Borders Begins To Fix Its eCommerce!

Update, Monday October 11, 2010: the missing “download ePub” buttons have appeared! And a bit about Gift Cards. See in post.

I raked Borders over the coals in a prior post: Borders FAILs eCommerce 101!

And because I am mean, I follow-up on things.

Well, they shocked me! After screaming tweeting them again about this earlier in the week, I find out today they’ve changed it!

See the proof after the break.

Here’s the Borders desktop app downloading and syncing the free Diana Gabaldon book, Outlander:


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The last time I tried this with another book, the system demanded a credit card from me!

And here’s the book in my library of the desktop app, next to a free Star Wars one I downloaded minutes before it:


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This is a great start — but only that. There are still problems.

Oddly, I couldn’t find the free Gabaldon book above on the Borders website itself. This is bad — because it’s the website that provides the ePub versions of books. Right now, I have only the Kobo/Borders Desktop SQLite version, not the ePub.

And when I used the website itself to try to get a free eBook, I got this sadness:


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I wanted it to Add it to my Library. This means I could then launch the Kobo/Borders app, hit Update Library, and it would download. But also, there’s not even a Download link on that page for the ePub version.

Someone else tried that today and also got an error message for another book.

And I didn’t want to do this post without making sure all of this wasn’t some sort of fluke, so I tried it again. I Added this book to my Library:


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Then I hit Update Library in the Desktop app and it began to download but got stuck at the halfway point:


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So I canceled that and hit Update Library again and it worked:


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But I want to repeat that second book’s listing:


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Again, there is no link there to download the ePub!

So, I investigated further. It looks like only some eBooks have corresponding ePub downloads. And to get the link for those, from the Borders website itself, you must go to Your Account (which will usually ask you to sign in again) and then in the right sidebar, click on My eBook Library (which will ask you to sign yet again — this is very, very annoying).

This is what mine shows right now:


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Notice that only one of the four has a Download ePub button. What’s up with that? To further confuse things, in the right sidebar, it says:

open eBook button
Use the “open eBook” button to read that eBook with the Borders Desktop App on your computer, or to sync your Borders eBook Library with your eReader device.

I don’t understand that. Will it automagically download and sync an ePub to, say, a Sony Reader? Some clarification is necessary there.

By the way, I downloaded the ePub for that book and it opened fine in Adobe Digital Editions (as it should).

Update:

The missing “download ePub” buttons are now there:


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In addition, in Comments here, Sameer Hasan of Kobo Books says:

Hey Mike, try hooking up a Sony or Nook to your computer while you have the borders desktop open. once you sync, it should pull down the ePub version of the book on to your 3rd party device.

Thing is, now that iOS devices can use “classic” Adobe DRMed ePub, that syncing method might not work. I think the ePub file must reside on the desktop and be imported into iTunes for Bluefire Reader. Now that the “download ePub” buttons have appeared, this is no longer much of a concern. Thanks, Borders!

Now here is where things seem to get very, very interesting! That last eBook I downloaded? Borders was offering it for free. And all this time I thought Borders eBookstore was nothing but Kobo Books with a Borders branding on it.

That might not be the case. Because here’s that last eBook listed at Kobo — and it’s not free!


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If this is going to be how things will operate from now on, our choice in eBooks has just gotten bigger — at least in terms of promo freebies.

In sum, I am glad that Borders is listening. I hope it won’t be too long before I can stop in one of their stores, buy a Gift Card, and then buy and download ePubs. That would be Win!

Update: Borders via Twitter says Gift Cards can be used, but so far I’m not seeing a straightforward way to do that. It seems to me a person should be able to go into “My Account” and click on a “Use Gift Card” or “Add Gift Card Value” link. This would transfer the value to the account from which it can be deducted later while purchasing. Once Borders has made their method clear to me, I’ll update here and/or do a separate post if needed.

Update: See HowTo: Buy Borders eBooks With A Gift Card

4 Comments

Filed under Bookstores

4 responses to “Borders Begins To Fix Its eCommerce!

  1. Hey Mike, try hooking up a Sony or Nook to your computer while you have the borders desktop open. once you sync, it should pull down the ePub version of the book on to your 3rd party device.

    Let me know if you have problems.

    • Also should work with Aluratek and a few other eReaders.

    • mikecane

      That still doesn’t account for the mystery of the missing ePub download button. I don’t think that syncing would work with, for example, an iOS device. iOS can now use the “classic” Adobe DRMed ePub via Bluefire Reader now. So, the file itself needs to be pulled down to the desktop itself for that.

      UPDATE: Since I typed that Reply, I’ve updated the post with new info.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Borders Begins To Fix Its eCommerce! « Mike Cane's xBlog -- Topsy.com

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