I had a bit of a technology shock the other day. I was telling the Beloved about Kindle Match, the latest customer-grabber from Amazon, where you can get ebook copies of some of your past purchases on the cheap, and instead of debating with interest as he usually does, he shrugged and went back to his baseball podcast. ‘I don’t have an Amazon account,’ he told me.
I was stunned. Okay, so he was late to the ebook game—he didn’t get an ebook reader until he started dating me (indeed the purchase of this reader was our first date!) But surely, being with me as he has been, some of my e-savvy has rubbed off on him, right? Or…wrong?
I guess I forget, being so immersed in the tech world sometimes (in addition to my Teleread responsibilities, I am also the technology team lead at school) that I am the outlier, not him. And not most people, actually. Even the ones I know who have the Kindles or the Kobos or what have you don’t go out and read blogs about them. The Americans have the Kindle or Nook because those are common there, the Canadians have the Kobo because those are common here.
And most people are quite happy, for the most part, to stay in the little walled garden their reader comes with. They buy from the Kobo or Kindle or Nook store because it’s right there on the reader. The more advanced types will figure out how to sync their last location to their phone, or how to sideload a library book and they’ll think they are the upper-tier user. Facts of life I take for granted because I do these things for me, and I do these things for him or for my mother or for whomever else has hitched their wagon to my particular tech caravan are not necessarily facts of life for everyone.
It’s a wake-up call that’s worth remembering because some of the changes I want to see in the marketplace, such as the phasing out of DRM, probably won’t happen until we reach a certain critical mass out there, of people who both understand the issue and share the concern. Most people who read blogs like this and frequent forums devoted to such issues get it. But the Everyman ebook customer out there probably does not. The Beloved has not visited the Kobo website once since he got an Android tablet and most of his reading is via Feedly these days (and the rare book I email onto his Nexus via the Kindle send to device feature). And he’s never even bothered to set up an Amazon account in the first place! What concern could someone like him possibly muster for some of the deeper ‘how the marketplace works’ issues?
We have to remember that we’re still the rare breed here. And that means we might have to be a little more patient before we get the marketplace that we want.