I love paper books, as my overflowing bookshelves will attest. But I also have two eReaders (for Kindle and Kobo) and the feature I love best is their ability to let me read a preview before deciding to buy a book.

It’s the equivalent of scanning the first page or two in the bookshop, but with the benefit of offering the choice of Kindle and Kobo’s enormous libraries – both vastly larger than the stock of most bookshops.

I bought a book last week without first reading the preview and very quickly regretted it – after about three pages all I’d got was some semi-naked men (it was a paranormal, and we all know how little werewolves like wearing shirts!) standing around and posturing. I could have saved myself the bother if I’d just started with the preview instead of rushing into an unwary purchase.

The only thing I don’t like about previews is that they appear to grant a licence to the provider to nag me afterwards. If I read a preview and like it, I’ll buy the book, don’t worry about that (occasionally, to be fair, I’ve read an eReader preview and then bought the paperback, which I suppose Kindle and Kobo could be aggrieved about, like Waterstones objecting to providing a browsing experience for shoppers who then buy online), but if I’ve decided I don’t want the book after all, the last thing I want is e-mails reminding me that I can buy it with “just one click.” To go back to the bookshop comparisons, this would be like a bookshop employee picking out the book I’ve just slotted back onto its shelf and wandering around the store at my heels asking, Am I sure I wouldn’t like to buy it? Really? But I liked it enough to pick it up, didn’t I?

What would be really useful is to send me a mail saying, “It seems this wasn’t quite what you were looking for, but if you’re interested in this genre/style, why not try X, Y or Z?”

I guess this happens to a degree in the marketing mails I get, so maybe it’s just a change of emphasis – rather than, “Readers who liked this also liked…” maybe they should try, “Readers who put this one back chose to buy X, Y and Z instead.”

Inspired marketing, or lunatic idea – any opinions?


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