Race to Most Popular eReader is On As Amazon and Barnes & Noble Wage Price War

The first day of summer was a hot one in the e-reader marketplace.

Competition for eReading consumers’ affection sizzled on Monday as Barnes and Noble dropped the price of its well received Nook e-book reader 23 percent to $199 and introduced the Nook WiFi at an even bigger bargain $149, though the latter device can only be used in a WiFi environment. Amazon, whose $259 price tag for their Kindle eReader (which comes with 3G technology by default) previously matched the Nook’s cost exactly, responded by dropping the price of the Kindle to $189, and they aren’t stopping their competitive advances there. Amazon.com plans to introduce a thinner Kindle with an upgraded screen this August. Sony’s cheapest eReader is still $169. {Fortune}

Get yourself a price gun: the war for th eReader market is on

At this rate, eReaders will be cheaper than the actual books in their stores in no time.

In addition, Apple updated the iPhone and iPod Touch today to include available iBook software. The iPad’s price tag for the entry-level model remains near $500, though the additional tablet computer functionality give it an advantage over single purpose eReaders. It would be difficult to justify a $500 eReader purchase, but when that device doubles as a place to play games, browse the web and check on email, it’s a lot easier to rationalize.
“Their sales have obviously been impacted by the iPad,” Charlie Wolf, a senior analyst at Needham & Co. in New York, said. “These price cuts are almost an act of desperation.” {Bloomberg Businessweek}

Meanwhile, Kobo, the e-book retailer that offers eReading software for an array of devices, released free software on Monday that is available through the Android marketplace and allows eReaders to be used on Smartphones with the Android operating system. The e-book retailer already produces software for other Smartphones, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Palm WebOS and the newly released Kobo reading device.

Users who buy Kobo e-books with one device can read their purchase on any of the devices for which Kobo offers software.

“We’ve adapted the features our customers love and expect from Kobo to ensure that we provide the best reading experience for Android-enabled smartphones,” Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis said. {Publishers Weekly}

Borders is also holding steady with eReaders that began selling for $119.99-$149.99 in May. {Bloomberg Businessweek}

Need to catch your breath? We sure do! We can’t wait to see which devices prove most popular among consumers and how low the prices will need to go to woo customers who are interested in an e-reading device but not its expense.

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