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Prices Slashed For Nook, Kindle E-Readers 255

Posted by kdawson
from the free-falling dept.
b0bby sends in a report from ZDNet about the sudden outbreak of a price war in e-reader devices. "On Monday, Barnes & Noble cut the price of the 3G Nook to $199. It also launched a $149 Wi-Fi version. Just hours later, Amazon responded by cutting the price of the Kindle to $189. At $259, the price of the Kindle and Nook just 24 hours ago, an e-reader purchase competed with an Apple iPad, which started at $499 for a Wi-Fi version. Below $200, a dedicated e-reader purchase makes a lot more sense." Sony dropped prices for its readers three months ago, but the move didn't kick off a price war at that time. Some believe that dedicated e-readers are doomed in the long run to lose out to general-purpose devices such as the iPad — and its coming imitators, many of which will be based on Google Android.
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Prices Slashed For Nook, Kindle E-Readers

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  • EBOOK PRICES (Score:5, Insightful)

    by birukun (145245) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:05PM (#32647780)

    Until they drop Ebook prices, they can pound sand...... For those prices, Kindle/Nook should be free

  • by Coopjust (872796) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:09PM (#32647804)
    When you neglect the benefits of dedicated eReader devices with e-ink, such as...
    • The fact that they get battery life in weeks instead of hours
    • The fact that they use minimal power between page flips (vs. a relatively steady draw)
    • The fact that they are easier on the eyes
    • The fact that they are more easily read in sunlight...

    It's a lot easier to say that it's over and the iPad/tablet rush will kill the eReader revolution.

    Not to mention the fact that the nook/Kindle are much, much cheaper. That makes taking it to places like the beach (large zipper plastic bag keeps it safe and readable) or just on the go in general is something you don't have to worry about.

    Yes, the iPad will have its fans. But there are people who don't want a "do everything" device, they want something that reads books really, really well. And the nook, Kindle, and other eReaders do that. Until there's a radical revolution in color screen technology that gains the benefits that e-ink has (which are great for a book reading device)

    Not to mention that the 3G iPad is $130 extra, and doesn't include free 3G for the store so you can make an impulse book buy wherever you are. That's major in the convenience factor of the device.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:16PM (#32647858)

    sale and distribution of pure data is effectively free.

    Yeah it's not like they have to pay for bandwidth or anything...

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:16PM (#32647868) Journal
    Probably nowhere near that high. E-ink screens are an oddball in process terms, so they don't share economies of scale with LCDs(which is why the real cheap seats in the e-reader market are black and white LCD devices, and why E-ink, inc. probably says a prayer of thanksgiving every time Pixel Qi's stuff gets delayed again). A fully pixel-addressable one of reasonable size and resolution is not inexpensive(unlike the cheesy region-addressable ones, which are fairly cheap). As discrete items, 3G modems suitable for computer use seem to go for 30-80 dollars. I'm assuming that they are cheaper in bulk; but that is still something extra on the old BOM.

    We are probably talking at least 100% above BOM; but I'd be surprised at anything markedly higher than the consumer electronics average. The real rip-off, though, is in the fact that you are paying all that just for the right to purchase a bunch of fancy bitstreams, generally for at least as much as the paperback equivalent, sometimes more, from somebody's proprietary storefront.
  • by gig (78408) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:41PM (#32648102)

    One thing that seems to be true with Android is it's always "coming". There's always a really great Android moment on the horizon.

    But there are already many Android tablets. They're not coming. They've been here a while. Last January's CES was infested with them. They all just suck. They get reviewed and they ship 10 units and they go away. The Nook which is mentioned in this article is an Android tablet!

    The idea that manufacturers are going to just copy iPad is asinine. Look at the Sprint EVO, which had 3 iPhones to copy and it gets 8 hours of standby battery life. In other words, if you don't use it at all, it still dies in 8 hours. A key feature of iPad is the 10-12 hours of actual use, and 30 days of standby. I've gotten on a train in Silicon Valley with a fully-charged iPad, surfed on 3G the whole way, and when I'm putting it away in San Francisco, it still says "100%" in the battery meter. I've had the device for 3 weeks and never even seen a low battery warning.

    And iOS is not a phone OS scaled-up, it's desktops-and-servers OS X with a touch interface on top. Android doesn't have that kind of graphics layer, multichannel audio, advanced typography, C API, and other desktop-class features that only become even more important as you scale the display up. Being able to port desktop C apps over rather than rewrite in Java only becomes even more important.

    And the bag of parts on an iPad approaches the retail price point. There is no room under there. A big display and battery is a big display and battery. An iPad 3G 16GB is $629 retail and Nexus One 4G with 1/4 the screen size and 30% of the battery volume is $649 retail. The biggest problem for Android v2 has been it's more expensive than iPhone! That's why it only sells on the closed networks in the US. That's why 75% of Android devices run v1.6.

