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Old 09-09-2008, 04:03 AM   #1
jaffab
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Waterstones eBook store - what a mess

Hi All,

Has anybody else tried to use the Waterstones eBook store yet? Apart from being REALLY expensive (compared to say buying a book in the USA or another on-line store), its really hard to find anything. I have just dropped Waterstones the following email (copied to Sony)....

Dear Waterstones (and Sony),

My Wife and I have just purchased two Sony PRS-505S ebook readers. We are very happy with these products – excellent technology.

What lets them down is the Waterstones eBook web site, which fails to work, is hard to use, and frankly is not fit for purpose. This lack of thought or preparation by Waterstones badly lets down the Sony product, and reflects badly on Sony.

Take for instance the only way to find an eBook – the search option (http://www.waterstones.com/waterston...ancedSearch.do). You enter a search criteria, select a format of eBook and the returned list are hundreds of paperbacks and hardbacks – no eBooks are listed.

The alternative method is to Browse. So you select the “eBooks” on the browse menu, and from there, you are given 25 subjects. Ok, so that’s not so bad, but if you select the section of say “Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror”, you have to page through the 271 books to see what you want. This needs to be sub-divided, or to sort by title, or search on site, or author, or really anything to make it useful.

I know its really early days for eBooks in the UK, but you have known this was coming, and it only takes a programmer a couple of days to put a decent filter/search system together. At least, get the advanced search system working.

At the moment, I am doing what everybody else (on the forums) is doing, which is to purchase my eBooks from the states (there are many, many ways to do this and overcome the UK restrictions that the web sites try to detect).
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:09 AM   #2
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Jaffab, I'm in the same boat. The Waterstones site has proved at times exceedingly difficult to browse in many respects.

Without wanting to necessarily defend high prices, I only recently learned that in Europe ebooks count as 'digitised product', which means they have VAT added onto their cost, whereas printed books don't. In that respect, the publishers and website may have no choice when it comes to at least some of their prices.

(I personally regard the addition of VAT to ebook prices as iniquitous in the extreme, sufficiently so I've wondered if I should write to my MP to complain about legislation that acts as a tax on knowledge.)
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Old 09-09-2008, 04:21 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garygibsonsf View Post
(I personally regard the addition of VAT to ebook prices as iniquitous in the extreme, sufficiently so I've wondered if I should write to my MP to complain about legislation that acts as a tax on knowledge.)
It's an EU thing - not down to our government.
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:06 AM   #4
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I have to chime in and say that my experience wiht the Waterstones ebookstore was frustrationg. I was hoping to find a few novels, but gave up and bought thee books for my 505 elsewhere.

I'm thinking VAT % isn't dictated by EU though, since the VAT rate varies in different countries. Did you say you have no VAT on books, we do, but it's a lower rate than VAT on food etc. And we're both in EU
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:19 AM   #5
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I believe, though, that the EU has ruled that eBooks are liable to the "standard" rate of VAT (whatever that may be in each country) because they are classified as "computer software" rather than "books". Countries are allowed to set lower VAT rates for books - eg they are rated at "zero" in the UK.
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:21 AM   #6
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Which is pretty silly when you think about it.
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:24 AM   #7
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Definitely!
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:43 AM   #8
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I wholeheartedly agree with everything above and only want to add one thing...

I wrote a customer review of the PRS-505 on the Waterstones site stating that it the reader is excellent but slating the Waterstones eBook store and the review never made it through to the site... I naively thought that as long as the review wasn't rude or slanderous it would make it through but obviously some extra moderation is being applied

Last edited by GingerTez; 09-09-2008 at 06:44 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:53 AM   #9
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British booksellers selling ebook readers based on a format available world-wide is like turkeys voting for Christmas.

One sale and then goodnight customer.

I'm just off to Waterstones to buy a 505 as a present. They'll be lucky to see me again this year, either in a shop or on their website. Car-dealers may be able to get away with regarding Britain as 'Treasure Island' where you can charge absurd prices because of the strip of water but ebook sellers can't.

The only faint hope is that the aggressive HMV (the ultimate owners) sales ethos somehow infects Waterstones. Now that would be interesting.
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