Hours after Barnes & Noble’s price cut on Nook and announcement of a new lower-priced wi-fi model, Amazon announced a price reduction of its own. They lowered the price on the regular model of Kindle from $269 to $189, effective immediately. The press loves “price wars” and of course everyone is an expert on what this means, and what it portends.
Barnes & Noble is particularly vocal in media accounts. CEO William Lynch tells the NYT, “I don’t see more than two, or maybe three dedicated reading companies in the market for selling e-books. I think you are starting to see a shake-out now.” Within 12 months thinks ereaders “that people will actually want to buy” could sell for under $100.
BN vp of digital products Tony Astarita tells the WSJ that with the new lower price points, “you really start opening up the device to people who are not necessarily heavy readers.”
Less covered but potentially more significant, Apple released the updated mobile iOS along with version 1.1 of the iBooks app–making Apple’s reading platform and store available to millions of iPhone and iPod Touch owners.
Borders had hoped to have a price advantage with their $149 ereader from Kobo. CEO Michael Edwards has a column at Fortune’s site that ostensibly describes “how the e-book and the bookstore can co-exist.” But the argument relies more on hope than innovation: “the increasing amount of time we spend in virtual spaces — online meetings, social networks, video games, e-commerce sites — places a premium on time spent with and around actual people.”
He does admit that “the onus is on booksellers to prove their continued relevance in the digital age. If they continue to innovate in the services and experiences they offer and the ways they engage the community, consumers will continue to make bookstores a vital part of their lives. If they fail to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer needs, they’ll deserve the empty aisles — and cash registers — that result. The next chapter is up to them.”