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Old 02-18-2013, 02:16 PM   #1
Davidsc
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Open letter to BN re software updates

After a recent software update made side-loaded books unreadable, a Customer Care supervisor asked that I write up my thoughts and send them to B&N. I did so, hoping to suggest possible solutions to a problem that I think some of us have had. Given that I have received no confirmation that B&N even received the email, I am posting here. I am interested to know how many sideloaders have been impacted as I have, and how those people feel about the following:

About 45 minutes into my hour and a half on the phone with nook support yesterday, a customer care supervisor suggested I write. She said that if you were to receive my thoughts in my own words, rather than through her notes on a really long discussion, that would be helpful to barnes & noble.

I am a long time ereader user, and general gadget user too. So I have experience with my old Sony Pocket ereader, two kindles (neither of which has a touch screen), a nook simple touch, a nexus 7, and an iPad. Of all of them, reading on the nook is the best. I never would have imagined that there could be an ergonomic difference in such things, but there is.

That said, while I like reading on my nook, I have grown quite wary of Barnes & Noble, particularly because of my experience with your automatic software updates. A few months ago, you had an update that made my side-loaded content (purchased from Sony and downloaded from Gutenberg before I got my nook) inaccessible. The only solution was to deregister my nook, and start from scratch. I downloaded all books purchased from B&N (there were lots), reauthorized my device with ADE, and side-loaded all my content. Not too bad. Then came the effort of reassigning 275 books to shelves - that is an hours-of-work pain. (If you are not sure why it takes a long time to re-shelve 275 books, acquired over a few years, try it.) And I had to do this on both my nook and my wife's.

Then, a couple days ago, your new update made side-loaded books unusable, though with a quicker solution. Just hook up the nook to ADE and reauthorize. Unfortunately, I was half way through a library book, getting ready to fly home from a business trip. I could not read my book. That was a cliffhanger the author did not intend, and that I did not appreciate.

With these in mind, I have come to think of your updates as sometimes destructive - they have made some content on my nook unusable, and in one case required hours of work. My suggestion to your customer care people was that B&N ask permission to download and install upgrades, rather than to do it automatically. Most of my other software and gadgets do this. And given that your last two updates have been destructive, to me and to some other users who participate in your forums, asking permission would let me time the download and prepare for the worst (unless, of course, you can make your updates non-destructive). After being told that this was not an option right now, a support person offered a suggestion I had thought of, and that is to turn off my nook's wireless. That's easy enough. Then I can avoid the pain of such potential problems. Of course, that doesn't help you much, because with wifi off, buying books from B&N won't really work.

So, my suggestions, which your customer care person asked me to share:

- If possible, make updates non-destructive.

- If you cannot make updates non-destructive to side-loaded content, then make sure it doesn't get any worse than having to connect to my PC and reauthorize.

- If I will ever have to deregister my nook again and start from scratch, can you please make it easier to reshelve my books. One thing that would have made the job immensely easier would have been to get a list of how all 275 books were shelved before I had to start from scratch. Then, at least, reshelving would have been mechanical rather than requiring lots of thought - guided by a simple list rather than requiring thought for lots of books for which I don't remember details.

- If possible, give the user control over when whether and when updates are downloaded and installed. Most of my other gadgets and software do this, sometimes even warning in advance to back up my content before doing so.

- If you cannot do that, then at least warn us in advance, perhaps by email a few days before automatic updates. Then I can turn my wifi off if I am not ready to take a risk. In such an email, you could also warn us about whether there are any content-destructive features in new updates, so we can prepare.

I have taken the time to write this in the hope that it will be useful to B&N, and hopefully useful to nook users. I would appreciate some confirmation that you have received and read these comments.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:09 PM   #2
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I suspect your real issue is with ADE, not the nook (or perhaps with both). You seem to be sideloading throught it, rather than directly, or through, say, Calibre. That will likely add some kind of encryption, which is probably the problem. I've never had an issue with sideloaded stuff, but I only do so through Calibre, and only work in uncrypted epubs. There is no reason why you should have issues with Project Gutenberg stuff.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:20 PM   #3
Davidsc
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You are right - I always do sideload through ADE. I know it is necessary for library books, but never tried any alternative approach for Gutenberg books or for books purchased from Sony, Baen, and Google. Thanks for the idea

Last edited by Davidsc; 02-18-2013 at 07:16 PM.
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Old 02-18-2013, 07:43 PM   #4
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ADE is known for being very, very finicky in ways that make it break a lot. In short, it's buggy and poorly written, and a first class pain in the ass to fix when that happens.

On the other hand, you'd think that B&N would be as aware of this as anyone, and work real hard to avoid breaking it with updates.
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:09 PM   #5
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I feel your pain. Have you thought/tried side-loading all your content to a SD card? I repeatedly suffered through this numerous times (old-dog-new-tricks?) with my Nook Color. For some reason a flash of inspiration struck me when I got my HD and I'm a happier person for it. All my non-B&N content is on my SD card.

Now, most of my side-loaded content comes from Gutenberg/Mobileread so I do not have a DRM problem, nor do I check-out ebooks from the library. I don't think Baen uses DRM either. Be it far from me to tell/recommend to anyone to break any laws, but using non-DRM'd material on B&N, Amazon, etc... devices is much simpler than dancing with ADE's DRM.
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:44 AM   #6
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Make sure you have the latest version of ADE (2.0). It's been completely re-written to use native Windows and OSX APIs. I think the 1.x versions were written on top of some strange embedded version of AIR (Flash), which probably accounted for a lot of problems and limitations that were difficult to fix. Not saying 2.0 is without bugs but at least it has more capabilities (including ability to read ebooks from B&N, and some ePub3 features) and it should be easier to update going forward.

And yes, you don't need it except to side-load books with Adobe DRM (but only the non-B&N flavor).
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:34 PM   #7
Lori Reeser
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I feel your pain, literally.

I have also had various problems with my data disappearing from the Nook Color (not just books, but music and pictures). I also finally realized that the SD card did not have this problem. Now everything is on the SD card except B&N stuff.
The problem between Adobe and Nook also hit me. Stupidly I forgot to back up my apps, including my calendar app which has become my default when I am not at home. I am still recovering from that.

Also, I keep most of my stuff either in the B&N cloud or in my Calibre library. I have fewer than 20 books in my Nook. I use Calibre for most of my side-loading. I only use Adobe for library books. If I could figure out how to avoid Adobe for that, I would be happy.
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