phony bookstore 10.06.2006, 5:58 PM
posted by ben vershbow
Since it's trash the ebooks week here at if:book, I thought I'd point out one more little item to round out our negative report card on the new Sony Reader. In a Business Week piece, amusingly titled "Gutenberg 1, Sony 0," Stephen Wildstrom delivers another less than favorable review of Sony's device and then really turns up the heat in his critique of their content portal, the Connect ebook store:
These deficits, however, pale compared to Sony's Connect bookstore, which seems to be the work of someone who has never visited Amazon.com. Sony offers 10,000 titles, but that doesn't mean you will find what you want. For example, only four of the top 10 titles on the Oct. 1 New York Times paperback best-seller list showed up. On the other hand, many books are priced below their print equivalents--most $7.99 paperbacks go for $6.39--and can be shared among any combination of three Readers or pcs, much as Apple iTunes allows multiple devices to share songs.
The worst problem is that search, the essence of an online bookstore, is broken. An author search for Dan Brown turned up 84 books, three of them by Dan Brown, the rest by people named Dan or Brown, or sometimes neither. Putting a search term in quotes should limit the results to those where the exact phrase occurs, but at the Sony store, it produced chaos. "Dan Brown" yielded 500 titles, mostly by people named neither Dan nor Brown. And the store doesn't provide suggestions for related titles, reviews, previews--all those little extras that make Amazon great.
Remember that you can't search texts at all on the actual Reader, though Sony does let you search books that you've purchased within your personal library in the Connect Store. But it's a simple find function, bumping you from instance to instance, with nothing even approaching the sophisticated concordances and textual statistics that Amazon offers in Search Inside. You feel the whole time that you're looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Such a total contraction of the possibilities of books. So little consideration of the complex ways readers interact with texts, or of the new directions that digital and networked interaction might open up.
PoeticaL on November 5, 2006 2:39 AM:
blah blah blah....bash all you like...I own it and love it and CONNECT will improve with time. Its brand new and like all babies will grow.
Hwa Shi-Hsia on January 4, 2007 1:54 PM:
I have no experience with Sony, but let me guess that unlike a physical volume purchased at a bookstore, an ebook purchased through Connect cannot be transferred to another person's ebook reader. Is this correct? If so, that cancels out the slightly lower cost, because you can't save money by sharing novels with friends or reselling used textbooks.