Last week, Barnes & Noble revealed a wifi-only version of their nook ebook reader for “only” $150, and dropped their high-end model to $200. Naturally, Amazon retaliated this week by dropping their Kindle2 to $190. Update: Now Borders has kicked in a $20 gift card for people buying their Kobo Reader.
Is this the beginning of the price war that finally makes dedicated ebook readers affordable? I know, the manufacturers currently think “under $200” is affordable, but let’s be honest – it’s a niche. When I can buy a paperback book for 8 bucks, or buy the same book as an ebook for 8 bucks, which one am I going to get? For most of us, the answer is obvious. It would be nice to carry around dozens or hundreds of books in a convenient reader for those times when I find myself looking at the dated magazines of a waiting room, but I’m not dropping $200 for what is essentially the interface to a lending library. Those books on the Kindle and nook aren’t really mine. I can’t sell them, give them away, loan them to people (with very limited caveats dealing with an ecosystem of other ereaders which doesn’t exist), etc. Not to mention, if I’m at the beach with a paperback and something catastrophic happens, I’m out 8 bucks, not 200.
What price do ebook readers need to reach before you’d buy one?