How NOT to sell ebooks

Astak got a lot of press last year for promising an ebook reader in the $150 price range.  That never materialized, but they are now selling a rebranded Hanlin V3 for $270, putting them right alongside much of the competition.  Cheaper than Sony and Amazon, but not cheap enough to change anything.

So, they’ve launched Mobiebook, an ebook store to go along with their reader.  This makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is the giant disclaimer on the front of the site:

All eBooks on this website are powered by Mobipocket eBooks common library and you can read them on your PC, but not on the EZ Reader. This is because the EZ reader currently does not support DRM ebooks. We are working hard on supporting the DRM format, and we will notify EZ Reader users when a firmware update is available it will be displayed on this website.

Can you imagine if you bought an iPod and followed Apple’s instructions to head over to iTunes, and then were told you were welcome to buy songs, but you couldn’t play them on your new device?  iTunes would have lasted about a week with no sales before disappearing.

When you have two complementary products (MP3s and MP3 players, ebooks and ebook readers, whatever), sales of one are supposed to drive sales of the other.  Ideally, this even works both ways.  But here, because of the ongoing ebook format wars and the inclusion of anti-consumer DRM, we have a situation where the complementary goods aren’t even complementary.

They also have a really interesting “promotion” going on, where you can pay extra for things that are usually included in the price.  Maybe I’m missing something – the website is pretty awful – but I’m not sure where the deal part of this is.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]