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I learned an important lesson today about attracting readers who are new to e-devices: marketing matters. Case in point: A co-worker who came in this morning, and proudly told me she’d bought one of those “e-book things” over the weekend. Which one? The Kobo Arc!

I guess that I, with my gadget-loving background, had forgotten that this was supposed to be the Arc’s intended purpose. It looked, to me, like a somewhat cheaper version of the Nexus tablet, which I saw as more of a computer than a reader. But consider this newbie consumer’s point of view: It’s sold in the bookstore, by the major book chain, and is pre-installed with books and book software. So it’s a book reader, right?

She then explained that she’d looked at all the different Kobo models available, and was considering the Glo as well. But then she figured she may as well pay a little more and get “the other stuff,” too—she’s interested in watching movies on the go while traveling, for instance, and in having a device she can use to check her email and do basic web browsing while on vacation.

It just goes to show how effectively marketing can work when you’re attracting a new customer. I view the Arc primarily as a tablet that can also read. But it was sold to her as a reader that can also play movies and browse the Web. Its place of pride in a bookstore display—not an electronics chain—and its reading-based custom UI were meant to target just this type of customer, and it did so.

So I guess when all is said and done, the semantics don’t matter much. Is the Arc a reader that also tablets, or a tablet that reads? That’s not important. The important part is, this customer was looking for a certain type of experience, and she thinks she’s found it. She’s excited about her new device, and will probably use it exactly as its makers intended: to buy books from the Kobo store, and to consume Netflix and Youtube and other easy-to-find content. Old pros like me may haggle over specs or features, but we should never forget that with the newbie, marketing does matter. If you sell the consumer an experience and it’s the experience they want to have, you’ll have a customer.

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