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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Price drop fuels Kindle sales

Originally written for eBookGuru - The Digital Magazine Devoted to eBooks

Amazon.com issued a press release on Monday (July 19th) stating that they have

“… reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle–the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189″

Regardless of whether it was the introduction of the iPad (which as I asserted in a previous post [The $50 eReader] hasn’t - and won’t - hurt Kindle sales) or the lower price point on the Kobo, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have recently reduced their eReader prices.

So what’s next?

The Kobo, while still a viable alternative, needs to lower it’s price point in order to make up for the lack of wireless connectivity. It recently received a favorable review from Engadget

“…its thinness, lightness, and comfort in the hand is far and away its strongest feature, and one that it beats a lot of its more robust competition prettily handily.”

“The rubbery “quilted” back is tacky enough that you can hold the 6-incher comfortably with just one hand, a move we’ve never perfected with the Nook, Kindle 2, or iPad.”

“Kobo’s device is, in practice, pretty awesome feeling”

but Engadget also mentions the lack of wireless access, calling it a

“huge drawback..”

It will be interesting to see who makes the next move, especially now that Sony has reduced the price of the Pocket Edition of their eReader to $149 as well. Of the 3 eReaders priced at $149 - the Kobo, the Sony Pocket Edition, and the Nook, only the Nook has wireless access in the form of Wi-Fi. Despite it’s bare bones approach, the Kobo clearly has an edge in usability. Combine this with a price drop and some firmware tweaks and the Kobo has the potential to become the eReader of choice for the budget conscious reader.

Also of interest in the press release is the increase in sales of Kindle eBooks.

Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.This is across Amazon.com’s entire U.S. book business and includes sales of hardcover books where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.

Due to it’s proprietary format the Kindle is the only reader capable of reading Kindle eBooks which makes it easier to track usage of the Kindle. As I stated in the previous post (RIP Cool-er?) the AAP reports growing sales of eBooks in 2010 vs. 2009. The Amazon press release makes reference to this, stating that

“Kindle book sales in May and year-to-date through May exceeded those growth rates.”

Other interesting stats provided in the press release:

On July 6, Hachette announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books. [76%]

Five authors–Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts–have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books.

Clearly other eReaders have their work cut out for them if these stats are any indication of overall eBooks sales. All the other eReaders together, all of which support the more open ePub format, appear to account for fewer eBook sales than the Kindle alone. Of course the Kindle has the dual advantage of Amazon marketplace and easy, instant access to that marketplace via Whispernet.

I envision even more changes in the eReader market in the near term, especially given that 2 major sales opportunities remain for 2010 - back to school and Christmas.

Who knows? Perhaps we see a $99 eReader before the end of the year.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

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