Earlier this week, I stopped by the FNAC on my way home from work to see if there were any eBook readers on sale. I didn’t have much time to browse, but I didn’t find anything on display in any of the likely places. This evening, I dropped into Payot, the leading bookstore in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Nothing on display there either, so I went up to one of information desks to find out if they had anything to say about eBooks.
I started by asking if they had any eBook readers and was told no. So I asked if they knew if there were any plans or information about when they’d be available. I was told that there were plans, but nothing definite yet. The person I spoke with said the catalog of available books is not large enough yet for Switzerland, and Payot thinks the offer is not mature enough for the market.
While it is true that Switzerland is a complex market because there are at least 4 languages to support, I mentioned having already seen interesting developments in France. At this I was told that there was a person appointed to study it, and they are watching it closely.
So there it is. Switzerland’s largest French-language bookstore chain doesn’t have an eReader or even a story about an eReader.
A quick look online showed me that the FNAC has a few models available: the Sony PRS-350 and 650 and recent additions the Bookeen Orizon and something called the MP Man Color Book 7, which I’ve never heard of. Prices range from 150-350CHF (about $115-265). In a recent post, Xavier Studer wrote a nice piece on the TSR telecoms blog (Google translate link here) describing the long, complex procedure required to actually purchase a book to read on an eReader compatible with the Adobe DRM used by the Swiss eBook platform e-readers.ch.
Kindle is available in Switzerland and seems like it would be a much easier option. I haven’t checked out Amazon’s Kindle catalog for Switzerland, but I understand it has mostly English-language titles. That’s fine for me, but probably not for native French, German, Italian or Romansch speakers. The iBookstore on the iPad should be the ideal solution since Apple products are insanely popular here, but strangely the iBookstore is empty of titles to purchase. It remains filled only with public domain books from Project Gutenberg.
Switzerland was one of the first European countries to which printing spread after its invention in Germany. The first press was founded in 1465. It seems the eBook revolution will take some more time.