First of all, I’ve got a plug, for the good folks at DriveThruFiction are currently offering the Read and Feed America 2013 charity bundle, which collects more than thirty e-books from various, including my own Countdown to Death. You get e-books with a total retail price of 175.80 USD for a donation of 20 USD and all the proceeds go to Feeding America. It’s a great deal and it’s only available until October 20, so donate now and get plenty of good books to read.
And now for some Kindle spotting in the… – well, it’s not quite the wild, more like one of those enclosed preserves for wild animals.
Yesterday, I found myself at a Media Markt store here in Bremen. For those who don’t know the company, Media Markt (like competitor Saturn) is a chain of big box electronics stores in Germany as well as throughout Europe as well as Turkey and China. Here in Germany, both chains are known for rather crude and in your face advertising. They are also the place where Germans buy consumer electronics from washing machines to computers, because they are ubiquitous, offer a huge selection and are usually the cheapest option. There are specialised stores for household electronics such as refrigerators and washing machines and some electronics stores aimed at the DIY enthusiast such as Atelco (mainly computers and components) and Conrad (electronics and modelmaking supplies). But most Germans head for Media Markt or Saturn, when they want something with a plug or something that runs on something with a plug (i.e. games, DVDs, CDs, Blu-Rays, etc…), because the selection is big, the prices are good and it’s a good place to get an overview, even if you eventually wind up buying somewhere else.
On the other hand, snazzy boutique stores focussing only on products by a single manufacturer such as Apple Stores or Microsoft Stores are comparatively rare in Germany, because why would you go to a small store that only offers products of one manufacturer, when you could go to Media Markt and compare products by various manufacturers? Bremen actually has an Apple Store at the Waterfront Mall. It is usually empty compared to the Media Markt at the same mall.
Since they are a consumer electronics store, Media Markt also carries e-readers. Last year, I bought my Kobo Glo at that very Media Markt, straight from the pallet, too. They also carry Sony readers, Trekstor readers and a couple of smaller manufacturers. The one thing Media Markt did not offer, however, were Kindles. Until fairly recently, you could only get Kindles in Germany at Amazon or Staples. And Staples‘ selection was severely limited (only the basic Kindle and maybe a Kindle Touch) and mostly they didn’t work, either. If you actually wanted to try an e-reader before you bought it, which is what I prefer to do, you were out of luck with the Kindle.
I’ve always said that Amazon was making a mistake in not selling the Kindle where many Germans buy electronics, at big box stores like Media Markt or Saturn. I understand that Amazon probably regards those stores as competitors. Quite often, when looking to buy consumer electronics, I went to Media Markt or Saturn for an overview. Once I had decided on a specific product, I checked Amazon whether the price was lower. To date it never was. Quite often, the selection was smaller as well, even though this is Amazon, the store that supposedly has anything.
So when I found myself at Media Markt yesterday, I checked the e-reader display out of interest, even though I’m not actually in the market for a new e-reader at the moment (I’m quite happy with my Kobo, thanks). And lo and behold, there among the Kobo and Sony and Trekstor readers were Kindles. So far, I only spotted the basic Kindle model, but it’s a start.
Talking of e-readers, I also spotted the German Kindle competitor tolino. However, I didn’t spot the tolino at Media Markt, but at Thalia, one of the partners in the tolino alliance. Coincidentally, another partner, German Telekom, is not offering or even advertising tolino in its stores. Interesting that. Now I think that the tolino marketing strategy is selling the e-reader in the same place where people would go to buy books, i.e. their local bookstore, whether it’s Thalia, Weltbild, Der Club or something else. It’s not a bad strategy, especially since plenty of people, particularly older people, vehemently dislike the big box electronics stores with their brash and loud marketing. I know that plenty of people hated Saturn‘s long-time slogan “Geiz ist geil” (“Stinginess is great”) and complained about the “Geiz ist geil” mentality. And Media Markt‘s marketing campaigns with slogans such as “Ich bin doch nicht blöd” (I’m not stupid) and some of their marketing gimmicks (they just ran a “going out of business” sale for a two day closure over a holiday, followed by a “grand opening” sale) annoy a lot of people. Hey, they annoy me at times, though I have no issues with going to Media Markt, even if I don’t much care for their advertising, marketing, layout, etc… So I think that tolino is losing out by sticking only to bookstores and not offering their reader at Media Markt or Saturn. Because like them or not, a lot of people buy at those stores.