Thanks to the competitive impact of Apple’s iPad, it’s now shaping up to be a buyers’ market for e-readers, this according to a report in The Wall Street Journal (‘Price Cuts Electrify E-Reader Market’, WSJ, 06-22-2010). On Monday, Barnes & Noble reduced the price of its Nook reader to $199 and introduced a $149 Wi-Fi only model followed by Amazon reducing the price of its Kindle e-reader to $189.
So is a price war on? Will prices go even lower? These questions remain unanswered at this point, but the development is obviously good news for first-time purchasers. One could surmise that e-readers were overpriced to begin with and now market forces – in the form of simple good old competition brought about by the iPad – is working its magic to bring prices down. For Amazon and for publishers who are marketing their e-products via the e-tailer the price reduction of e-readers represent mixed news.
Clearly, Amazon’s earlier strategy of deliberately depressing ebook prices as a loss leader for Kindle sales will have to be rethought. My hunch is that e-book prices on Amazon will likely tend to rise to offset the loss of revenue from the reduction in unit price of the Kindle and the reduction in overall unit sales brought about by competition from Nook and iPad. Increased e-book prices may not be good news for consumers, but it would represent very welcome news to publishers and authors. My hunch also is that downward pressure on e-reader prices is only likely to continue along the lines of the PC pricing model characterized by introduction of new and improved products at ever lower prices.
On the other end of the proprietary e-reader technology vs. open source debate, there’s Google waiting in the wings to launch its platform independent e-content service Google Editions. My money is on the development of an open-source standard represented by Google Editions. Compensation is fair for both publishers and authors for e-content and the lack of proprietary e-reader barriers is poised for who-knows-what kind of digital developments that are just around the corner. Fairness in compensation and market visibility are the two reasons DYSTENIUM LLC – Publishing for The Third Millennium™ is a proud charter participant in Google Editions, because the combination of open source and search engine capability is unmatched by proprietary e-reader suppliers.