I got a Barnes and Noble Nook for Christmas.

I’m not sure I need to review it more in-depth than, “I love it.”

I did just have some ideas for how it could be better, and I wanted to put them down on here.

Nook Needs:

Automated Shelfari integration.

Instead of using an on-screen d-pad on the touchscreen to move a cursor around the e-paper screen to select text for highlighting and dictionary lookups, use the touch screen to show the page above in scrollable, 3-line chunks, and use iPhone-esque gestures to highlight words or chunks of text.

A mode where Airplane mode (which pretty much needs to be on all the time except when you’re specifically looking to shop the store or download content so that your battery can be conserved) goes on and off by default when it’s needed. I guess that this would be more like an option that says, “Don’t ever automatically check for new content and updates.” They could make it so you could change content-check intervals, and that might also help with battery life without having to actually shut down all of the radios (wifi and cell) on the thing.

Predictive text input. This one isn’t super-critical, as if you’re used to the iPhone’s keyboard the Nook keyboard is a breeze, but it would be nice.

The ability for advanced users to remap what the buttons on the device do. I understand that this might be something that they’d be cautious of allowing, as the page turn buttons are very clearly labeled for their precise purpose and it would be very confusing to someone new to the Nook to pick up their friend’s and have the buttons be configured backwards, for instance, but I think that advanced users should be able to customize things like this. Just hide it deep, deep within the options menus. 🙂

Picture browsing mode.

In general, the Nook needs to use the touchscreen for more than just menus. They can display whatever they want down there, so why not use it? There are certain situations where the philosophy of using the touchscreen as a menu to control the much slower e-paper screen just makes no sense compared to the idea of just directly interfacing the user with the text on the touch screen.

Nook could use some community oriented features to help set it apart. How about letting me automatically tweet and update my facebook when I buy a new book or when I finish a book? This goes along with Shelfari integration, I think. Make something like Last.FM but for books.

The on-device store could use a better interface for sorting and browsing. The Barnes and Noble’s web site interface has those features,  so just port them over. In addition, the whole Barnes and Noble store experience could use a better recommendation system so that it’s easy to find similar books.

The thing that I think makes the Barnes and Noble Nook stand out from the rest of the e-reader crowd is that everything that I just said is completely within the realm of possibility. The Nook is the first e-reader that CAN be modified in fundamental ways, because their interface is in no way set in stone. When you have physical buttons, your options are limited. When you have a touch screen, the world is your oyster.

And that’s why the Nook is awesome.