Best Buy’s Geek Squad offers a whole litany of services, and now they’re offering to set up your ebook reader for $29.99. While some might balk at paying almost 20% more for an ebook reader+setup, I think this brilliant and could lead to more ebook marketshare.
One of the big obstacles, as I have said before, is simply getting the average person comfortable with ebooks. Turning on a nook or a Kindle and downloading books over the air is relatively easy, but what about adding your own documents? Or if you have a device that supports Adobe DRM, sideloading books? The phrase “sideloading” is foreign to many people, and Adobe Digital Editions can be a huge hassle to set up if you are not computer savvy.
If Sony is smart, they should be working on special deals with Best Buy. Something like, “Buy a Sony Vaio and a Sony Reader, get free Geek Squad setup”. Sony has a major hurdle to overcome with consumers because of their limited 3G options. All their competitors let you use an ebook reader without ever touching a computer, but Sony Readers need a computer and Sony software to really work well. Make that a less intimidating experience with Geek Squad setup and training and you sell more product.
And this service isn’t just learning how to connect a Sony Reader. Simply because you have a device that supports wireless downloads doesn’t mean you may not need a crash course. I once received a phone call from two people who couldn’t figure out where to plug in a Kindle’s charger. They were far from Luddites, they simply never had a tour of the hardware and a “this is how you do x”. If you are tech savvy you don’t need it, but someone who isn’t a computer person may trip over all sorts of issues.
Is it expensive? Sure, but if your objection is “I can figure it out myself” then you aren’t the target audience. This has the opportunity to drive more people to ebooks who may have been intimidated before (and who didn’t have a phone-a-friend to ask for help) and more ebook users is definitely a good thing!