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:
Pocket Edition: From $169 to $149
Touch Edition: From $199 to $169
Daily Edition: From $349 to $299
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:
-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?