Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sony to Stack eBooks and Readers High and Sell Them Cheap

Sony are to launch onto the US market a PRS 300 $199 ebook reader. The aim is to obviously take on Amazon on price that is $100 cheaper, to also pre-empty iTablet move and to beat the 'tortoise' that is Plastic Logic to market. The readers will have a 5” screen, which probably enables the reduction in the price.

Sony will also introduce a larger PRS 600 touchscreen brother which will sell for $299 and so compete head to head with the Kindle.

The plan to stack them high and sell cheap through outlets such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy may be a wise move but the question is whether the deals were exclusive and the volume that has to be shifted to achieve the margin. It also plans charge $9.99 to $11.99 for downloads of best-sellers and new releases, so competing head to head on prices with Amazon.The question this raises is whether these prices can only be achieved via Sony's ebook store and how that will fair with any retail partnerships Sony has established with publishers, retailers and other players. Although this is a US launch the question of its Uk base which it built heavily on Waterstones will be an interesting one to watch.

Unlike the Kindle and the Plastic Logic reader, Sony's new devices are not wireless which means they still, like today's models, need to be tethered to a PC to copy downloaded files.

So is the price going to secure the market for Sony or is it likely to just lead to the other eInk 'lookie likies' entering a price war. With both the price of device being heavily discounted and the titles being sold at bargain prices the market could be stimulated. However discounting before the demand has really taken off could be seen as an act of desperation and just add to consumer confusion.What will early adopters feel about the prices paid only yesterday and the apparent discontinuation of models which they may view as 'new'?

It is easy to see ebook prices tumbling further and devices following and we then have to ask what's in it for the author?

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