Barnes and Noble Lets You Do What You Want With Your HardwareBarnes and Noble initially earned my loyalty because of their approach to modding and hacking the Nook. They don't really care if you do. No draconian legalese threatened dire consequences for rooting their first color tablet, the Nook Color. There are even free and open discussions on Barnes and Noble customer forums with info on how to do it, and B&N doesn't censor this. By rooting, or "nooting", the old Nook Color you could have access to the entirety of the Android market for apps via the Google Play Store, not just the ones offered by Barnes and Noble through the Nook interface. If you decided to un-root, and wanted to reset to Barnes and Noble's original software, you could. No harm, no foul. Most importantly, no getting stuck with an expensive electronic brick.
Barnes and Noble Acts Like Your E-Books Are Actually YoursAnother reason I chose a Nook e-reader, before they even made the Nook Color tablet version, was that at the time I was shopping for an e-reader (since changed), you couldn't borrow e-books from the public library and read them on the Kindle.
While that is no longer an issue, I've stood by Barnes and Noble for their better approach to their e-book customers as compared to Amazon. In 2009, Amazon.com pissed off a lot of their customers by going in and retroactively removing content from their Kindles, without warning, due to copyright issues. More recently, Kindle titles have been removed on software update due to regional content locks, so for world travelers, it was a nasty surprise. Both times, it was handled in a ridiculously crappy way, and that kind of heavy-handed non-transparency is something that I don't want to support.
Nook HD and Nook HD+ Run Android Apps - NativelyNewer generations of Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets already include full access to the Android catalog via the Google Play Store right out of the box, so you don't even have to bother rooting them. Of course, if you're an 11th level Android wizard, you can still hack to your heart's content, but for mortals who just want to be able to do stuff without a lot of hassle, both sides win. With the Kindle Fire HDX you are stuck with Amazon's catalog of Android apps, unless you do some extra rocket science workarounds. Which Amazon frowns upon.
Nook HD and Nook HD+ Can Read Kindle E-Books TooSince the Nook allows access to the Google Play Store, you also get a second bonus - you can simply install the reader applications for Kindle, and read ebooks that come in that format on your Nook. You simply have your content in the cloud, and can download via the app in the Nook, no big deal. I like not being forced into a walled garden - I have enough of that nonsense to deal with as an Apple user.
With the Nook HD and Nook HD+, or a rooted Nook Color, you don't have to miss out on any Amazon Kindle e-book deals. An even more elegant way to read any e-book format on your Nook is to use a program to convert them into epub files. Then, you can use a reader application like Aldiko that can access all your content in one place, no pesky booting in and out of different applications every time you want to read a different book. The open source Calibre e-book management software, combined with Aldiko reader application is what I use most often now.
Nook HD and Nook HD+ Are An Excellent ValueThis summer there was a whole bunch of sound and fury that B&N would no longer be making Nook e-readers, but it ended up signifying nothing. They are still producing, and selling them. The prices are great for what you get, so when I couldn't make up my mind which version I wanted - the 7" Nook HD or the 9" Nook HD+ - I was able to get both. The fact that you can also add extra file storage to both Nook tablets via micro-SD cards, up to 32gb, means you can buy the cheapest model and still have plenty of room for all of your stuff.
In future posts for this series, I'll round up content resources for your e-reader and some great open source software for organizing and accessing all of your e-books and pdf files, and podcasts.