Forrester: E-Readers Too Pricey

Posted by: Douglas MacMillan on September 03, 2009

Last month Sony began selling the most affordable electronic book reader on the market, its Pocket Edition, for $200. Turns out, even that’s too steep for most people.

New research from Forrester shows most consumers would only consider the purchase of an e-reader that cost between $50 and $99. Here’s a chart showing how different types of respondents answered the question, “At what price would you consider an electronic book device/eBook reader expensive but still purchase it?”

forrbooks1.jpg

This comes as relatively good news for Sony, since its budget model could benefit from greater demand at the lower end of the market (Amazon’s cheapest Kindle is $300). But the study also underscores the reality that despite the hype, the e-books market is premature, and those lining up to buy expensive reading devices are still very much early adopters.

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Reader Comments

Person

September 3, 2009 07:44 PM

It's damn obvious, these devices are basically glorified lcd picture frames. And those are in color and cost a lot less! For $200 and $300 they should be able to do WAY more than read a book.

Midwest

September 3, 2009 08:20 PM

E-readers are hype and hype only. They barely register a blip on the market share screen when compared to print or books on tape. Why are people even talking about these things?

Most decent cell phones have a screen large enough to read and memory enough to store a few hundred pages so why would people bother with a $300 Swindle?

Let me get this straight, I have to buy a $300 device AND then have to buy product on top of that to use the device?

Paper is never going to die. Get over it digital die hards. Tonight I'm going to read a book and I'm not going to worry about whether it's charged or not. I'll just turn on a light or light a candle and I'll be fine.

siphandone

September 3, 2009 08:41 PM

I won't buy e-Reader even for $50... I have Internet, iPod Touch, laptop & PC, I can read all I want...

Cliffster

September 3, 2009 09:08 PM

Any idea what cost DRM adds to these units?

Seth

September 3, 2009 10:27 PM

I own a Sony 505 reader and love it. I paid around $250 for it. I am an avid reader and have been looking at these devices for several years but always found them too expensive. The price I paid was just barely in the "buy" zone for me. I think $179 would be the right price.

tdp1001

September 3, 2009 11:30 PM

Text readers that play MP3's and MP4s and display pictures can be bought for less that $20.00. The text is very readable, the batteries last much longer, and the player can be comfortable held in one's hand.

A 4.3 inch touch-screen GPS receiver that has all of the MP4 player features plus can display Flash files that allows the user to read text with graphics can be bought for less that $70.00.

And there is a free program that prints any file to a Flash file that allows the user to page through the file.

Why would anyone want to buy a bulkier, heavier, more costly, battery-eating device to read books?

MARK Owen

September 4, 2009 12:40 AM

WHILE THESE UNITS MAY SEEM SOMEWHAT
OVERSCORED, THEY COMPLIMENT AND FILL
VARIANCES FOR CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS WHO
REQUIRE SPECIFIC NEEDS THAT ARE ...
They are so worthless nobody would think of ...
Hand your pods or your lap to a 70
or 80 year younger and see which one they ......

Christine

September 4, 2009 02:21 AM

I think some of the facts the other commenters might be missing are about DRM and the "LCD" screens.

There are several models out that are open format now. I believe the new Sony ones are open format.

And the Readers are most definitely NOT LCD screens. They use a new technology, e-Ink, which is really pretty cool. I can't explain it better than these guys: http://www.eink.com/technology/howitworks.html.

I know the implications are, it's a heck of a lot easier on your eyes than looking at a back-lit LCD and it uses a lot less battery. I think I read somewhere else that e-Ink isn't going to be in color until 2010. So that's why the LCD devices are cheaper.

Now, I am an early adopter but I haven't made the jump to get an eReader yet. However, the open format models and the Google project with all the free books have made me seriously reconsider.

All that said, I wouldn't mind if the price dropped a bit more!

philip Cadena

September 4, 2009 02:40 AM

ur an idiot they dont need to be just cheaper but thinner smaller in mass. i want like almost paper thin then ill buy otherwise ill stick to my smartphone or laptop

daniel

September 4, 2009 12:32 PM

the research is clear - demand is there at the right price and is at a significant level even before snazzier technology layes the experience and with lighter and more flexibel hardware

Steve

September 9, 2009 12:39 PM

I conservatively estimate that my time is worth $70 per hour (it's probably worth far more than that). By that basis, my $300 Kindle, which I've owned for about nearly 90 days, has already paid for itself. Other folks must agree with me. Have you flown lately, and if so, looked at the folks flying in Business or First Class? Amazon and Sony don't necessarily need the masses. A nice share of the tech gadget digerati crowd makes a very nice business.

jimzello

October 1, 2009 09:35 PM

I don't get why Amazon didn't just raise unit price of each e-book to amortize the value of the kindle over time. Something like, get a Kindle for $100 and then the rest will be paid out over time, (which would be similar to how cell phones got to be so ubiquitous at first). With higher sales, larger economy of scale will lower production costs and drive down the price in the mid-term (while profits from both book royalties and hardware sales start pouring in). It works for video game companies, it would work better here. Take my advise Amazon, and in exchange I'll ask for the credit and a free Kindle.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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