Monday Ebooks: Price Wars and New Kit Editions


It’s been a while since we’ve got it together to post a Monday Ebooks, and as usual the ebook world has moved so quickly we’ve missed a lot.

We wanted to point out that Barnes & Noble is giving away copies of its B&N Classics editions ebooks all summer, 12 each week, complete with introduction and notes as in the paper book. This week’s selection includes several Jane Austen novels. They switch out on Sunday, so if you want them, make sure you download them soon. You don’t need a device to read the books–you can get the B&N Reader software for your PC or smartphone.

As far as the devices go, the two biggest ebook/hardware providers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, are engaging in a price war. B&N lowered the price of its nook reader to $199, providing a second, wifi-only model for $149. Amazon responded by lowering the price of Kindle to $189, and recently introduced a new, sleeker, lighter Kindle at the same price and a wifi-only model at $139. A $99 device, perhaps from Kobo or Sony, can’t be too far behind.

The press is trumpeting that this means the second- and third-tier sellers that few have heard of will fall by the wayside. This strikes us as a particularly American-centric viewpoint. Russia is a huge ebook market, and Pocketbook is selling thousands of devices there as well as in Europe and even the U.S. (we confess to drooling a bit over the Pocketbook 360look at that case isn’t it darling squeeee!) Asia is another huge market, and Hanlin and Netronix are producing OEM devices for the lesser-known companies such as Astak, Bebook and Bookeen–great devices, especially for those who like to play with their electronic toys a bit, but they are currently not really competing on price in the U.S. Kindle and nook are top of the heap. Kindle is cheaper, has more and cheaper ebooks, but nook is more open–you can buy books from other bookstores and borrow ebooks from public libraries that use Overdrive, which is most of them in the U.S. (the Editrix’s county libraries just got ebooks–squeee!). In either case, they are designed to get the purchaser to stick to that company’s particular ecosystem, which is just good business.

One of the most exciting things about the new Kindle model is the Pearl eInk screen, which has better contrast and is therefore easier to read. We are assuming that the new screen will trickle out to the other sellers, and probably won’t upgrade our current device, an Astak EZReader Pocket Pro, until it does. Exciting times are ahead!

8 thoughts on “Monday Ebooks: Price Wars and New Kit Editions

  1. Kindle may be $10.00 less than nook, but technologically it is far superior. I could list 10 reasons why nook is better than Kindle, but I’m not on the time clock at the moment and do not want to appears like a rabid book/nook seller. I leave that to my Jane Austen blogging. 😉

    Oh, and nooks offers 500,000 free Google books. They are scanned and not as pretty as say Girlebooks presentations, but they are an incredible one click resource for classics and research books pre-1923. Kindle does not offer that.

    Other big nook news this week is the announcement that B&N stores are making a commitment to nook boutiques in stores. What did I tell you two months ago Mags? I am not a bookseller anymore. I am a nookseller. Last week Amazon announced that ebook sales had surpassed hardcover sales. That took three years since Kindle was introduced. That news sent a shudder through brick and mortar book stores across the world.

    Compounded with the expansion of “educational games” taking over a chunk of floorspace, my assistant manager and I were lamenting that we will be out of a job in 3 years or less. Sadly, bookstores will be dodos like Hollywood Video and all the record stores closing. Time marches on. People will still collect paper books, but soon ebooks will take over. You were just way ahead of us on this Mags.


    • Maria L

      People will still collect paper books, but soon ebooks will take over.

      Laurel Ann, I find that profoundly depressing.


      • I am personally happy to own a lot of books and not have to find a place to put them (OR DUST THEM); and to be able to check books out from the library without leaving the sofa. Brave new world, my friends. 🙂

        I still have three bookcases full of books (and I mean FULL–crammed into every nook and cranny) and books all over the house. But I’m whittling it down, and happy to do it.


  2. Laura Sass

    I have to agree with Laurel Ann about the Nook. I looked at both the Nook and Kindle and choose the Nook due to the fact you can get google books and library books on it. The Nook also lets you lend certain books to another Nook for a set time period. That feature pushed the Nook ahead, since my book loving friend and myself already share many of our JA fan favorite and still can.
    The bonus for the Kindle is that some of my favorite self published books are only on amazon, but since I have hard copies of them already, it really is too greedy to get both.
    I am still buying both ebooks AND paper ones too. Nothing will replace that great bookstore smell 🙂


  3. Linda

    I have long been in denial about e-books, but am starting to maybe see the light. A question for you experts: what about texts being made available electronically by the Library of Congress, Oxford, etc. — is there a preferred device for accessing those? Thank you!


    • That’s a good question. I looked at the Library of Congress books, which appear to be available via the Internet Archive. They make available several formats, so any device should be covered. (Kindle format, which is actually probably the old Mobipocket format, for Kindle, and ePub for everything else.) I’m not sure what’s going on with Oxford. I would imagine they would do something similar. If the book is not DRMed, it’s very simple to use a program like Calibre to convert to the format you need. Hopefully eventually the retailers will settle on one format. That we’re down to two is already kind of amazing for us early adopters, but DRM is still an issue.

      Keep in mind, however, that you probably can’t download these free books directly to the device; likely you will have to “sideload” the books by plugging your device into your PC and transferring it. Until the price wars, that made a difference because you could get a simpler device without wireless access for less money, since you had to sync with your PC anyway, but now the simpler devices are actually more money than Kindle and nook!


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