Tempting indeed it is the idea of being able to carry a plethora of books snug fit in one small device – the e-readers. This would be any book lovers dream come true specially when going on a holiday without having to lug around a whole lot of books and spending extra on baggage allowance.
The dream however does not fructify into reality for many bookaholics for the simple reason of cost. Electronic readers or e-readers that claim to be substitutes to books are priced at such elevated levels that they often are beyond the reach of the majority of book lovers.
Take for instance, the Sony PRS300 which comes at $179 while the Sony Touch is priced at $249. BeBook, Cooler and Elonex along with other contemporary devices range in between $170 to $199. For a buyer in UK, the Amazon Kindle comes at around $340, which does not include the cost of e-books that has to be bought extra. And these certainly aren’t cheap as a title from Amazon for the Kindle e-reader costs about $12.99. A similar cost factor exists for titles offered by every maker of e-reader at their own home sites.
Though there is a lot of talk about free e-books being available across the net, the choice offered by these online bookstores have to be experienced to conclude on their severe limitations. You will be able to come across only a few Dickens, Austen or Shakespeare classics from Project Gutenberg. Other than that there is very little on offer to ignite a book lover’s taste of readable entertainment. Another factor that you have to be wary of is that most of the books that you buy are covered under DRM or Digital Rights Management. This means the e-books that you buy from say Amazon will only be good for their Kindle range of e-readers. You can’t use them to be read on any other e-reading device. So you are tied to the device that you have bought.
Compare this with hard cover books that come at much cheaper rates. These usually are accompanied by many deals that makes these books all the more affordable so that you can have a bestseller at around £4.00 or even less. So you can have a whole lot of books for the price of an e-reader.
E-readers therefore have to evolve a much more liberal pricing policy to compete with their traditional hardcover or paperback rivals. The forecast is of a heavy fall in price of these eGadgets. In addition multifunction devices such as the iPad are also expected to offer much more than what e-readers can do for you. There is a possibility with all these variations for the book lover to maybe consider shifting to become an e-reader.
However, there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel in that a new chip design from Freescale promises to being down the cost of e-readers to around the $150 dollar mark or even lower. But then, there is a similar move to jack up e-book costs, something that has angered everyone from publishing house to the public or the author. So, things are taking an interesting turn – a cheap e-reader at last but pricey e-books to mar the occasion.
Keep watching this space for more developments on this as well as the latest e-reader news.
The April issue of our Good E-Reader Magazine also carries a detailed discussion on this along with a whole lot more on Slates, Tablets, E-Readers as well as related technology.