E-book readers to stay pricey next year
Won't hit $100 for ages, says screen supplier
Holding out for a £100 e-book reader before snapping up one of these gadgets for yourself? You may get lucky this year, but don't expect prices to fall any further.
Scott Liu, head of screen maker PVI - the Taiwanese firm that recently bought e-ink pioneer E Ink - forecast today that readers will not drop to hit the $100 (£61/€67) mark in 2010.
The reason: the market's too new and there's just too little competition between e-book reader manufacturers, he said, according to a report by DigiTimes.
In such circumstances, there's little motivation for vendors to slash prices, he said. The upshot: prices will remain around the £200-250 mark for some tome to come. ®
>there's little motivation for vendors to slash prices, he said. The upshot: prices will remain around the £200-250 mark for some tome to come<
The upshot: you'll never achieve mass market. Let's face it, it's a one trick pony and whilst it does that very well, the only people who are paying that are voracious readers who tend, in general, to be of good intelligence and won't like restrictions on what they can read.
Hit the magic £49.99 mark, be able to read .lit .pub .txt .htm .doc .pdf .cbr etc and ensure a decent eprice (ie, lower than the paperbook version) and people are far more likely to 'chance' it. I know I would. At the moment I'm 'stuck' using a 12.1in. TX2 tablet/laptop (multitouch) that reads any format I throw at it (plus, you know, functions as a capable pc), and yes, I've happily read a few books on it plus my graphic novel collection whilst listening to my music and sometimes firing up Word to jot down notes.
Reason for me wanting an ebook reader, lightness of weight (tx2 weighs nearly 2kg), battery life (with wireless off and decent screen brightness I get about maybe 4 to 5 hours) and screen (not experienced just heard about) - three things that don't add up to £200.
There's no dispute that there's a market for a few of the readers, and at the prices they charge, I'm sure they'll make a profit.
But that doesn't mean current readers are the future. And also doesn't mean they'll go mass market.
With publishers taking the piss on e-book prices they're going to massively limit their sales. Which gives other technologies a chance to catch up.
The reader manufacturers may also find that some sort of 'good enough' tablet technology virtually kills the reader. Because obviously the readers are better for just a book, but a 10" tablet with only one tenth the battery life, but that can also get you on the internet from the sofa or the train, do your emails and a bit of light internet shopping, looks like quite a nice device. There are only a few times where you need a one week battery life, as opposed to it just being a 'nice to have'. So the readers may go the way of the Betamax or Minidisc.
Also the newspaper industry is going to push for colour and a larger screen. That makes tablets look good. My brother bought a Sony reader, and I was very impressed. But at the cost of new books, it's basically a nice way of displaying out of copyright ones, and he could read them on his iPod Touch, or computer.
"No Market" ?
For something with an alleged lack of market there are a lot of devices available or about to become available: Sony, Kindle, Bookeen, IRiver. Hanlin, Polymer Vision, Azbooka, Cool-er, TXTr, Nook, Spring Design Iliad, QUE,... The list goes on. See...
Would all these companies really be rushing to market for something that no one was buying?
I got my used Sony PRS505 for 220 dollars, which went on my British credit card at about 132 UKP which is pretty close to the 100 UKP point. The newer models don't really offer that much more than what I have now so I'm perfectly happy. Older/Used models do seem to be actually holding their value pretty well so there IS a market for these things already, it just wont reach its potential till prices do come down. Its still healthy though.
I know many of these aren't available in the UK but they will be (in about 600 years) :-)
The books are what matters
I'm not so worried about the readers; obviously I'd like them to be cheaper, but you only buy one once.
The real problem, and what makes me reluctant to buy too many titles for my own Reader, is that the books cost more than the printed editions. Pop along to the websites for publishers like Random House or Penguin and you'll find plenty of eBooks for sale at the same price as the hardback edition, let alone the paperbacks.
People might stomach the DRM and inability to lend, in favour of the space saving, if they knew they'd actually save money in the long run. But not when going electronic costs you more.
It's as if they went to a meeting of music industry executives and said "Can you give us hints on how to really shaft our customers as we transition to electronic distribution?"
The same Amazon who had to introduce Kindle here early, because they can't shift them in the USA? They wouldn't make them unless they made money? Oh dear.... If that were true there'd never be a bankruptcy, or indeed any New Year Sales...