Case study of a new eReader purchase

new ereader purchaseOne of my fun new discoveries of the year was that a co-worker who shares my bus route also shares my love of books. She and I have been spending our commute comparing recent reads, swapping book ideas, and gently teasing each other about our respective technology choices. It was all in good fun, until her Kindle died mid-commute the other day and she started shopping around for a new one.

It was a fascinating look, for me, into the mind of the ‘average’ customer. I have long ago recognized that my own views on ebooks and technology and the book market in general are not typical. This is a hobby for me, and a business too, so I realize most people just don’t care as much about the nitty-gritty as I do. I correct the typos as I read. I have strong opinions on issues like cloud storage and DRM which most regular users neither understand nor care about. So, how does a regular user feel about their ebook purchases? What tilts their decision toward a specific device over another one?

For starters, she has been swayed by the power of brand recognition. Her priority was replacing her beloved device as soon as possible, so I suggested she head on over to Indigo after work and get herself a Kobo. No dice. ‘But the Kindle is a better one, isn’t it?’ She asked me. Well, no. Not necessarily. I’ve used both devices and find them pretty functionally equivalent. And there are things she says she wants to do, like sign out library books, which can not be done on a Kindle here.

But she has been seduced by the Kindle name and kept telling me she had to get another Kindle so she’d have the best one.

It also seemed she had an incentive to stay with the Kindle brand because she, like my non-techie mother, has a bizarre fear of the on-line store. To tide her over until her new Kindle arrived, I helped her download the Kindle app onto her new Android phone, only to watch her spend a frustrating lunch hour trying every password her husband has ever used, so she could sign into his account and access some books.

Why didn’t she have her own account? Well, she just used his. It’s always been that way. Well, didn’t she want to sign up for her own? Would it not be easier, and faster, than this? Not particularly. It’s bizarre to me. My mom has had the same first-generation Kobo registered to my account for several years. I am sure neither Kobo nor Amazon intended for this. They expect that each person will have their own account, and their own device to go with it.

Surprise #3? She had zero interest in bells and whistles of any kind. I reverently described to her the glories of the Paperwhite, from the cloud collections feature to the built-in light. She remained unimpressed. “But I just want to read on it,” she said, and then bought the cheapest Kindle of the bunch.

About Joanna Cabot (1593 Articles)
"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."

6 Comments on Case study of a new eReader purchase

  1. I have to agree with the friend. I just want to read, I don’t want to share my favorite sentences, I don’t want to win awards, I don’t want to know what other people are reading. I have a Kindle and if it dies, I’ll probably replace it with another Kindle.

  2. Hi Joanna,

    Sorry to hear that you aren’t able to download library books to your Kindle, but wonder why that is? Here in Los Angeles County I have access to ebooks from three major libraries and perhaps half of my ebooks are downloaded from one of them.

    That works flawlessly on my Kindle, but I notice that often books are only available in epub or even Blio form. The world would be so much simpler for the readers if there were simply one format, usable by all ereaders, and if we could actually “buy” an ebook instead of the DRM crippled limited use rights we are stuck with currently.

    If I could actually own my ebooks I would buy a LOT more of them rather than using the library and I suspect that’s true for quite a few folks.

  3. I use a Nook, not a Kindle, but I’ve noticed that many of my library’s ebooks for Kindle require a cable and won’t accept WiFi transfer. That may be part of the problem.

  4. Joanna is in Canada and to the best of my knowledge, Amazon and/or Overdrive haven’t figured out how to do library lending in Canada.

    @Marilynn- Only books published by Penguin required a cable and I believe that requirement no longer applies.

  5. For the sharing of accounts. My wife and I share the same account on Amazon also. I change the device names to reflect which is her’s and which is mine. That way there is one easy to search stream of orders and our various devices can all use the one account.

    I do believe it is the only password of mine that she has ever remembered. :)

  6. @Marilynn, the books may say they require a cable, but they actually don’t. It’s a silly “restriction” because the books still show up in a user’s Kindle library and can be downloaded normally. True, however, not every Kindle owner knows that.

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