Price Matters to Readers

It’s getting to the point where booklovers can’t afford not to have an ereader. The Wi-Fi-only version of the Kindle is $139, a price point that is pretty attractive. If it ever drops to $99, I’m guessing sales will explode, because at that price the benefits simply cannot be denied.

Case in point: I was recently looking to buy a popular book in paperback form via Amazon.com, and while the paperback version cost $8.99, the Kindle version could be had for five bucks. Granted, it’s not a new release, but a lot of the books I buy aren’t. I checked the prices on one of my favorite books, The House of Mirth, and found I could buy Kindle versions for 99 cents! While it hurts my literary sensibilities to think the classics are basically being given away for free, it appeals to my frugal nature. And who knows, maybe free versions of classic literature will awaken a passion for reading in the populace, or some such nonsense. (We all know the only thing people really want to read about is vampires.)

Both ereader and tablet sales are booming, and IDC recently released a report saying global revenues for tablet and ereader semiconductors grew more than 2,000% in 2010. That’s a lot of semiconductors.

However, books aren’t always cheaper in the ereader versions. Recently, there have been accounts of readers crying foul over electronic versions of books that were priced higher than their hardback counterparts. These tend to be new releases, and I understand publishers can’t give their product away—I wouldn’t want them to. But I also understand it’s hard for people to stomach paying more for a “book” that didn’t require any paper or other costly physical materials.

But it looks like digital editions are here to stay. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all my bookshelves.

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