I meandered around a Borders store for the second time in a week! This time, my wife was getting her hair cut on Saturday afternoon, and I figured I could spend a little time among the books to feel guiltier about not participating in National Novel-Writing Month. (I really meant to, but my paralyzing neuroses reminded me that I needed to clean the garage last weekend. . .)
While I looked at some of the recent releases, a woman walked up to me and asked, “May I show you the Sony eBook Reader?” She held the device between us.
I got over my momentary puzzlement — I thought I’d turned my “mood of revulsion” force field on — and said to her, “Actually, I already have an Amazon Kindle.”
“Oh,” she said. “That’s our competition.”
“I know. I love the design of the Sony, but the Kindle’s wireless access to Amazon’s store and the book-samples sealed the deal for me,” I told her.
We thanked each other and as she walked away I noticed that there was a Sony eBook Reader kiosk nearby. Since it appeared that Sony & Borders were collaborating, I thought that a great way for them to combat Amazon’s superiority in online retail would be to have e-kiosks in Borders stores, where people could plug in their Sony eBooks and buy/download titles while in the store. Of course, the kiosks here were just holding a couple of eBook Readers.
At home that evening, I checked out Sony’s eBook online store, to see how it measured up to the Kindle store (which is integrated with Amazon). I scrolled down the Sony storefront, I noticed this banner for some available books:
Just to make the obvious and crude joke: Deepak Chopra’s Jesus is caught between the Decadent Duke and Swallowing Darkness.
Well, who am I not to click through Swallowing Darkness (uh-huh-huh-huh . . .), I thought?
That’s when I discovered that you can’t actually buy a title for the Sony eBook through the eBook store website; you need to have the eBook Library Software installed on your computer. And that software? It’s not available for the Mac, so Mac users can only load PDFs and public domain books on it.
Just so that’s clear: Sony’s biggest advantage over the Kindle is elegance of design, but Mac users â€” who tend to put a premium on elegance of design â€” aren’t able to buy books for it.
Bang-up job there, Sony.
BONUS: And that Sony/Borders partnership? It yields this great and useless website, which only has two active links: one for that library software and one for a promo to get 100 free “classic” titles, with purchase of an eBook Reader . . . by Sept. 30.