29 July 2010

Ebooks and things

The new even lower priced Kindle has me thinking about ebooks again.

I think one of the big breakthroughs on ebooks becoming a more mainstream form of consumption will be lower priced readers, 99$ seems like the sweet spot. Kind of like when personal music players got less expensive they hit the mainstream and became ubiquitous.

The second element that I would hope for is a more sensible price range for ebooks themselves. There's no good reason, in my opinion, for one to cost more than 7.99$. Some people seem to think that ebooks should be priced lower since they don't have the dead-trees to pay for. A good argument but they take too far. In response others will point out that ebooks still take writing and editing and all that other behind the scene stuff that books will need no matter the format. But I look at the Mass-Market Paper-Back style, the majority of MMPBs cost around 7.99$. MMPBs still need writers and editors and all the rest and that price pays for them all and the dead-trees. And, lets be honest here, it would pure incompetence for web hosting and bandwidth to cost more than the dead-trees.

But then, people are perfectly willing to over-pay for MP3 files compared to music CDs. Even when CDs came down to 9$ or 10$ people were still paying 0.99$ per song, typically in the range of 12$ or more per CD's worth music. Maybe everyone will just get used to being price gouged for ebooks. Well, everyone else that is. I'll stick to collecting my dead-tree if I'm going to be paying the same price anyway.

Now the real magic will be when I walk into a book store, or log onto Amazon, and buy a dead-tree book, I'll get some kind optional upgrade which will furnish me with a special code I can use to also download a deeply discounted ebook and audio-book file of the same title. Add to this a specialized ebook and audio-book hybrid file which my reader will sync with. I can read the ebook when I need to, and have it automatically switch to narrating to me, say when I'm driving or something else. Now that would be something that would entice me into the market.
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