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I was in Target yesterday and looked for (and found) the Sony 505 display. It actually made me sort of sad. While it was a decent sized display, on an endcap, the Sony was bolted to a holder and couldn't be moved. It was an actual device but it couldn't be turned on so I couldn't see what it looked like changing pages, nor could I play with any of its features. There were hardly any salespeople around and the few that were there were busy selling Wii systems and Nintendo DSs. I really doubt that they could have effectively answered any of my questions about the Sony, even if I got their attention.

I think there are two hurdles that must be overcome with selling an ereader: 1) persuading someone that they would like reading a book on an electronic device; and 2) figuring out which electronic device they want. Number one is the bigger barrier since many people are deadset against ereaders (as we know). Unfortunately, the display at Target would do very little to addressing issue no. 1 and thus, people might never get to issue no. 2.

People have suggested, in various discussion groups, that Amazon should try to sell the Kindle in brick & mortar stores. I have never thought that was a good idea but after seeing the pathetic display yesterday, I am even more convinced that that would be the wrong approach. I think their strategy of providing info at their website, encouraging informal user demos, and forums like this where people can ask questions and get them answered are much more effective.

Thoughts?

L

PS, Writing this has given me an idea for a poll, which I will put together and post in another thread.
 

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I've been to 3 targets and all 3 's Sony e-readers didn't work plus none of the sales people could be bother answering any questions.
 

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I saw one at sams.  It was working and I could play around with the books installed. I got really excited again for my kindle to arrive after playing with it.  the wireless d/l and amazon books sold me on the kindle over the sony.  It was also bolted so I couldn't hold it to get the feel of it.  I understand needing the security of the bolting, but I've seen kids toys (leapfrog) stuff attached so you could hold it to see the feel.
 
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You bring up some good points and if someone in marketing Kindles were to read it, it would make them aware of the many pit falls they need to avoid.

If a Kindle was ever put on display to the public, it would have to be done in a way that would allow prospective customers to handle it.  Kindles are meant to be held and manipulated.  Put the product in their hands.

Once they have it in their hands, the device needs to be functional.  The product display should show the prospective customer how to do the basic things  Kindle can do.  The prospect should get a good understanding of what a Kindle is, what it can do, and why it's better than it's competitors.

There should be at least one person on duty on each shift that knows what a Kindle is and how to demonstrate it properly.  Their primary duty is to take care of the Kindle display.  Keep the Kindle clean and functioning.

Spending $359.00 on an unseen, unknown device is a very big leap of faith for people.  Some people have a hard time doing that.  I think more Kindles would be sold if people could actually see one first.
 

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I've seen the Sony 505 in my Target, and the display does work, so I played around with it. I like the Kindle better.

I've also seen a 505 display in a Borders at the airport, and that also worked.

But then I saw the 700 in a Borders, and that briefly made me want to trade in my Kindle. I mean come on, it has a touch screen!

I think Amazon would benefit from selling in physical stores. Especially in airports, with all those bored people. Of course they won't, since that's the point of Amazon, and it seems like they are doing just fine anyway.
 

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My husband bought his at Borders.  They had one on display, all locked up.  When we asked about it a very knowledgeable and helpful person unlocked it and started it up for us to play with.  One went home with us.
 

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I demo'ed Little Gertie at a doctors office and the woman asked where she could get one.  When I told her, she said, "What's Amazon."  She didn't even own a computer.  I think that's a very isolated case. 

I agree it would have been nice to hold one in my hands before I purchased, but it obviously wasn't a deal breaker for me.  There's no trouble finding it because the Kindle comes up on the first Amazon screen and there are links to reviews and videos.  Amazon gets plenty of hits every day, and the constant Kindle photos have got to be getting some people to buy.  If you're on Amazon, you see the Kindle.  If you go to Target, you might not necessarily see the Sony. 
 

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I agree that a lot of prospective customers want to handle the device.  When I got mine I took it into the office.  Two people asked if they could see it.  Their first words were, wow it's so easy to hold and light.  Then they started commenting on the screen.  Both of them ordered a Kindle almost immediately after holding mine.

They both said they wanted to see one before buying.

Chris
 

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I had a friend tell me they saw the Sony at target (this was all before Christmas) and next time I went I looked around for it. The one sales person I found (granted it was the holidays) didn't know what I was talking about, though I think he was just covering the department for that shift. DH found it on an end cap. It has now been moved into an isle.

Just another target Sony ereader story.

LSbookend
 

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Every Sony I have seen on display in a store was nonfunctional. I each case (3 times) there was no one around that could show me how it worked or answer questions. I found out all I needed to know about the Kindle by researching on the internet, through the Amazon forums (for 2 days only) and KindleBoards. If I had seen a Kindle in a store with the same results as the Sony, I would not have bought one.
 

