Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Ebooks in the News

I am still waiting for Sony to release its eBook Reader so I can purchase it (see previous post) and move off of paper for good. It was supposed to be released in April, but looks like it is going to be summer before it is out. Just found out about another E-ink competitor: the iLad Reader from IRex Technologies. Who ever releases first, I will buy it.

Lots of articles about these ebooks. Some are calling them an "iPod for books". I think is an apt description. And I really hope someone comes out with a Real Rhapsody like subscription model for books. $20 a month, all the books you can read. But, something tells me the publishers will try to apply their old economic models on this new medium not understanding that the trivial distribution costs should radically change their business models.

The Washington Post talks of their pricing plans:

Like the music industry, book publishers have begun to ramp up online offerings that can be purchased and downloaded to e-book reader devices. Publishing giant Random House has already converted more than 3,000 of its titles into a digital format, selling them for $18 each, about $7 less than for the hardback version.
The New York Times talks about ebooks application to schools (which I think is huge, but is going to take a while for it to be worked out):
E-textbooks may also be lagging because the economics, on closer inspection, make less sense. About half of textbooks are sold back to stores or to other students, the trade group reports, but electronic textbooks can't be resold. A student who sells back a print textbook can expect to get 50 percent of the cover price. For a new $60 book, that's a net cost of $30 at the end of the semester. For a used book, which might sell for $45 (75 percent of the price when it was new), the net cost is $15 if sold back. An electronic version would cost $36.
Once again, these guys don't get the pricing structure. They don't take into account the value of used books and so over price them. My subscription plan makes so much sense here. Just toss a $100 a quarter fee to students and let them access any text book that they want. Split the $100 between all the writers and publishers.

The New York Times also writes about its possibilities with the newspaper industry:
De Tijd, with 40,000 readers in Belgium, is essentially fitting its traditional print format to the device's screen, meaning that it is not changing the style of its newspaper. Twenty-five De Tijd readers received free e-paper devices on April 14, the start of a three-month trial that ultimately will reveal the habits of 200 readers, mostly highly educated men selected to match the demographic profile of its print readers.
I am pretty excited at the possibilities: books, textbooks, newspapers, blogs, .pdf files and magazines. I can't wait to be able to buy mine.

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