I was recently asked to test the Sony Reader Store and report my findings. As I’ve been having trouble with another ebook site of late with buying books which can’t be downloaded, I thought this was a perfect opportunity. With a $20 AUD voucher in my hand, I decided to give the Australian Reader Store a go.
I love my Sony PRS-650 (the first Reader to be launched in Australia back in 2010) and it’s still going strong, despite it travelling tens of thousands of kilometres and being dropped several times! It allows me to read EPUB and pdf formats easily, although I really just use it for reading books. The touch screen is also fantastic, but the button is handy to turn pages if you’ve got smudgy fingers!
The Sony Reader Store lets you buy ebooks in a DRM EPUB format, so there’s no obligation to have a Sony Reader. This I like! The Australian store was upgraded this week and looks clean and spiffy, whether you’re reading on a PC or tablet. One thing I am a sucker for on ebook sites are the lists of books categorised by a common term – currently Sony Reader Store Australia has The Best Books of 2013, Hot Summer Reads, Top 10 Must Reads and Great Books Under $9.99 (these books are all under this price as of 21/12/13 – a pleasant surprise as the way prices fluctuate, sometimes you’ll find a book in the list that no longer meets that criteria).
Buying a book is incredibly simple. Type in the title or author and the search bar will start matching books (with prices! This saves me a lot of time if I’m checking between sites). If you choose an author, you can scroll through the drop down menu to see prices very quickly.
Click on the book you’re interested in and it will take you to a new screen. Here you can check out the book details. I really like how you can see the format you’re getting. The number of pages is a bonus too – I’m not into the percent read, I gauge how many hours of reading pleasure I get by the (imagined) thickness of the book. I have no idea where the ratings system comes from – it’s not clear how you can have a 3 star rating with no ratings. You can rate a book once it’s in your library though.
After clicking ‘Buy Now’, you are taken to your Shopping Basket. You can buy multiple books at one time, which is great – no more individual charging per book resulting in pages of purchases, which can be hard to explain when the credit card statement arrives. If you don’t have a credit card, you can buy vouchers in $15, $25 or $50 AUD increments at Myer. If you have a voucher, you can apply it here. I’ve never, ever, seen a discount voucher for the Australian Reader Store! Discount coupons are used on the US site, so I would like the Australian store to follow suit. They don’t have to be as voracious as their main competitor with coupons every week, but occasional ones would draw me in more often.
You can continue shopping to your heart’s content and when ready, pay.
After you’ve logged in/joined up, the books you’ve purchased come up on screen with a download button. Just hit ‘Download’ to send them to your computer.
When this pop-up occurs, click open or save. (It works both ways for me). This opens Reader Library and automatically downloads the book to your library. (Note the PRS-650 has no Wi-Fi, so I manually plug it in and then transfer books to my reader). It takes mere seconds.
Voila! You now have lots of books to read. These were the books I purchased:
- Buying is simple. You’re charged in local currency.
- Downloading is very easy – parent and grandparent friendly.
- Very occasionally, there seems to be extra discounts on some books. For example, Fangirl is $9.99 AUD at Sony, but $14.99 AUD at Amazon AU.
- Good Australian representation.
- You can see the format of the ebook you’re buying – before you’ve handed your money over.
- Reader apps are available for your tablet or smartphone – so if you forget your reader, you can load the book on your other device and continue reading.
- Weekly emails with new books and ranges.
- World wide stores (UK, Germany, Austria, USA, Canada, Japan and Australia).
- Extensive FAQ and support email and free call number (operating weekdays only).
- Trying to find the gift cards in my local Myer proved impossible – nobody seemed to know if they stock them and where they are. (I will try again after Christmas).
- Occasional discount vouchers would be a great incentive!
- Wide variation in the price of some books, making Sony Reader Store Australia less competitive against other ebook retailers. For example, One Summer by Bill Bryson is $31.59 AUD in the Reader Store, $20.69 at Kobo, $15.99 at Big W Ebooks and $15.19 at Amazon AU.
- Definitely needs increased promotion, so more people know it’s an option that charges in Aussie dollars and isn’t just for people with Sony Reader devices.
Have you used the Sony Store to buy ebooks? How do you choose where to buy your ebooks?
(Thank you for the $20 AUD voucher provided to test the Sony Reader Store Australia. I have provided an honest, unbiased review of my experience.)