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What’s wrong with e-reader reviews

There’s no feeling so good as when I read a rant about how everyone is reviewing ereaders wrong and I  find out I’m getting most of the points right, not wrong. It’s a good day.

Mike Cane forwarded this rant to me today. It was written by Beranger, and it’s a pretty good critique of the common mistakes made bloggers when they review ereaders.I don’t claim to catch all these details but I do catch most of them and I’m rather pleased with myself. If you want  to read his entire rant, it’s over here.

There are 5 key points to his rant:

  • reviewers don’t look beyond the hardware
  • the obsession with Wifi
  • library features
  • covers
  • OS independence

I’m going to take his points in reverse order. The last 2 points I generally assume as a given. All ereaders are show up as a USB drive when plugged into a computer, and most screw up covers (if they show them at all).

His chief complaint about library features is that no one discusses how you can organize titles. I do, and I can understand his gripe. This is a relatively simple detail to catch. Heck, just providing a list of sorting options would cover most of it.

I disagree with him on the importance of Wifi, but I do understand how he feels about reviewers harping on it. If the device doesn’t have it, just say so. Don’t turn this one point into the ereader’s biggest weakness.

And as for software features, most reviewers don’t have enough experience with ereaders in order to intelligently critique the software.  Heck, some can’t critique the hardware all that well.This reminds me of a question I was asked by my contact at Entourage way back when. He was bothered by the quality of the reviews for the original Entourage Edge. It still makes me laugh at the reviewers:

Can you tell me why all reviews to date compare us to a Kindle?  Not a Kindle DX, but the 6” version? I didn’t know we weigh 5.5 Kindles, but I guess we do.  I really don’t see the relevance as 5.5 Kindles cant surf the internet or take handwritten annotations.

I think the rant is worth reading. Check it out: Beranger.

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Béranger December 16, 2010 um 10:26 am

Thanks. Just in case Tumblr is down, mirror:

Nate the great December 16, 2010 um 10:56 am

You’re welcome. I’m pleased to finally have someone with high standards that I can compare myself to. It’s going to help me do better reviews.

Béranger December 16, 2010 um 10:29 am

Oh, and don’t forget that having a device with Wi-Fi means "they" can delete your e-books! (Remember that Kindle episode?)

Also, your highlights and bookmarks are uploaded by the Kindle to Amazon via Wi-Fi:

Zigwalski December 16, 2010 um 11:06 am

The reason that people like the Kindle can be compared to I Pod users and I Tunes. Some people just want the convenience of not having to make decisions and have a fuss free environment to just download and read a book just like they download and listen to music.

WiFi can be important in this regard to. It is a convenience. Look at all the steps mentioned when talking about tethering his e reader to the computer, striping the DRM, and using calibre to maintain his library.

Now think of the average consumer. They buy a Kindle (or Nook). Shop on their device for the book they want to read. Press buy and it is loaded. Then they read their book. A process that can take less than a minute and they never have to turn on their computer.

That simplicity is actually desired by many people. Too many people that write the blogs forget that the average person may not want to mess with too much stuff.

If the e book makers and book sellers are here to make money. They way the Nook, Kindle, and Kobo are designed, there is a greater chance for a continued revenue stream.

That is the big failing of the Sony and why the Sony’s have to cost more. They need to make more money from the device because it is not guaranteed that they will make money from the Sony Bookstore.

Richard Adin December 16, 2010 um 11:52 am

Love Beranger’s comment: "In short, you don’t need Wi-Fi. For instance, I believe that Sony got it right: the touchscreen is more important than the Wi-Fi, especially now that they’ve fixed the screen glare." I happen to agree with this position. I download a lot of books from Smashwords and do not find it inconvenient to sideload the books.

I do admit that the couple of times I have bought a book from Sony, the 950’s wireless made it easy, but didn’t obviate the need to download a copy to my computer as well so I don’t get the Amazon hit-and-run treatment.

Darryl Adams December 16, 2010 um 8:38 pm

I agree with the comments of the blogger. Some of the points i (hopefully) put into my reviews, other things like book catalog i do tend to gloss over.

Love for this guy to rate my work. Always looking for critisism (ask nate, he tore me a new one once)

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