Please, companies, make a good, cheap eBook reader. I really don’t mind having it by my bedside if it cost maybe $100 and books cost about $25 or so, like books cost in “paper form” right now. However, by selling them for too much and then charging a premium for books AND assuming that we’re all trying to steal your eBooks and share them on the Interwebs, you’re doing an entire market a disservice. That said, here comes Kindle and Google, traipsing onto the scene like they’ve never done marketing analysis.
Amazon is launching a $400-$500 eBook reader called the Kindle and will allow you to download books straight from the site. It will also have Wi-Fi.
Google will also start charging for eBooks, but I doubt they’ll make a piece of hardware to read them. How about an eBook reader for the iPhone, guys? Possible? Overall, however, I think eBooks are the way things are headed. But $500 for a screen and some buttons is extremely cost-prohibitive, as evidenced by Sony’s reader.
“Books represent a pretty good value for consumers. They can display them and pass them to friends, and they understand the business model,” said Michael Gartenberg, research director at Jupiter Research, who is skeptical that a profitable e-book market will emerge anytime soon.
“We have had dedicated e-book devices on the market for more than a decade, and the payoff always seems to be just a few years away,” he said.
That disappointing history goes back to the late 1990s, when Silicon Valley start-ups created the RocketBook and SoftBook Reader, two bulky, battery-challenged devices that suffered from lackluster sales and a limited selection of material. The best selling e-books at the time, tellingly, were “Star Trek” novels.
So there you have it: a rant, some bad news ($500 kindle), some good news (Google eBook sales), and a suggestion that eBook readers are nerds. What more could you want on a Thursday in September?