    In tech, it is a fool's game to try and predict the future anyway. But if you are doing this Android-is-coming-soon thing, that is something you should talk to your therapist about. It's just become so tiresome. Any mention of iPad or iPhone online and the next thing you know "Android will be better next year!" Sheesh. It's like a reflex. If only it was as easy to actually make functional, consumer-ready devices.

  • by Isomorphic (241771) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:48PM (#32648150)

    I disagree. I've owned a Sony Reader and an iPad. The iPad is, hands down, easier on the eyes.

    The Kindle and other eInk displays have a contrast ratio of 6:1 to 7:1. The iPad backlit IPS display is 750:1 to 930:1.

    Other than perhaps directly under the sun, the iPad display wins. In dim light, the iPad owns.

  • Re:EBOOK PRICES (Score:4, Insightful)

    by straponego (521991) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:58PM (#32648226)
    Agreed, the prices on ebooks are far too high. But if you are smart, ebook readers can be a good deal. There are a ton of free (and legal) ebooks out there. Old classics out of copyright are free, but also a decent library of newer SF. What pushed me to make the purchase was the price of a paper copy of Peter Watts' Behemoth... over $150 new, but free on his site. There's also Charles Stross, the Baen Free Library, etc... and I've barely started looking. The Nook store also has a fair number of freebies, but for the most part you'll have to download books from various sites and use Calibre to convert to one of the supported formats.

    Factoring in the free books, the average cost of the books in my nook is about what used books would cost, or a bit less. I haven't had time to get serious about filling it with free books, or it would be even lower. I'd be happy to buy many more books through their store, but I won't do so aggressively until prices are reasonable (at $5, I'd go nuts, and their profits would skyrocket; everybody wins. But I guess they don't like money). So the Nook will save me money over the year, though not as much as I'd prefer. I read a couple thousand pages during my vacation, so it saves on weight, space, and trees as well.

    If they raise the prices more (dick move, Steve Jobs), torrents of ebooks will become much more popular.
  • by Stray7Xi (698337) on Monday June 21, 2010 @08:58PM (#32648228)

    I used to get frustrated when I'd come to tech sites and people are claiming the iPad has the better screen because it's color...

    Then I put it in perspective. We're on a tech site dedicated to computer geeks. For the most part they're not looking to read, they're looking to browse the web. When you look at book enthusiast blogs, eInk readers are still highly preferred. The kindle and the like are for hobbiest readers, and serious readers aren't going to put up with an LCD screen. I don't think price is even the biggest issue, hobbies are almost always expensive, but comfort wins. I'm curious what a slashdot poll would show for how much readers spent on their keyboard/mouse.

    If you read a few books a year, then you don't need an ereader. If you read a few books a month, you'll want eInk reader, maybe even if it's in addition to the iPad you use for other functions. Borrow one from a friend and try reading on both for a couple hours.

  • Re:EBOOK PRICES (Score:1, Insightful)

    by joh (27088) on Monday June 21, 2010 @09:03PM (#32648250)

    Until they drop Ebook prices, they can pound sand...... For those prices, Kindle/Nook should be free

    While I totally share the view that Ebooks are much less worth to the buyer (me) than "real" books, they're hardly cheaper to produce than paper books. Mass-production and distribution of paper books is *really* cheap these days and digital production and distribution isn't free either. This is an ugly and somehow absurd situation. But it's totally equivalent to the situation for authors: Most would make more money by flipping burgers instead of writing their books. Books are not an easy business.

    Most books are a net loss for both authors and publishers and the very few which make money make lots of money and have to pay for many others which earn them nothing at all.

    If you expect Ebooks to drop to a fraction of the price of paper books don't hold your breath. To make this possible you would have to cut out all the work that actually makes some text into a book; with most manuscripts (even good ones) this would mean you'd put out just crap that nobody wants to read. And that nobody knows about. Yes, there are exceptions but exceptions do not make markets. A book is a product and the author is only one part in the process.

    Go and read self-published books if you don't believe me. You can only rarely make a good book by just writing it. Most of the work going into a book is exactly the same regardless of the format.

    This does not mean that you couldn't make this more efficient. But books done the same way won't be cheaper just because you deliver bytes instead of printed paper.

  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Monday June 21, 2010 @09:04PM (#32648256) Homepage

    "Android will be better next year!"

    In my opinion Android is better _this_ year.

    For phones: My girlfriend updated her iPhone 3GS to the new OS last night. I see that she now has a phone that still can't compare to my HTC Desire with Android 2.1. (2.2 upgrade due within 2 weeks)

    For tablets: I don't want a locked-down tablet like the iPad. There are some sucky Android tablets out now, yes, but inevitably there will be some very good ones. And even if they aren't as pretty and slick as the iPad, they will be _better_ than the iPad because, whichever one I choose, it will be my device to do whatever I want with.

