I was contacted last week by a freelance marketer who had read my blog and was sure that I could give a fair review of Sony’s ReaderStore. After confirming with the ReaderStore that the contact was legitimate I accepted a $20 voucher to go and experience what Sony had to offer.
Now I am a fan of the Sony hardware. I still have a Sony PRS 505 which I got second hand from a friend ie a 2008 eInk reader. I would have been a member of the store 3 years ago had they an Australian outlet when I first started reading eBooks.
So where to start with this review? Let’s bear in mind my experience with eBooks first as I’m not your first time purchaser. Here’s my profile:
Sean the Shopper
- I have been purchasing, downloading and managing ebooks for 3 years.
- I have been using Adobe Digital Editions(necessary to download the DRM’d products) for 3 years
- I have been a member of a number of Libraries that use Overdrive for delivery of eBooks and would consider myself a heavy user of such
- I have been a Librarian instructing patrons on how to use a myriad of devices to access eBook libraries and eStores
- I am a heavy user of Calibre Library Management software.
So with that in mind, how did I find the store?
It’s got a minimalist look, lets the book covers do the selling. All the navigation links at the top all the help links at the bottom.
Pretty standard fare here, an email address and password, confirmation email. The actual time taken for the webpage to process the signup seemed to take quite awhile but the rest of the process was quick. Thinking about this from the point of view of a newbie though, there was no upfront mention of the Adobe Digital Editions requirement. Sony I think assumes that arrivals to their store are coming there through eReader sales and will already have their Reader software installed on the laptop or on device and perhaps they do?
Browsing and ease of browsing is really the only part where I think a store has a chance to differentiate itself from the competition. With the ReaderStore you have the option of searching by category (they lump Science Fiction and Fantasy together) and a general search field for Author names/Titles of books but not ISBN. Your results can then be further narrowed via a filter that will order the books by Relevance, Date, or Price.
The only issue I had here was when I did a broad search on the Science Fiction and Fantasy category followed by a price filter (looking for cheaper books to get value for voucher), on page two I was hit with the perky naked buttocks of the model who graces all the Aishling Morgan Erotica books and I was tantalised with such titles as Maiden, Innocent, and Princess. I think most people wouldn’t class erotica as Fantasy or Science fiction and when I want cheap SciFi and Fantasy buys I don’t want to wade through 10 pages of badly designed covers to get there. My advice Sony, is to place the Erotica in a category of its own.
I’d also like to be able to view books in price bands to be able to search Fantasy > Price > $5 - $10
For the books that I read, I felt there was a pretty good selection. Hair Side Flesh Side by Helen Marshall and Rob Shearman’s collection Remember Why You Fear Me came up and individual stories from those collections as well.
On the whole the prices seemed a little more expensive, for example Hair Side Flesh Side was $14.99 on ReaderStore compared to $9.99 on Kobo. On Philosophy for Life the price difference was only 90 cents. So without doing a really comprehensive comparison, as with most things - hunt for bargains. The selection wasn’t pricey enough to make me abandon Reader Store with scorn – I’ll add them to my shopping round.
I had no issues with the store, but in first trying to determine whether the review offer was legitimate and not a scam, the ReaderStore response team were good considering the time of day I was contacting them.
Downloading the Goods:
Pretty darn smooth, if you have used any service that requires Adobe Digital Editions i.e. Kobo, Overdrive you will not have an issue. For first time users who are moderately computer literate, there should be no issues. If this is your first time having bought an eReader and books, you may need to sit down and carefully read the documentation or seek out your nearest Library that offers eBooks; the staff their should be proficient.
The Store also offers additional Apps in the form of Reader software. I didn’t download the software to my laptop because I prefer to use Calibre for managing my library and I already had ADE for DRM transfers. I did however download the reader app to my Kobo Vox and at this stage I am inclined to think that it is slightly better at handling epubs than the native Kobo App.
A reasonably well stocked store, clean interface and simple navigation. It could be improved but as it stands on par with other providers like Kobo. Add it to your shopping round. Search for Sony ReaderStore to get the store relating to your region.
Books purchased with the voucher: