Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

July 5, 2010 • eBooks, News

Falling eBook Reader Prices!

Think Amazon and Barnes and Noble are the only ones slashing prices? Well, it looks like a few players in the ebook market have caught up with the new paradigm, though it’s debatable what changes will actually help them. Here’s a few of the big drops we’ve seen so far:

Sony Readers:
Pocket Edition: From $169 to $149
Touch Edition: From $199 to $169
Daily Edition: From $349 to $299

Pocketbook Series:
Pocketbook 360: From $239 to $199
Pocketbook 301: From $279 to $219
Pocketbook 302: From $339 to $279

Just for comparison, again, here are the prices on the B&N nook:
Nook 3G: From $279 to $199
Nook WiFi: $149

And the Amazon Kindle:
Kindle 2: From $279 to $189
Kindle DX: From $489 to $379

Pop Quiz: Which of the devices above offer the following:
-Free 3G?
-Other wireless access?
-Built in ebookstore?
-Companion smartphone apps?

If you answered nook and Kindle to all four, you win! The next closest would be the Sony Daily Edition, with its free 3G. Interestingly, the best deals on this list are also the nook and the Kindle. Why would you pay $299 for the Sony Daily Edition when a nook or a Kindle is going to offer you a larger ecosystem? For less money! And the non-wireless readers are still horribly overpriced in comparison, since even the cheapest (the Sony Pocket Edition) is hopelessly outclassed by the nook WiFi at the same price point.

The recent price gyrations in the ebook market are likely to continue if this is how the competition responds! Nate over at The Digital Reader said he believes Sony could wind up dropping out of ebooks entirely, and I have to agree. They missed the mark horribly, and it has to be an embarrassment to the company. They were first to market with a major ebook reader, but then couldn’t seem to improve it or innovate enough to attract a real audience. Supposedly, “a rising tide lifts all boats” and Sony should have seen some major success with the interest Amazon generated with the Kindle. Instead they squandered their advantage by being late to market with a wireless version, with their anemic ebook store setup and selection, and sky-high prices. Right now, the ebook market isn’t a high-price one; the iPad and the price wars between B&N and Amazon have created an environment where ebook readers occupy a lower point. It’s not a bad thing, but Sony is loath to do anything at a lower price, and I think they’re likely to walk first.

Pocketbook is a weird one. They’re well-known in the ebook enthusiast market, but aren’t really big outside of that niche. They certainly don’t have the major retail presence of a Sony, a B&N or an Amazon. However, that could also work to their advantage. If they’re hanging on as a niche player, and they can survive lower margins, then we might not seem them disappear so fast. They were clearly finding buyers when their products were 20% higher, so there’s always the chance their audience will respond well to lower prices and continue to follow them. There are other issues with being a niche player in the ebook market (which is something I’m saving for a future post) but for now they may just be ok.

What’s your take on the ebook market? Have Amazon and B&N set the bar that all other devices should stay below, or does the market have room for higher prices?

Sony and Pocketbook price drop news via The Digital Reader

16 Responses to " Falling eBook Reader Prices! "

  1. I had only heard of PocketBook in passing and fail to see how a non-wireless reader without a serious e-store presence has any hopes of anything BUT failure!?!

    As for Sony, my regard for them has dropped considerably: they have absolutely no problem using customers as channels to upsell other products. Of course, *every* company does that, but Sony does it by treating customers like 2nd class citizens and charging the same for less content and then saying ‘want the full thing’, upgrade to THIS. Um … no.

  2. Sony cuts e-reader prices: Pocket Edition now $149 | Gadgetorium! says:

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  5. arebelspy says:

    I like Sony due to the size. WTF do I need a keyboard for on my book?

    Also, I would love to win a copy of Air Display.

  6. Haesslich says:

    Sony’s nice, but… well, they were overpriced for a long, long time. And now they’re dropping prices, it’s about the right time to do it – but I’m wondering if they’ve done so in time to save themselves, especially given all the restrictions in place with the Sony Reader Store.

    That, and the way their readers handle ePub files are atrocious. On top of the lack of support (I think they’ve only given like one firmware upgrade EVER for the newer PRS-300/600 series, and maybe two upgrades for the PRS-500/505, counting the one that requires you to ship in the device to upgrade, for ePub support). The only time they seem to patch is to stop piracy, unlike Amazon or even the B&N Nook which upgrade now and again (more frequently than Sony, anyways) to add features, or fix niggling minor issues.

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