Friday, November 20, 2009


Last week I was excited to try Shortcovers -- I've been reading manuscripts and classics on my Sony eReader for over a year, and now wanted to try to buy new content from a source that made it easy to transfer from device to device. Shortcovers promises this is easy. And let's keep in mind that I am not one to be afraid of technology. But many, many things went wrong:

1. On my way home from The Giller Light, I thought -- "cool, I'll download the winner (The Bishop's Man) to my blackberry and start reading it tonight." No such luck, I searched and searched, and couldn't find the book. #shortcoversfail.

2. The next day I thought, "it's got to be there now," as I searched for The Bishop's Man again. There it was, kudos to Shortcovers for having it up quickly. When I clicked, I got a message that I needed to buy this book. "Sure," I thought, and clicked to buy. I entered my credit card information. "This is not a valid credit card." I did it again. And again. And again. And again. It. Would. Not. Work. #shortcoversfail.

3. Then, Friday as I was tidying up my office, I dusted off my Sony eReader (I haven't been reading a pile of books electronically in the last little while), plugged it in and thought, "okay, I'll buy the books from Shortcovers, dump them on my eReader, and then transfer them to my blackberry." Logon to Shortcovers, buy The Bishop's Man and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, and download them to my Adobe Digital Editions. Adobe Digital Editions says, "here they are!" And I can see the books. Next step, "plug in your reader and it'll automatically recognize it." Nope. I followed all the steps and for the life of me could not get my reader to pick up the Shortcovers content; this might not be their fault -- apparently I might need to update my Sony interface but because I'm at work, I don't have adminstrative capabilities for my laptop, I couldn't do that. #shortcoversfail.

4. Back to my blackberry. Apparently, once you've bought the books they should automatically download onto your phone because they're paid for. No. They don't. Oh, I can get the sample chapters but I've paid for the whole book -- not just the sample chapters. Nothing happened automatically nor was there a single useful "help" section that could be of assistance. Also, there's no phone number, just those annoying email customer service forms. #shortcoversfail.

5. Now, I've got two great books, both I'm dying to read digitally marooned on my laptop at work with no way of getting them anywhere else and feel like I've wasted $25.00. I HATE wasting $25.00. And what's worse -- I want the content, I want to be able to read it in both places, I want it to work. #shortcoversfail.

Anyone have any suggestions?


Craig Riggs said...

I had the same experience. I wish I could offer a reliable fix but in my case the problem resolved itself over time. I bought a book, downloaded and opened in ADE on my laptop but I could only see the sample chapter on my iPhone. A day later--with no intervention from me--the book magically appeared on my phone. My conclusions at the time: (1) shortcovers device syncing is not so bulletproof and (2) there may be a lag in syncing across devices.

Michael Tamblyn said...

Hi -- I work for Shortcovers and really want to get this fixed and have you reading as soon as humanly possible. Very sorry about the problems you've been having. Could you do me a huge favour and send everything you've written above to "help at shortcovers dot com"? Then we can get a bit more info from you and our support folks can figure out why you've been getting hit with all these issues. Totally understand why you might be ready to give us a swift kick, but we'd love the chance to make it right.

Michael Tamblyn
VP Content, Sales & Merchandising

Unknown said...

Hi Deanna,
I'm sorry you had such a poor experience.

Let me try to address your comments one by one:

1. Our search isn't as good as it could be. It will be better - we have a much improved one ready to go that we will be releasing in the next two weeks. That should make it easier to find products. We are also building a proper Browse onto the website (which we have on the mobile apps already) to make it easier to find content without Browsing.

2. I can't speak specifically to why your credit card didn't work, though it did seem like you were able to get it working as you purchased the books later. Did you change something about how you were entering your card or did it just 'start working' after a while?

3. Which version of the Sony reader do you have? The PRS-505 and newer ones will work, but the older versions than that don't support ePub. If you were one of the early adopters of the PRS-505, you need to upgrade your firmware and install the new Sony software to get ePub to work.

4. We should be better at synchronizing the lists. We are walking a fine line between using little network connectivity and keeping things up to date, and probably are erring a little too much on the network side. If you purchase on the BB it will show up immediately, but if you buy on web and read on mobile, there is a lag.

There is a manual method to force an update - on the Blackberry, press the Blackberry menu key, and select 'Refresh List'. That should download your correct I'm Reading List.

5. The steps above should help resolve your problems. If you have any further issues, our support team is now available 24/7 at, and they can help with exactly these kinds of problems.

I'm sorry you had such a poor experience with our apps, but thank you very much for the feedback and taking the time to write this post. We are working every day to improve our applications and experience and this kind of feedback is invaluable in improve our apps.

Jordan Christensen
Product Manager, Shortcovers

Deanna McFadden said...

Re: #2 -- the credit card wasn't accepted when I did it via Blackberry. When I used the web app, it was accepted. That's why I thought if I downloaded a book via BB app AFTER my credit card information was there, the book (Eating Animals) would automatically appear. No such luck.

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