Borders FAILs eCommerce 101!

Having 95% decided that I will now buy a Sony Pocket Touch PRS-350 instead of a Kindle (but while, ahem, still buying Kindle-only books [figure that out for yourself]), I went to see alternative sources to buy ePub eBooks from because, frankly, Sony provides an absolutely miserable shopping experience through its Reader Library iTunes-like interface (not that the Reader website is any improvement).

Having had a very good experience with Kobo’s Desktop software, I decided to download the Kobo Borders Desktop app and see if it would provide an alternative to buying ePub eBooks from Sony (the ePub DRM is “classic” Adobe DRM and compatible with the Sony Reader).

The installation went smoothly. While it lacks the stylistic panache of Kobo’s store, the interface is basically the same. While basic (I’d really like to see a Date Published or Date Added To Store sort option!), it’s easy to zip through book listings and categories. It seemed all WIN.

Until I hit the brutal Brick Wall of FAIL.

I decided to grab a free — let me repeat that: F-R-E-E — eBook. I’d done this with Kobo’s app just fine.

This book:

Shut up! This was a test, OK?

So when I tell it I want this F-R-E-E book, does Borders — like Kobo did — just say, “Right! Good! Here ya go! Thanks for stopping by!”?


Instead I get the FAIL:

How absotively posilutely stupid is that?!

The book is FREE, dammit! F-R-E-E!

Kobo gave it to me — and a few more just like it — without asking for credit card information!

But wait, this gets even worse.

Because Borders is a brick and mortar store with several outlets here in NYC. And they also sell Gift Cards.

Do you see anything in the above that would accommodate someone wanting to make a purchase based only on a Gift Card they bought or were given as a present?

No, you do not!

I realize that Borders is new to this entire eBook thing, but for God’s sake, if you’re so damned stupid that you can’t figure out how to do it, at least have the damned basic sense to imitate how Kobo does it!

Now, Borders, go fix this damned mess!

reposted with permission from Mike Cane’s Xblog


  1. Alexander Inglis3 October, 2010

    So, Mike, why not just buy the Kindle 3 wifi instead if you are busily buying Amazon content anyway — none of which will play on a Sony e-reader without breaking your sales license? Is the touch swipe to change pages that much more compelling than native content delivery over wifi?

    Borders e-commerce … I hear you. In Canada, folks wonder why a Chapters Gift Card can’t be used at Kobo. The answer is the same: Kobo is not Borders and it’s not Chapters/Indigo … Kobo is an “arms length” investment and both sales process and customer base are independent. This is less obvious to a Borders customers, clearly.

    This is complicated, yes: but clearly the iPhone, Android tablet, Blackberry and other mobile environments — the thing which Kobo is gambling on to compete with Amazon — are all branded Kobo, not Borders (or Indigo). The main takeaway — correct me if I am wrong — a US resident can purchase e-books for a Kobo (or a Sony for that matter) independently from kobobooks, and Sony’s Reader store … and they will all play back on a Kobo. In other words, you have no reason to buy e-books from Borders unless you choose to.

    Remind me again: if you are already transforming DRM Kindle content into ePub … why not just add the very capable Kindle 3 wifi to your collection?

    1. Zigwalski3 October, 2010


      I have the same e reader and I enjoy knowing I can buy books from many sellers and not just Amazon. Kobo has some cheaper prices than Amazon right now so there is one reason. Also, the 350 is quite a bit smaller than the Kindle. I carry mine in my pocket all the time. It is also made of sturdier materials. It does not have to have a keyboard that you do not use 90% of the time but does have a touch screen you use all the time.

  2. Zigwalski3 October, 2010

    You do realize that Borders and Kobo are in business to make money. Having your credit card information on hand is so that it makes it faster and easier for you to make purchases when you shop from them.

    You are confusing the free books as if it is something they do to be nice for people. It is just a way of doing business.

    On my I Phone, I couldn’t even download free apps without providing credit card information first.

    I have the new Sony too. I love mine btw. I also agree with you about the Sony Store. I have found that the Kobo store is cheaper. I also downloaded books from Kobo using promo codes off the web that save you more money. Google them, and you can find them.

    You are not being charged for the free books. You may not like it but it is a business decision that they make. The books you are trying to download are Gutenberg books or other books you can get for free by going to the publisher’s website.

    1. Alexander Inglis4 October, 2010

      I wasn’t talking about free books at all. Sure, Borders, Kobo and Amazon are in business to sell e-books for a fee. I have an account at both kobobooks and Amazon; each requires a credit card; free promos and pay-for-play books are processed the same way.

      To open an online account at an online merchant for online goods — even for free stuff — I expect to provide proof of ability to pay for things.

  3. Janice in GA3 October, 2010

    OTOH, this weekend a friend of mine was trying to download a free ebook from Amazon, and had to put in a credit card number for it too.

    I haven’t bought Kindle books, so I can’t say if there’s a way around that or not.

  4. Zigwalski3 October, 2010

    Plus are you really going to read Spying in High Heels. Really?? Cough Cough!!

  5. Tom Semple3 October, 2010

    The Borders ebook web storefront is ‘Powered by Kobo’. Kind of ironic.

    I have downloaded both the Borders and Kobo iPhone apps, which are identical except for branding. Compared to Kindle4iPhone, the B&N app, or iBooks, they are vastly inferior and buggy. Not a very compelling impression.

  6. Chad4 October, 2010

    Buy the Kindle 3. It toasts the Sony ereader touch in screen quality, readability and battery life. I bought a Sony while waiting for my Kindle 3 to ship, and it went back the day after the new Kindle came in.

    I haven’t noticed a big difference in pricing between Amazon, Borders, B & N or Kobo.

    1. Zigwalski4 October, 2010

      You probably bought the old Sony and not the new Sony. There is no real difference in battery life. The screens on the old ones were blurred but the new ones are great and use the same Pearl display as the Kindle 3.

  7. SkyDream4 October, 2010

    Try downloading the FREE App iBook from the iTunes store. You do need to create an accound AND you must give Apple your credit card information otherwise you can’t download any FREE App !!

  8. […] set up an account and get free eBooks without having credit card information. Borders, right now, will not. Barnes & Noble’s mutant variant of Adobe DRM requires a credit card — because that number […]

  9. […] set up an account and get free eBooks without having credit card information. Borders, right now, will not. Barnes & Noble’s mutant variant of Adobe DRM requires a credit card — because that number […]


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