For the past few months, Barnes & Noble has been offering deals on their Nooks if you purchased a 1-year digital subscription to the New York Times. I have been a long-time subscriber to the print version of the Times, but have been unhappy at the regular price increases for the print subscription. Alas, as unhappy as I proclaim myself to be over the price increases, my unhappiness was not enough to get me to cancel the subscription.
The Nook deal looked good to me. The digital version of the Times costs $20 per month; the regular print subscription was costing me close to $50 per month. I went and looked at the Nook Touch, which was free with the subscription, but didn’t buy it. I just couldn’t figure out what I would do with another ereader, as I am very happy with my Sony devices, both of which still work perfectly after years of use. Besides, I could get the same digital subscription at the same price on my Sony.
The reason I bought my Sony 950 was to digitally subscribe to the Times. I gave it a trial run, and although I was happy and would have continued, my wife didn’t like it; consequently, we went back to the print version. That was 18 months ago.
The Nook offer expired on April 5. My wife decided to give me an early birthday present and ordered the Nook Tablet (16GB version) with the Times subscription before the offer expired. I was pleasantly surprised. I had not considered the Nook Tablet, but her choice of device works perfectly for us. I’ll get to the reasons a bit later, but I want to first describe the problems we had when the Nook arrived.
The device worked fine on arrival. I had a problem getting my network to recognize it so it would have WiFi access, and I couldn’t get through to Nook support; they kept transferring me and hanging up. Ultimately, because we have Verizon FiOS Internet service, I called Verizon and within minutes I was connected to the WiFi. Apparently, Verizon gets a lot of calls from Nook owners with the problem, so they knew what to do immediately.
But this raises a question: Why is the Nook the only device to have to jump through hoops to get that initial connection? My Sony 950 connected without hesitation. Part of the problem is that the Nook asks for a network password when what it really wants is the network WEP key. Had I known what it wanted, I could have been up and running in seconds without a call to Verizon. My Sony asked for the WEP key, not a password.
Anyway, once connected to WiFi, I was able to complete registration of the device and link it to my Nook library. (Yes, I had a Nook library of books “bought” from B&N even though I didn’t own a Nook device. I downloaded the books to my computer and then used Calibre to load them onto my Sonys.) But what I couldn’t get was the New York Times, which was part of the purchase.
A call to B&N customer support, to which I was connected quickly, solved this mystery. Because my wife bought the device and used her credit card, the subscription was linked to her B&N account. Easy enough, I thought — just move it to my account. Turns out, B&N has no method for dealing with gift purchases and couldn’t transfer the subscription to my existing account.
I asked what was to me the obvious question: Doesn’t B&N hope that people will buy Nooks and subscriptions as gifts for others? Why make it impossible to do so? It reminds me of the early fiasco when B&N wouldn’t accept gift cards to pay for Nook books. Seems to be something missing in the thinking, which does not bode well for B&N’s ultimate success.
Because of the impossibility of transferring the subscription, we had to cancel the purchase, return the Tablet to the local B&N store, and buy another Tablet under the deal but on my credit card. How illogical is this? Here I had to return a perfectly good Tablet that B&N will now have to sell as a refurbished unit simply because they couldn’t transfer a subscription.
Even that, however, didn’t go as smoothly as it should have. To set up the Times subscription, I needed the e-mail address and password for my B&N account. The e-mail address was not a problem, but I had no idea what the password was (I use RoboForm, a password manager, to manage my passwords and to log me in). So I had to return home, get the password, and return to the local store to conclude the transaction. Once again, B&N isn’t thinking “customer first” service.
Truthfully, if this hadn’t been a birthday gift, I probably would have simply canceled the original transaction and gone no further.
In the end, the Tablet is up and running and I have my Times subscription. I canceled the print version and am saving myself $30 a month. Plus I can carry the Times with me and read it on the go.
As it turns out, the Nook tablet has solved another problem for us. We rarely use our cell phones. In fact, our cell phones are about 6 years old and don’t have any of the smartphone features so common today — no Internet access, no e-mail, etc.
Because our cell phones really do only one thing — albeit they do it very well — which is to make and receive phone calls, and because we are planning a vacation for this summer out to Utah and the national parks of the Utah-Arizona-Wyoming-Montana areas, we were thinking of upgrading our phones to smartphones. We think we need to have at least e-mail contact for business reasons. Alas, that would have meant a new 2-year commitment (currently, we have no commitment), something I was reluctant to do.
The Nook Tablet solves that problem for us. It gives us e-mail access and Internet access, assuming, of course, we can get a WiFi connection, which we should be able to do most of the time.
So far I am very pleased with the Nook Tablet. The screen is very good (although it is only 7 inches) and its functionality suits my needs. Although it doesn’t have the functionality of an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab, it provides the functionality we need at one-third to one-fourth the price of a more functional tablet. Even with my limited experience with the Nook Tablet, I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for basic tablet functionality.
(Via An American Editor.)