”

He figured right. Soon we had the small gray square connected to my laptop and were surfing around the web, looking for books to download. First we looked at the B&N website for some free titles, since my father-in-law had already “spent his wad” on the device itself; the free offerings thereon did little but frustrate our guest, mostly because the titles were not categorized.

“How am I supposed to find a book I like in that mess?” Bob asked, scowling at the screen. “I don’t like those type of books anyway.” (Most of the free titles pictured were romance novels.)

He also appeared unnerved by the fact that he could not transfer just any type of eBook onto his new device, as the Nook only accepts the ePub format. I did, however, manage to find quite a few sites with free ePubs for him to try, including; they listed authors that Bob recognized and wanted, like titles from Jack London and some adventure novels he’d read as a boy. “Captain Blood huh? I remember that one. Put that on.” After a few “what does this do” moments, we managed to find our way around the device with ease, and Bob was really for a solo run.

What part of this particular device really sold him on actually using the device? Re-sizing the font. After two taps I managed to increase the font size and style to suit him. He had no idea eReaders held this kind of option, a thing a good many seniors would probably appreciate.

“This is great!” he said, holding the Nook in his hands and smiling. “I won’t even have to use my glasses… that’s even better than a book…”

He was excited to start reading and also to start looking online for more books once he got home. He had me import the ePubs that my husband and I have written to his Books folder, saying that he’d avoided reading our PDFs thus far due to his personal dislike of reading books while sitting at his computer.

“It doesn’t feel right, reading like that,” he told me. “I like having something like a book in my hands…”

The one blight on his reading experience was due to the devices’ relatively small screen, namely having to swipe repeatedly or press the forward button just to view one ‘page’. He blamed himself, however, for buying one of the “cheaper” eReaders and by the time he left for his home he’s already formed plans to buy a larger screened version in about a year, or so. Even after two weeks–in which time most novelty items begin to loose their luster-Bob was still happy with his Nook and had read through many of the titles we’d put on it.

Via Greene Ink


  1. I’m very fond of my Kindle despite the smallish screen. But I agree with Bob; it would be ideal to have a bigger screen, maybe a 8″ diagonal instead of the 6″ diagonal on the Kindle. Does anybody know if improved eInk screens are being developed? All I ever seem to hear about are tablet type devices with standard screens.

  2. And make sure he checks his library! Even if they don’t have a lot to offer, they may be affiliated with a larger lending site. Some large city libraries allow any resident of the state to sign up with their city library system. For instance, here in Ohio, I’m signed up with the Cleveland Library System (Clevenet) even though I’m in another county. And my local library is affiliated with NetLIbrary. So I’ve got two huge systems available to me.

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