    I'm surprised that anyone would currently think Android needs to catch up with iOS. Android is far ahead. It's just that a lot of Android devices lack the "shiny factor" of the iDevices.

  • by coryking (104614) * on Monday June 21, 2010 @09:29PM (#32648414) Homepage Journal

    I see that she now has a phone that still can't compare to my HTC Desire with Android 2.1.

    But does she think that way? Does she know exactly what version the operating system her phone is running? Do you keep telling her about how awesome your phone is and she just shrugs it off?

    Besides, why the fuck should she care exactly what version her operating system is? Who really gives a shit?

    It's just that a lot of Android devices lack the "shiny factor" of the iDevices.

    It is a hell of a lot more than the "shiny factor" that sells the iDevices. And even if it was the shiny factor, why the hell has nobody else in the market even come *close* to matching the build quality of an iDevice?

    But really, I suspect the reason so many of you are so intent on proving how awesome "Version 2.2" of your operating system is might be because you and I both know the iDevice is the future. And it pisses you off because for the first time ever, "computers" dont need you and I to maintain them. They just fucking work, instead of barely work.

    Let me tell you, it is about damn time too. The Wii did it with the game console market, and apple has done it with the "computer" market. The "computer" has come of age. And they are iPads and iPhones.

  • Re:EBOOK PRICES (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JanneM (7445) on Monday June 21, 2010 @10:10PM (#32648644) Homepage

    "While I totally share the view that Ebooks are much less worth to the buyer (me) than "real" books, they're hardly cheaper to produce than paper books. "

    I don't doubt you for a second.

    But as a customer the reality is still that the ebook gives me a lot less value than the printed version. There is a solution, however. The marginal cost of distributing the ebook is just about zero once you've created it. So sell them as a bundle. Add, oh, 10% to the price of the paper book, and give me access to the ebook version as well.

  • Re:EBOOK PRICES (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:59PM (#32649332) Homepage Journal

    Being a somewhat obsessive buyer of books on webscription, one of my irks with my nook is that it doesn't have a search function - which when you load up 300+ ebooks is kinda important.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @12:00AM (#32649334)

    Comic books? on 1024x768?!

    Manga, yes, marginally (150 dpi). American comics? Not really. 100dpi scans will often have legibility issues; starting from higher-res scans and scaling to 100dpi will fix that, but you lose a lot of detail.

    IMO, 1280x800 is the absolute minimum for comics, and (if I could find it in a portable device) 1920x1200 would be the right answer.

  • Re:EBOOK PRICES (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Totenglocke (1291680) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @12:05AM (#32649370)

    I have to say one of my favorite things about the kindle is the books you buy are stored remotely as well as on your device, so unless Amazon goes out of business (unlikely) you have the book forever. I can't keep track of how many books I've lost, read until they disintegrated, etc. The kindle book is always there.

    I'm guessing you weren't reading slashdot back when they had the scandal of removing copies of 1984 that people had purchased....

    What you see as the biggest upside, most of us see as one of it's biggest downsides.

  • by ppanon (16583) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @12:41AM (#32649546) Homepage Journal
    Not only that, but I own 20 year old paperbacks. It's not clear that Kindles will last anywhere near that long.
  • Re:EBOOK PRICES (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nick357 (108909) on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @12:53AM (#32649608)

    I think the eBook people are totally missing the ball on what business model to choose. I'd buy one if they used a rental system rather than a purchase system. It makes no sense to me to buy a book on a reader. I loose too much "book" functionality. But if I could rent one for a dollar a day - sign me up - I'd be spending $365 a year on books. DRM the hell out of it - I don't care: I'm just renting it. I don't want to keep it on my shelf. I don't want to lend it to anyone. I just want to read the thing. If its a "keeper", then I'll go out and buy a dead-tree edition.

    Find the right business model and eBooks will work. They haven't found it yet...

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 22, 2010 @08:13AM (#32651548) Journal

    How so? Books are a communal thing, an eBook reader is not. My mom has been buying what was once considered 'trashy" Sci-Fi and horror paperbacks since the late 50s, thanks to her our public library gets to have one of the best classic Sci-Fi horror sections around, and my mom is on a first name basis with the librarians and most of the college girls in town thanks to her "need to free up shelf space" a couple of times a year. When she is in the library (which is often) she ends up chattering for ages with the local college girls, who want to know what she thinks of a particular artist/series or want to know if she has a missing book in some old fantasy series the girl is reading (which she often does) and they will sit there for ages discussing books.

    You just don't get interaction like that with an eBook. They are just little ones and zeroes, little chunks of DRM that are quickly not worth anything, even to the one who paid. I remember when this whole eReader fad came around last in the mid 90s, and just like today the publishers wanted too much money for DRM infested crap. Just like then I have a feeling it will all end up in the trash, while my mom and the college girls at the library swap the last fantasy authors over tea.

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