Two's a Queue

Retail, eCommerce, usability, customer experience, service, technology...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

e-Books and My Guilty Kindle Secret

Internet Retailing ( reported today on the rise of the e-book (sales reached 16m in 2010). According to the article despite this impressive growth recent research suggests "49% of consumers would rather read a real book".

Funny that - because a 'real' book and an e-book are exactly the same  - reading it - as in the words, and the enjoyment of those words - should be no different whatever the medium. I'd suggest what consumers are actually talking about is a couple of other things:

1. The concept of purchasing/wanting/needing an e-Reader - "odd to read!", "can you take it in the bath?", "Does it run out of battery?", "Carrying around £200 of e-Reader in my bag is much more risky than a paperback" (Sorry I can't help with this I'm already a total convert to the Kindle)

And more interestingly to me....

2. The concept of the buying of an e-book - I have to wonder if the Mintel research had been done only on consumers who owned e-Readers already they would get a percentage of users who would say they would rather 'buy a real book'.

The reason this rings tiny little bells in the geeky part of my brain is because this is something which is different when you own an e-Reader. I'm a Kindle owner/user/convert and it's time to admit, to come clean, to share my guilty secret  - I sometimes buy 'real' books!

The major reason for this is perversely also my favourite thing about the Kindle - it's the Kindle Store - or rather my inability to deal with (therefore the poor usability of) the Kindle Store when browsing from the Kindle itself. I can hear you take a sharp intake of breath - don't think I can't. I mean really? This is Amazon - are you mad woman? Well er yes I think I might be; few points.....

The colour thing really is a barrier - I'm not sure how far away coloured e-ink is for the Kindle (The Nook has colour therefore not long I'm guessing) but it so needs it. Sure a book is happy being read in black and white and shades of grey but I can't buy a book (or rather enjoy the experience of buying) if I can't see the cover properly. Colour says a lot about a book, garish fluorescents=chick lit, black background, chunky text=thriller. There is a reason these trends have developed and I think it's because people have come to recognise a book's genre by it's cover - and it's colours. Without it I find it the purchase decision just isn't

The other thing that really bothers me is the whole 'Top 100' thing. Admittedly this is getting more useful as people are reading and reviewing the free books more and more so you can find some real gems which have gained a kind of Kindle cult status. However - the fact that 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' is at number 5 (not necessarily 5 - could be 3, I haven't checked but I bet it's in there) in the paid list STILL really doesn't make me want to buy - I'm a keano reader and I read it when it only came in paper form. MOVE ON!

So (Mr Cornish) solutions:

Amazon is the undisputed king of ecommerce recommendations  - targeted recommendations for Kindle purchases would be well received. The reason the Kindle store is so hard to buy from can be it's sheer size and the volume on offer. An email to my Kindle which recommended some Kindle books based on what I've read before would make sense and probably make for lots of direct conversions. I get emails from Amazon showing me what I've clicked on before but no targeted marketing at my Kindle. And I feel it's lacking.

The colour thing is a technical challenge but the thrill of spotting your favourite author's new book because you recognise the style, the typeface, the cover style..and also finding new authors because they kight mimic this style.....this needs to be replicated in the Kindle Store somehow. Yes the reviews by other users are great but reading is incredibly personal and I also know which writers I already like, I just can't find their stuff because I can't see it.

Bring me the new. Hardbacks? Possibly worth spending 15 quid on because you get - you know -  a hard cover and stuff. 15 quid for a newly released e-book? Not the same. I want to know what new books are out all the time (I'm a fast reader) so show me -and don't make me pay a premium for the privelege. I'd probably buy a hell of a lot more.

Stop telling me what everyone else is doing. Bestsellers is a concept as old as time in the book world but these days the turnover of new titles is so much higher. So is the amount of people who have still not read the flamin' 'Girl With The Dragon Tattoo'. I'd hazard a guess that the early e-book adopters are big travellers, big readers and well big readers. Targeting navigation at what your users want can't be a bad thing.

That's it for now. Though I'm sure next time I'm book shopping I'll think of some more - and if you're reading this Mr Amazon - waterproofing for reading in the bath? Thanks.

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