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January 21, 2012

Weekend Reviews: The Nook versus the book

Ever since wireless books or "e-books" as some like to call them, have risen in popularity, I have solemnly rejected ever feeling the necessity or desire to buy into the idea, undoubtedly created to make companies such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble copious amounts of money.

I have always been a bookworm, and have long felt that electronic books will be the death of ink-and-paper books, books that fill up shelves in my bedrooms.

Books for some reason hold a special place in my heart, and I can spend hours in a bookstore just browsing and enjoying the atmosphere. As my teacher at Oneonta High School, Mr. Clemons, would say, "In a hundred years, books will still be there … the electronics won't work anymore."

When I got a new phone last winter, it came with the Amazon Kindle app, and hesitantly I bought a few books that were newly released, instead of going through the slight inconvenience of having to go to the store and find them. And forget it if they are out of stock.

However, I still found it preferable to scope around a book shop, such as the Green Toad in downtown Oneonta, rather than make purchases on an electronic device.

Then for Christmas, I got a Barnes & Noble Nook tablet, which allows you to purchase and read books, magazines and newspapers, as well as movies, television shows, purchase music and browse the Internet.

You can also purchase games and applications (my favorite is Words with Friends, which allows you to play individual Scrabble games with other people).

My mother was given an iPad for her birthday and has allowed me to use it when I want.

I admit that much of the functions between the tablets, whether they are iPads, Nooks or Kindles, are the same.

However, the level of user-friendliness differs greatly.

For instance, the iPad is larger than the Nook as well as wider, so to keep a grip on it you have to hold it in both hands. The Nook and Kindle Fire are about the same size, and they both fit comfortably in one hand, much like a regular book.

The Nook tablet also comes with two user guides that guide you through its use, so you are not blindly searching around trying to use it.

Despite the indisputable convenience of being able to purchase countless books and other media all on one device, I still feel loyalty toward classic books.

However, I admit that buying electronic books have saved me a lot of time, especially when I am buying materials for school assignments. Instead of ordering a book online or at a store and waiting a week, or even going to a store, I can buy and read a book almost instantly.

But on the flip side, I was raised on paper books. I collected ridiculous amounts of them, and school events such as RIF, Reading is Fundamental," and the book fairs engrained the value of books into my head.

Reading often transported me into another world, and having books in my hands made it that much better, especially if there was a story behind it, such as waiting in line at midnight to get the new Harry Potter books, or getting a special leather-bound book for my birthday.

Books have always held a certain je ne sais quoi for me, and I don't think I will ever be able to fully make the transition only to electronic books. However, the convenience of them cannot be denied, and unfortunately there may be a time in the not-too-distant future where e-books are the prevalent source of education, and entertainment.

Maggie McVey is a senior at Oneonta High School. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at

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