It can be terrible!
I am a completely convinced user of eReaders, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog, but on occasion I am almost driven to despair by the clumsiness involved in actually getting eBooks into my various eReaders.
Most websites that sell eBooks have given a lot of thought to the matter of downloading and installing your eBooks on your eReader, but others seem to have almost ignored this aspect of it all, and left us to our own devices to a large degree, or devised astonishingly complex systems for this function, which causes all manner of totally infuriating problems for anyone who isn’t a complete computer freak.
Waterstones. a cautionary tale………
Waterstones, a British book seller have evolved an interesting and totally confusing method for getting your eBooks from them, as my wife discovered a couple of days ago. She selected three eBooks she wished to read, and went through the entire Check Out business reasonably well, only having to repeat the process twice owing to some internal (Waterstone’s internal) problem, but finally got to the point when a screen appeared with the three books she had ordered, each with its own comforting little button next to it, labeled “Download”.
She duly pressed the first one, and after the normal hesitation as her computer decided which download system to use, it came in….. But instead of a download of about 300 KB as she expected, it was about 248 Bytes. She didn’t notice this curiosity, and happily downloaded the remaining two eBooks… Each of which were also in the 200 Bytes range.
The download screen also informed her that an email confirming her order would be sent to her email address… all quite normal. Out of interest, she checked for this email, but it hadn’t come in… But this didn’t seem to be important, so she then went about the normal process of moving her eBooks into her eReader (a Sony), and that is when the real troubles began.
She had downloaded the three eBooks into the correct directory (My Digital Editions), as always. She then opened the software that Sony supply to get your eBooks into the eReader (eReader Library) and looked for her new eBooks….. Not a sign of them.
After a lot of fiddling around, we both gave up and she decided to send Waterstones an email asking for help. When she opened Outlook, the promised email popped up, and it turned out to include detailed instructions on how to get your eBooks into your Sony eReader.
It turns out that what she had downloaded were not the eBooks themselves, but licenses specific to those particular eBooks, and if she now followed a lot of remarkably complex instructions, the actual eBooks would be downloaded onto her computer and she would be able to install them on her eReader. But it was too late, in our futile attempts to install the eBooks, we had somehow damaged them (beats me how, but we had), and so the whole process ground to a dismal halt.
We none the less emailed Waterstones, explained as best we could what had happened, and asked for help. The following day we received a standard reply, with reams of instructions on how to do this (obviously a lot of other folk have had the same experiences).
So, I sat down and set to work….. total failure.
I have been using computers since about the mid 80′s so I am reasonably competent, but I was completely lost in no time, and simply gave up after a couple of wasted hours.
Luckily, we had paid for these eBooks with “points’ that we had accrued about a year ago, at which point it was simple to download books from them, so we didn’t lose any money on this farrago, but all the same……………………………..
If instead of sending all those instructions in that email, which we received about an hour after we had downloaded what we thought were the books, but had placed them next to the Download buttons, all these problems would probably not have arisen.
The net result of all of this idiocy is that we two will certainly never attempt to purchase any more eBooks from Waterstones, which is a pity for them, and as I mentioned above, our experiences were obviously not unique to us, so there are probably many potential clients out there who will also avoid Waterstones like the plague from now on.
In order for eReaders that are not tied to a particular online book shop to succeed, it has to be simple to get your eBooks into your eReader obviously. Companies such as Amazon have taken this into account, and designed an extremely easy method of doing all of this, as have Apple and a number of other companies, but this is aimed at their own eReaders, not any of the many eReaders not tied to a particular store.
Happily, most online eBook suppliers have also thought this through, so in general it all works fine… But when it doesn’t… Hoo Boy you have problems!
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