Adequate electronic reader

Read e-books from Barnes & Noble on your PC with this basic program.

Much ado has been made over the impending death of the book as we know it, and while we doubt that brick-and-mortar bookstores are going to become extinct anytime soon, it's obvious that electronic books are changing the way that we read. And a separate e-book device, such as Amazon.com's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook, isn't necessary to read them; programs like the Barnes & Noble eReader make it possible for users to purchase and read over two million e-books right on their computers. This is an incredibly useful program, but we have to admit that we are a little surprised that an application from a company like Barnes & Noble isn't better designed.

The program installs politely and is fairly easy to get started with, especially if you already have experience with some other kind of electronic reader. A menu down the left side allows for navigation to the library, settings, a user guide, and what you're currently reading. The menu item for shopping simply launches the Barnes & Noble Web site in a browser window; there's no built-in shopping capability. We didn't already have a Barnesandnoble.com account, so we signed up for one and selected a free sample of a book for sale on the site. We then returned to the eReader and synced it with our B&N account, and our new sample loaded and was ready to be read within a minute.

On the whole the program was easy to use, but we were puzzled by the fact that the so-called user guide didn't actually contain any guidance; it read like advertising copy. It also alluded to features--such as the ability to change the color of a book's font--that we couldn't find anywhere. The reader's features are really quite basic; you can change font and margin size, insert bookmarks, add annotations, highlight text, and look words up on Wikipedia. Overall, we liked Barnes & Noble eReader well enough, but the company would do well to improve its user guide and make some of its other features more intuitive.

Barnes & Noble eReader leaves a folder behind upon removal. We recommend this program to all users.

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