Clearly, Best Buy doesn’t know what to do with all those e-readers that it plans to stock, because they’ll soon be thrown into a section that contains electronic Rubik’s Cubes, digital pens and — wait for it — Sharper Image products.
Dealerscope reports that Best Buy’s creating a new retail section called “Gadgets and eReaders,” located near the movies and music, and will soon launch a corresponding page on its Web site. Along with Sony’s Reader Daily and Touch Editions and the new iRex e-reader, you’ll find the Livescribe Smartpen and the Rubik’s Touchcube, among other things.
I understand where Best Buy is coming from. E-readers are hard to categorize. They’re not quite tablet computers, nor are they full-blown media players. They are their own category, but right now there just aren’t enough e-readers (or enough interest in them) to warrant a dedicated section of the store.
But lumping e-readers in with “Funky Gadgets You Don’t Need” (my terminology, not Best Buy’s) isn’t really the best way to foster market growth. Granted, someone who’s going to Best Buy with the intent of buying an e-reader won’t care where it’s located as long as it can be found, but to the casual shopper, e-readers’ placement in an obscure gadget section is just going to make them seem frivolous.
What to do then? Put the e-readers near the iPods and Zunes. After all, e-readers are high end entertainment devices, and they share some common features with media players, such as wireless connectivity, digital content and, in some cases, touch screens. Sony’s Reader Touch Edition can even play music.
The gimmicky gadgets can have their own section, but Best Buy should think a little harder about which devices earn the dubious distinction.