Embracing Technology

3 years ago, I received a Sony eReader as a gift.  If you also follow my Travel Queen blog, you know I am a frequent traveler.  An avid reader, I read books when I travel and I read fast so I go through a lot of material in the course of a trip.

I embraced my digital book as a way to lighten my load.  The ability to carry dozens of books with me in a compact, lightweight format was heaven!

Now the Amazon Kindle,  Barnes & Noble Nook and the iPad  have emerged.  As an early adopter of this technology, I’m both very aware of how it has changed my personal buying habits and how the industry – specifically the retailers – are – and are NOT adapting to these changes.

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, I read yet another article about how Barnes & Noble is putting focus on digital books.  Yet NO ONE is addressing the issues – and the opportunities I see in the rise of digital books.

Issue:  I no longer buy actual paper and ink books.  My digital library of books contains nearly 300 books so I am still reading and still buying – just not actual books and not in bookstores.

I still visit bookstores.  I like to browse bookstores.  However, my eReader has made stores into 3D catalogs for me.  I see books I’d like to read and instead of taking them to the counter, I take a photo of them on my cell phone and buy them later on my home computer from the Sony eReader store.  No one yet offers me a way to buy a ebook for my reader from them while in their store.

A shopper in an airport bookstore read dust jackets and scanned text.  Then pulled out their Kindle and ordered the book from Amazon in Kindle format as they put the actual book back on the shelf!

As a former retailer, I realize this is unfair to the bookstores, but despite all the “focus” on digital books, no retailer has offered me a way to easily buy my ebooks while in their stores.  The end result will no doubt be more and more bookstores going the way of Borders.

The exception to my “no actual books” rule is an author signed book.  The  books in my home fall into this category.  In these situations, I keep and display the signed copy but actually read a digital version.  The purchase of the actual book was part of the experience of meeting a favorite author or to support an author friend such as Tess Hardwick with her new book, Riversong.

Author signings have also been the cornerstone of the Arizona Kidney Foundation annual luncheon since Erma Bombeck started the event over 30 years ago.  My sister and I regularly attend and signed books have been a staple of our holiday gift giving.

At the luncheon last November, the lines  waiting to get their books signed were the shortest we had ever seen.  The reason, so many of their family and friends who they usually buy books for now read only in digital format.  

Those of us in line chatted about solutions such as a gift card showing a picture of the book and author with a blank area for signing and then a code for a prepaid download of the book the recipient could use.  Starbucks offers something similar with their free song downloads.

Technology can radically change any business – even YOUR business.  The younger or more affluent your target customer is, the more likely they will have embraced new technology.  Is there a way your customers would rather buy your goods or services than what you currently offer?  Is there a way for you to adapt your model to meet their needs?  Just as creative minds have designed the new technology – those of us who want to stay in business have to be creative in how to embrace it!

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