Recently I came across a short post in which the author bemoaned the rather unimaginative and unfriendly manner in which most eBook sellers displayed their wares. He made the comparison to how enjoyable it is to browse happily around the shelves of a real book shop (especially the independent ones) as opposed to how it is at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, for example.
Whilst he made no suggestions about how online eBook sellers could achieve the same atmosphere on their sites, he made a plea for them to try and reproduce the happy chaos that is the hallmark of a truly enjoyable book shop.
This is something I have written about in other posts, and I tend to agree with him Even in such sites as Books on Board or Kobo, who have attempted to do this, one is always offered a choice of the type of books one has asked for. You select Thrillers, and you are offered a range of eBooks in that genre, but are highly unlikely to stumble across an interesting eBook on gardening or some other totally unrelated topic, which in a real book shop always happens, and I know one tends to then stagger out of real book shops with more books on differing subjects than you ever intended to do when you entered the shop – plays hell with the credit card, of course.
There has to be a way to replicate the happy mix of unrelated books one finds in a book shop, without making finding and selecting the type of book one set out to find originally too complex.
I know that they all offer a side bar with a list of all the genres one could wish for, but you have to plough through loads of windows and lists to browse in this manner, which very few of us are prepared to do. This is a pity for both the buyer and the seller, as it inevitably means one buys only the book one set out to find, for the shop it means lost income, for us it means missing just that serendipitous find that is one of the main joys of real book shops.
Geographical restrictions too………..
A further irritation of online bookshops is the matter of geographical availability. After hunting and finding the eBook one wants, we are all too often told (as we attempt to purchase it) that it isn’t available in our country. Can you imagine a book shop having books on its shelves, which they then tell you that you are not allowed to buy as you live in the wrong part of town? Whilst I understand the reason for this problem – writer’s agents make different deal with publishers in different countries – I still find it a real problem. As far as I know, only Kobo have attempted to address this problem, by means of identifying the country you are in (by using your computers internet address – IP), and placing a note beside any eBooks that can’t be sold to you where you are. This at least saves you wasted time in choosing a book and starting the check out business, but it remains a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the book sellers and publishers somehow.
If you have any brilliant ideas as to how online eBook sellers could address this problem, do let us know, as eBook buying should be as enjoyable as paper book buying, I feel.