E-Reader Pricing Battle Begins

With the launch of the iPad, a lot of comparisons have been made between tablets and traditional e-readers. While the iPad is in its own class, the Kindle from Amazon and the Nook from Barnes & Noble have been compared against it. Both devices came up short at their asking prices due to their limited features by comparison. However, when classed appropriately among peer devices, the Nook and Kindle are more directly competing for the non-iPad crowd.

Barnes & Noble announced the Nook Wi-Fi, a lower-priced version of the popular Nook e-reader. The Nook Wi-Fi offers familiar features, and is available on all of AT&T’s Wi-Fi hot spots. The Nook Wi-Fi is priced at $149. The original 3G/Wi-Fi Nook is now $199, a drop of $60.

Amazon moved quickly on the news of the Nook announcement. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, but landing at $10 under the Nook 3G looks pretty intentional. Either way, it was about time the Kindle came down. With no color screen, no touch screen, and no Android tablet features, it was way too expensive. There has been some discussion (likely not at Amazon) that the ideal price point for the Kindle is $100, if it is to gain a lasting foothold in the e-book market. I think it would be a much more reasonable price, but at least it dropped as far as it did this time. An e-reader needs to compete against other e-readers, not a “full”-featured tablet like the iPad.

The e-reader pricing battle has begun. I am looking forward to a counter-move by Barnes & Noble. It may not happen soon, but I am sure something will happen. Let’s see if Sony jumps in on this price scheme. At $200, the Reader Touch remains on the top of the price tier. Let’s hope for a continued collective drop.

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