Barnes and Noble announced a major upgrade to its Nook app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch this week, bringing the full range of digital comics capabilities to the app for the first time. Previously, many comics in the Nook store were available only on Nook devices, not on the associated apps. With the upgrade, iOS users can now access any of the 8,000 comics titles in the Nook store.
The Nook folks are also giving new readers an incentive to set up an account now: They are giving away a free Superman sampler comic to anyone who downloads the upgraded app and sets up a new account.
Why would you bother? The Nook app is not as convenient as the comiXology, Comics Plus, or Dark Horse apps, because you cannot buy comics in-app; as is the case with Amazon Kindle, you have to buy the comics in the web store or on a non-iOS device. On the other hand, if you’re the type to shop around, and you don’t mind having your comics in several different apps, the Nook Store sometimes offers lower prices. Also, there are some titles available for Nook that you can’t find on Amazon, such as most Viz manga (although Viz manga are available in the Viz app).
In terms of usability, the app works just fine, but it’s not quite on a par with the otehrs. The Zoom View, which is touted in the press release as an enhancement for comics readers, is somewhat less than comiXology’s Guided View: A double tap enlarges the panel, and you can then drag the enlarged page around so you can see the whole thing. Unlike Guided View, it does not bring you from one panel to the next; all navigation must be done by dragging, which is a less elegant solution. And the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen, which lets you move from one section of the book to another, uses thumbnail pages, which take up a lot of space; a simple slider bar would do just fine without covering up part of the page.
The bottom line is that if you are a B&N shopper already, if you don’t mind switching apps to save a few bucks, or if you want to read the digital comics not available on Kindle, this new app is probably worth a look. Check out the Nook Comics Store to see if anything piques your interest.