Recently I was approached to review the Sony Reader Store. It’s quite clear from content on BA that I don’t normally review stores, but I thought I’d give it a go. Us bookworms need to know where to buy books and what stores are worth visiting, even more so when it comes to eBooks. Right?
Personally I love simple, but eye-catching, websites with easy-to-navigate menus. As soon as more than needed visual displays and options are present, I want to switch to another website.
My most important first impression of the Sony Reader store was not being overwhelmed. Instead I felt a sense of relief at finding easy-to-navigate tabs for the menu, the search bar right up front, and the rotating banner.
Browsing and Selection
I tend to be aimless in my book-buying methods. Most of the books I read come from the library, or are review copies, which make entering a store a novelty. I’m far from a naive consumer though, being well aware of consumerism and marketing, but I appreciate some direction when I’m aimless. The rotating banner on the Reader Store showcases new releases, themed reads, and a taste of what the store has to offer. It’s an option to start somewhere and it’s a visually elegant and painless way to begin.
As you scroll down, bypassing the banner, you get a plethora of categories and featured scrolling lists. Before going through the categories, I decided to check out the scrolling lists. Without having left the homepage I’d already discovered several titles I was interested in and had an idea of pricing. Each book in the lists include the information of author, title, and price.
I dislike having to mouse-over an image for more information. Having the above details present under each book cover makes me happy. I don’t feel like I’ve been going through a boutique market where the prices aren’t marked forcing you to ask about it and emotionally investing in the item. Sometimes we might like an item, but it doesn’t mean we want to spend that much, and hunting down the price doesn’t mean a shopper is sold on it.
There are a great deal of categories to choose from, but I will point out a downside I found. I find this is a commonality when it comes to bookstores, especially with areas such as Young Adult. Categories aren’t split into sub-genre categories. Young Adult and Short Stories is a great example of this on the Reader Store. I know there are readers out there who consider Young Adult a genre in its own right, but I’m not one of those readers. If you’re looking for a particular genre in something like Young Adult, then it’s probably best to search for a title.
The upside is Science Fiction and Fantasy are separate from Fiction. There’s also a Free eBooks section featuring short stories, chapters, and work from well-known authors. If you scroll down the homepage even further, you’ll find everything you need to know about the store, contacts, and links to eBooks under certain prices.
I’m one of those readers who tend to be discouraged by searching for a particular book. I blame this more on my tastes differing from what is popular. I tend to test out search engines with online bookstores even though I know it’s going to be rare those titles show up. You never know though, so why not try? If a store has Voyage to Kazohinia for instance, I’m going to be talking about it.
To be fair, I searched for better known titles I am interested in reading. My most wanted ones lately have been Murder in Mississippi by John Safran and Balancing Diabetes by Kerri Sparling. Do you know what I love? Drop down menus in search bars that actually find the books you want. Straight away both books popped up with price and even an image of the book cover. I re-attempted the search with author name and then title, just to be thorough.
Of course then I had to search Voyage to Kazohinia. At first I thought it wasn’t going to show, as I searched with ISBN, but then I tried by title. Lo and behold, what should pop up? Voyage to Kazohinia! Lesson here is, ISBN search on the Reader Store doesn’t work, but if you know the title and author then everything is fine.
I went ahead and purchased Balancing Diabetes by Kerri Sparling. Checkout was very easy and straightforward with the loveable option of leaving checkout to keep shopping. Once again navigation was straightforward. The only thing that dissuaded me was the need to sign-in. I love a quick checkout with the option of purchasing as a guest. I do understand the need for an account with an eBook store. When it comes to keeping records and being able to find the title again incase you lose it, you need an account. This ended in only a split-second of annoyance.
I did have to sign up and confirm my details, naturally, which thankfully wasn’t too disruptive to my shopping. It was as easy as switching to my email in a new tab, clicking the link, and the next thing you know I was back in checkout.
For those who are yet to download an eBook, Sony makes it effortless. As soon as you purchase your items the download button is available and you can’t miss it.
You don’t have to worry if you accidentally, or purposely, leave the window before downloading. If that’s the case it’s as easy as going to your library and downloading from there. The added bonus is the Reader Store keeps you logged in so you can come and go if you need to.
I love a good eBook store and not from being lazy, but convenience. I become agoraphobic and claustrophobic in stores, especially when I want a particular title. eBook stores make it much more pleasant to buy books at times (don’t get me wrong, I still love a good bookstore) and the Sony Reader Store was one of them.
Apart from lack of subcategories and the inability to search via ISBN, browsing, searching, and buying from the Sony Reader Store was a breeze. The only stress I’ve developed from the experience is having even more books added to my reading list.