In Search of the Sony Reader: AKA “It’s Like a Kindle, but not.”

My time as a test driver of a Sony e-reader for the SmartBitches is nearly at an end. As an added bonus for having pimped out their bling to all our friends and family for the summer, Sony has offered to let us test drivers keep our Readers for a significantly reduced price…or if we prefer, we can get a 10% discount on a purchase of one of the newer models.

I love Miss Scarlett, as I told SBSarah – we have bonded on the treadmill, and in the grocery store line, and in the middle of  the night when I couldn’t sleep. I very well may decide to fork over the dough and keep Miss Scarlett forever; enjoying a HEA of walking and e-book reading into the sunset.

But I am human, after all, and when offered a choice, I want to explore my options. Which is why I have been trying to hunt down a Sony Pocket (the 300) to hold in my hand and play with for awhile. I want to know what I’m giving up – that kind of thing.

Someone on our test driver e-mail loop mentioned Staples had the models in store. So off I go to push the easy button…except when I get there it takes the dudes working there a bit of navel gazing to realize what the hell I’m talking about…finally lighting up as I compare the Sony to a Kindle,  they consult the computer to see if one is in the store (really? you roam these aisles all day…) eventually determining that no, these are not in the store and only on-line. But they print me out a bunch of propaganda on the Pocket and Touch, oh gee, thanks.

Next, I swing by Borders, where one of the Staples dudes swears they are on display. Sure enough, there is a big table covered in Reader boxes and a banner proudly announcing sale of the Pocket and Touch waves above…but the boxes are empty, and aside from various accessories such as carrying cases and adapters – there is nothing for me to fondle. “Ooops,” says the portly employee whom I corner a moment later…”there was a mix-up and we didn’t get the right parts.” Huh? I demand to know if this is going to be a problem at all Borders, or just my home-town one. Mr. Get a Clue seems to think it’ s only a problem here, so I plan to trek to  a few other Borders in a 30 minute radius this weekend.

In the meantime, I swung into my local Best Buy, the husband seemed to remember hearing they had Sony Readers on display there. So I roamed around the store, a walking advertisement for birth control with Lil’ G screaming holy hell in the shopping cart seat because she has decided this week she has better things to do then hang with her Mama, and Miss A jumping on and off the bottom of the cart and randomly touching expensive electronic devices – eventually an employee asks if he can help me find something. When I tell him what I’m looking for, he stares at me blankfaced…he then calls over another lackey, who also stares blankfaced before calling over a third dude. This guy at least acted like he knew what I was talking about, and quickly told me, “Uh…no, we don’t have those in the store.”  Strike 3 Sony – I mean what the hell?

First of all, most of the employees I talked to at STORES THAT SUPPOSEDLY CARRY YOUR PRODUCT didn’t have half a clue as to what I was talking about:

Me: I’m looking for a PRS…Personal Reading System….

Useless Store Tool: Huh?

Me: Like a a Kindle.

Useless Tool: Oooooooh.

What’s the deal Sony? Amazon, who only sells their product on-line, is widely more recognized than your stuff…clearly, you have dropped the marketing ball.

I love my PRS 505 Miss Scarlett – I do. I will more than likely cough up the dough to keep her. I may very well decide I like the Pocket better…but before I kiss $200 goodbye I would like to see what I am buying…but if I have to jump through this many hoops and go on a wild goose chase just to see an item I want to buy…wow, you REALLY need to sell me on it (assuming I ever actually see the product of which I seek).

Like I said, I’ll search out a few other area Borders this weekend, and maybe even see if a Sony Store exists somewhere near me…I’ll get my E-Reader HEA one way or the other…it just won’t be easy.

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