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Many people here on KB think that avid readers spend a lot of time on Amazon (because most of us do) and if that person wants an eReader, they will do their research and find the Kindle.  But that isn't necessarily true.  Many people get their books from bookstores stores, garage sales, and libraries.  They may not be familiar with an eReader.  And there is a good chance the casual reader is also not familiar with eReaders.  Having a display in a store is a huge marketing tool; sales can be generated from the impulse buyer, people who don't shop online (and there are still a lot of them), people who don't do extensive research, people who want the instant gratification of going home with their purchase, and the advantage of being able to see/touch the product.  

I don't think Amazon could easily start selling in Brick-N-Mortar stores.  They would have to work with the retailer to create displays, their inventory model would need to change, and their distribution model would need to change.  They don't do any of these things now and it would be a huge change for the company.  

Target's electronics department produces huges sales and I'm sure there are quit a few Sony eReaders going out the door just because they can be bought at Target.  (the Sony was functional at my Target store).  We've heard many stories here on KB that a demo does encourage a sale.  

 

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I was just at the Apple Store and they have all of their products tethered to the desk but there is more then enough room for you to pick them up, use them a bit, and get a feel for them. I don't get why Sony has not used this method as opposed the the locked in approach.
 

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ProfCrash said:
I was just at the Apple Store and they have all of their products tethered to the desk but there is more then enough room for you to pick them up, use them a bit, and get a feel for them. I don't get why Sony has not used this method as opposed the the locked in approach.
I would guess that in the small Apple stores, a salesperson can easily keep an eye on the product. When you get to the larger stores like Target or Sam's Club, there is no way an employee can watch the product and you would be surprised how careless and downright destructive some people can be.
 

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I don't think they would sell well at a box store without somebody showing them how to use it.  I personally think they would sell very well  on QVC.  Jeff Bezos could go on there just like he did with Oprah and people would buy it.  I think QVC is the #1 electronic retailer and I think it's because they demo the products with a company rep who knows the product well. 
 
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The Amazing Amazon Kindle! It slices, it dices, it does Julianne fries! It's is completely self cleaning and self lubricating!
 

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I like to do my research before buying any electronics. I will buy something if it has great reviews even if I haven't held one in hand. What sold me on the Kindle is the wireless download.

I did see the Sony at Target, but the salepeople couldn't tell me anything about it. If they can't sell me on it, I'm not buying it. Amazon does a great job on their site selling their products. KB helps a lot too.
 

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I saw the Sony at boarders. I always purchased books at boarders and have their card and cc. ::) anyway this was when it first came out. I went to check it out in person and asked all kinds of questions and he was knowledgeable about them. they said I would get 100 books free. I had also read about the kindle on Amazon. The reason I didn't buy it was that I couldn't see spending 9.99 for each book when I could get them for about $6.00. I always bought paperback and did the by so many get 1 free ;D

However, this past October I started thinking about ereaders again so I checked out the Sony reader again. I talked to someone at a different boards to ask if they new the difference between it and the kindle. The guy at the store did not like the Sony, said they could never keep one in the store that worked.

Went and read more about the kindle on the amazon board and the idea of wispernet got me and I purchased it site unseen. It just grabbed me and sucked me in unlike the Sony. Then after purchase I was feeling buyers remorse - worry - it was 3 weeks to shipping so I started reading the amazon board again. The people weren't nice and then there was a thread about this Leslie person spamming the boards with Kindleboards address. I read the thread and saw what they thought was spam. LoL they didn't know what spam was so I decided to come here. The rest is history,,,, Kindle site unseen was the best purchase I made, even over my ipod and The complete Stargate Series <gggggg>

theresam
 

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This is a very interesting thread. I have seen the Sony models at Border's and they were very accommodating. I got to play with it as much as I wanted.

That said, I am finding that I am doing an increasing amount of my shopping online, mostly at Amazon. I am less and less concerned about seeing a product first, largely because the information available online tends to be better than in the store and Amazon has such a great return system. It is easier than taking an item back to a store.

I suspect that bricks and mortar displays might help sell a few more units, especially for those considering the Sony models. I think long term, Amazon has the model right. I notice that in my building (a highrise with 1000 residents), the large mailroom is overflowing every afternoon with UPS boxes from Amazon.
 

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I just realized another example. The only time I go to my local supermarket is to use the CoinStar machine to get Amazon certificates. I then go home and order my groceries on Amazon (I go to specialty shops for fresh veggies, diary, etc.).
 

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I played with the Sony at my Target. I couldn't really hold it myself, but I was able to read a few pages, flip back and forth. I liked it. But what turned me off were the sony cards for books. Sony is not a book retailer. I didn't think their selection would be as good as Amazon's, and the other great Kindle advantage was the whispernet. I wanted that.

Also, I have called Sony CS once for a problem with a portable DVD player and it was HORRIBLE. They didn't help at all. Haven't bought anything Sony since.
 
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