Jeremy J. Jones – Stranded in Thought

July 12, 2010

Borders eBooks: anything but easy

Filed under: Opinion — Jeremy @ 5:53 pm

I am a huge fan of Borders. At least their bookish sections. I could really do without the coffee and other stuff they sell in their stores, but I understand why they offer all that stuff: to bring people in. I get that.

Yesterday, I traveled to my local one to buy a gift certificate for a friend, and I got a coupon from them advertising their currently running “Free eBooks” promotion.

I am not enamored with the idea of eReaders at all. I don’t like to read on an electronic screen. There’s glare, it’s too small, I can’t really be comfortable while I do it, et cetera. But I decided, since Borders was offering me five free eBooks, I would give them a try. Their advertising worked on me.

So I downloaded the Borders eBooks app (to my PC; there is no option for the BlackBerry Storm), and went to get the titles. I was pleased to find I’d already been provided with five titles: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; .

“That’s pretty cool,” I thought, and went about downloading the advertised five titles.

Here is where it became problematic and mildly irritating. First, I learned that I had to enter a $0 transaction for each book. I didn’t like that very much, but I understand that the system is set up for purchases, and probably the only way (they can think of) to provide free titles is to provide them in a no-cost transaction. “Fine,” I thought, and I went about purchasing the first, and here’s where the real trouble began that ended in my writing this post.

Despite having a preexisting account with that contains billing information, I had to enter all this information again. That was a bit annoying.

The form requires a phone number, and that phone number cannot contain any dashes. No information is given that explains that, other than that at the time of purchase, a notice is given that the phone number “appears to be invalid.” In honor of Baseball’s All-Star Game, and the passing of the legendary Bob Sheppard, I’ll use a baseball analogy; that was strike one.

After I figured that out, I checked the box that indicates I can click to save all my entered information for future orders, and shortly thereafter realized that it was not possible to purchase more than one title at a time, meaning I would have to enter five transactions. Strike two.

On attempting to purchase the next title (for no charge), I learned that the billing information was not recorded and I would have to reenter it, and do it three more times after that. Strike three.

By now I was pretty pissed. But I quickly realized I could work it all out in words, so here we are.

I’ll probably flip through some of the titles, but the fact remains that I hate reading on a computer, which is odd since I’ve been working with them for about thirty years. Nonetheless, I prefer a real book in my hands. I would never discount the market potential, and I’m sure some day I’ll come around, but right now the technology is just not my cup of tea.

And Borders’ eBook app, while a great idea, didn’t work very well at all, for me.

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