2 hours ago
Friday, February 5, 2010
Price of e-Books: The Biggest Enemy?
Since they became popular, mostly thanks to the e-Paper readers such as Sony Readers and Amazon's Kindle, e-Books have had three major enemies: DRM (digital rights management), geographic restrictions and high prices.
Readers have always given out about DRM and Geo-restrictions. They don't make sense and they are, at best, frustrating for the reader. I've always believed that the high prices have constituted a lesser threat to the success of the e-Books. This is because I think that as e-Readers become more popular, a reasonable and more-or-less global pricing scheme will set in. I'm not so sure about it anymore.
Amazon's $9.99 upper limit was an excellent start in the US. However publishers have never been happy about this artificial price limit. I guess they never liked the fact that e-Book sales have cannibalized their hardback sales, which is where they mostly make their money (please correct me if I'm wrong on this one. I've always assumed so with my limited knowledge).
Amazon's recent failure in its arm-wrestle with Macmillan and authors' joining the clash were the first indicators of Amazon's defeat not only in this fight but in this war. Not surprisingly, Amazon is also cornered by increasing competition, especially the new Apple gadget, iPad.
There's no doubt, at least in my mind, that electronic content is the future of reading. At the end of the day, I think most of the e-Reader users are happy to absorb some of the device cost because of the convenience of using such gadgets. However, ultimately, they believe that e-Books have to be commercialized considerably cheaper than their dead-tree editions. I'm just hoping that the time we'll see a general consensus about how much an e-Book should cost is not so far away.