New Nook - Looking good.

OK, I haven't even seen this gadget, but if I didn't already own a Kindle, I'd be sold. First, appearances. OK, we're working from photos and videos right now, unless you happened to be at BEA this week where they announced the device. But the new Nook has a sort of clean, streamlined look to it that other readers have largely lacked. It's got nice "lines", I guess you could say. And honestly, if I am going to be holding a device in my hand for a couple of hours a day, 5-7 days a week, for a year or more, I really don't feel bad about wanting it to look pretty and feel good in the hand. Knowing about the latter will have to wait til we actually see them in two weeks - but it certainly looks nice.

It's a touchscreen ereader. Gone are the buttons which users of other devices have complained gradually lose their paint and sometimes stop working. Instead, you can pull up a touchscreen keyboard. That also means when you're reading, pretty much the whole device is the page, sort of like...well, like a book. My feeling is that this style will make for a better, easier reading experience. I don't think having to open the touchscreen keyboard will bother many folks - most of the time you're reading on an ereader anyway, not writing; and touchscreen keyboard seem very popular in cell phones. Not to mention the iPad.

The new Nook is only 80% the weight of the Kindle, but is reported to have much longer battery life. Not sure how they extended the battery without raising the weight, but if so, I'm not going to complain! B&N is advertising that you can go two months between recharges. Obviously, that depends upon how much you read (I'd be more interested in hearing the actual battery life in page turns or hours read). But they're claiming they now have the longest lasting battery in an ereader. If so, it's another big plus.

I want to talk a moment about Nook Friends, too. Nook Friends is B&N's upcoming book-related social network. Now, there's other social networks out there for books. But by tying the network into the ereader, B&N is opening up a lot of new worlds. Joe Konrath recently wrote an exciting blog about how ebooks could become social communities in their own right. It looks to me like what B&N is trying to do - link books directly into a reading focused social experience - could be a powerful step forward. And a lot of fun, to boot. I think this is a great move, and look forward to seeing what they do with it, and what opportunities they offer publishers to make their books more actively involved in Nook Friends.

Having the ability to put any picture I want in as the "off" image is something else about Nooks in general that I am fond of, and the New Nook retains this. The storage system for books on the new Nook is supposed to be a bookshelf style set up, like the iBook layout I assume. I think that's dramatically better than the Kindle layout, where books are stored by title, in folders, with a fairly crude level of organization involved.

Don't get me wrong - I still like my Kindle. I like having free 3G wireless internet, for one thing. Being able to read blogs on the fly or use my Kindle 3G to mapquest or read email from anywhere is pretty nice. But this new Nook is a serious step forward in a lot of ways. And if they do a good job rolling out the social network Nook Friends, that could be a huge impetus for folks to jump on board this ereader.

Overall, I'd say this looks like a great effort on B&N's part, and I look forward to seeing the devices themselves soon!