Barnes & Noble’s new Nook For Web feature is a browser-accessible way to read Nook books — both the ones you’ve bought and samples of the ones you’re thinking of buying. Users don’t need a Nook account to access samples if they just want to read an excerpt on the web. Just like Amazon’s Look Inside, readers can open a B&N eBook right in the browser by clicking Read Instantly to get a feel for it before you make your purchase.
The Nook for Web interface is pretty bare bones and simple. On the top right you’ll find reading controls as well as links for getting to your library or the B&N store.
There are multiple text sizes and font faces to choose from, just as with other Nook apps, a contents list that allows users to jump quickly to any part of the book, plus book info and sharing. To turn pages you can either click the forward/back arrows, scroll up and down, or use the arrow and Page Up/Down keys. And for a distraction-free reading experience you can go full screen.
With book samples, Barnes & Noble doesn’t give access to a search function as Amazon does with Search Inside, nor do buyers have access to a selection for any part of the book. You only get to see the sample, which is limited to what the publisher will allow and usually only includes a few pages.
It’s the same content you’d get if you download a book sample to your Nook device or app. But this way you don’t need to sign in or sign up in order to read said sample.
For books you’ve purchased through B&N, users can now Read Instantly from their library once they sign in. The last page read will sync to the system and allow readers to pick up where they left off on other devices. Right now Read Instantly is only available for books and not magazines or kid’s titles.
Another limitation that baffles me is that users can’t access their notes or bookmarks or make new ones from the Nook for Web interface. This is frustrating because right now Nook users can’t access their notes outside of the Nook Simple Touch, Nook Color or Nook Tablet reliably.
Sometimes notes don’t sync to the Android or iOS apps and they’re not accessible from the PC app unless you make them there. Amazon syncs notes across all apps and devices pretty reliably and allows users to access and copy these notes from their web interface. It’s annoying that B&N doesn’t.
Currently, Nook for Web works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari for Mac and PC. Linux support is explicitly not mentioned. Barnes & Noble also mentioned that support for tablet and smartphone browsers is coming this fall.
To access Read Instantly titles just go to barnesandnoble.com and find the product page of a book you like. The majority of titles available for Nook have samples you can access from the web.