Those of you with a Kindle will learn nothing from this week’s eAdventure but you you might enjoy the opportunity to snigger and feel superior.
The biggest negative side effect of not choosing the Kindle as my eReading device is having to shop at places other than Amazon for my eBooks. For some reason that is unfathomable to me no store that I have so far visited comes close to offering a shopping experience even one-quarter as good as that offered by Amazon. I have so far tried Borders Australia, The Book Depository (UK), Waterstones (UK) and had an aborted attempt at WH Smith (UK). American-based stores are excluded from these ramblings as they are all vehemently anti-foreigners (well they won’t sell to us at any rate). By and large the experiences have been underwhelming to say the least. Of these the ‘best’ is Waterstones who at least haven’t made me cry with frustration. Smashwords, an Indie publisher of DRM free eBooks, has potential but it and similar sites will need to offer a more reader-centric experience before they attract mainstream readers (at this stage it appears much more focused on attracting authors).
And so to my plea…
Do you want my money? It doesn’t seem so. If you do, then here are some things you should implement ASAP:
- Make it clear up front what geographical restrictions for sale apply to your store and/or individual books within it. I know it’s possible to do this because these days when I log into my Audible (owned by Amazon of course) account I simply do not see books for sale that are unavailable to ‘people in my geographical location’ (note to WH Smith, don’t bother doing this just for me because I’ll not visit you ever again on principle, having wasted a solid half an hour choosing books only to find out then that I couldn’t buy from you).
- Offer a wishlist/save for later functionality. I cannot believe I have to even bring this up in 2010. Seriously, if you have some old copies of Internet for Dummies lying around you should probably read one.
- Offer an RSS feed or some equivalent kind of alert for when new titles in certain categories/genres or by particular authors are added to your store. eBooks are being added to online stores in enormous clumps as new deals with publishers are made and/or backlists are released in the appropriate format. I would like to know when this happens for my favourite authors/series rather than having to visit your store and carry out the same arduous searches each time. If you tell me when a title by becomes available in your store I will in all likelihood click and buy without thinking. Why do I have to tell you how to get more money out of me, isn’t it your business to know this crap?
- Cut out the pricing bullshit This is particularly applicable to Australian sellers (though publishers share this blame) who have, for as long as I can remember, blamed the tyranny of distance for the outrageous prices charged for books here so what is the excuse for more expensive eBooks? And you can all cut out charging more for eBooks than their printed versions too. Given that an eBook isn’t owned by the purchaser (it can’t be loaned or re-sold and often can’t outlive its device) and there are no printing or distribution costs just stop this kind of nonsense.
- Do not list eBooks as out of stock. It makes you look stupid. If you are in negotiation with the publisher then say so or don’t include the title in your catalogue at all until you are legally allowed to sell it. Yes Book Depository I’m talking to you and believe me it hurts to think so badly of you after having loved you for the past 2 years but in the same way that me claiming psychic powers doesn’t automatically grant them, you listing 340,000 titles for sale isn’t true if more than half of them are out of stock!
- Check that the metadata that is provided by publishers (book title, author name etc) has been transferred sensibly to your database. I know this is radical thinking but perhaps you could employ a human to check the entries, weed out duplicates, ensure the genre categorisations are accurate, add a cover image and put the author’s name in properly
Sincerely, Bernadette (in Australia*)
(*it’s a country, look it up)
Do you have any special request of eBook sellers to add to the list?
Or perhaps you’ve had a pleasurable experience buying eBooks somewhere other than the places I’ve mentioned and would like to let me know (though please don’t torture me with tales of your fabulous American stores because none of them like foreigners and I’ve had enough rejection for this year).