When markets move, they can sometimes move very quickly. That’s what we’ve seen this week in the e-book reader market with Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Borders fighting to maintain their market share while sacrificing once-healthy margins.
The move began earlier this week with Barnes & Noble releasing two new Nook readers – one with Wi-Fi for $149 and another that adds 3G connectivity for $199. That price was $60 cheaper than Amazon’s Kindle 2.
The following day, Amazon.com drop its price on the Kindle 2 to $189 to take back the advantage.
The battle between the Nook and Kindle 2 is a tight race between the extra battery life of the Kindle 2 (14 days per charge versus 10 for the Nook) and the extra 3.5-inch widescreen LCD panel on the Nook.
At the other end, the $149 Wi-Fi-only version of the Nook now put it at the same price as the Borders Kobo. But with that colour widescreen LCD panel, the Nook offered a little more zip in its purchase.
However, showing that their might be a floor in pricing afterall, Borders has been reported as saying it will keep the price of its Kobo reader at $149 but plans to offer buyers a $20 gift card to entice buyers – or possibly more correctly – keep buyers away from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.
There are plenty of other e-book reader vendors in the market that will now have to decide whether they want to slug it out with the “big three” to maintain market share, or instead, sit back and allow Amazon, Borders and B&N to grow the market for e-books and pick off the cream as the pie grows bigger.
In the end, we’re starting to see the beginning of the e-book reader market reach the mainstream with prices (and publicity) that should ensure electronic books gain greater appeal.