Adding to mounting tensions in the publishing industry over the pricing of electronic books, Sony Electronics plans to announce on Tuesday that it is lowering prices for new and bestselling books in its e-book store, to $9.99 from $11.99.
Sony is also introducing two new electronic reading devices: the Reader Pocket Edition and Reader Touch Edition. They will sell for $199 and $299 respectively and will go on sale at the end of August. [snip]
Although Sony’s reading devices are available in retail outlets like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, sales have lagged those of Amazon’s Kindle 2, which is sold only online and recently got a price cut of its own, to $299.
“The e-book industry has not hit the mainstream yet. We are focusing on affordability,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading Business Division.
Regarding the price cut for digital books, Mr. Haber said: “We have to offer value. It’s clear e-books should be less expensive than regular books, with the savings on printing and logistics getting passed on to the consumer."
Book publishers will still retain their traditional cut of every e-book sale—about half the hardcover retail list price. But they are concerned that as online retailers like Amazon and Sony gain market power, they will eventually tire of losing money on e-book sales and ask publishers for lower wholesale prices, ... “.
For Sony’s part, its price cut on digital books and the new devices may not be enough to help it catch up to Amazon. One significant drawback to Sony’s new devices is that, unlike the Kindle, they cannot connect wirelessly to an e-book store. Owners of Sony Readers must plug their devices into a computer to purchase and download books.
The new Readers also cannot access magazines or newspapers, and Sony has yet to develop a version of its reading software for other devices like the iPhone. Mr. Haber from Sony said that the company was working on developing all of these features
Sarah Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research, said Sony had publicly indicated that the two new devices were part of a new suite of e-reading products it would introduce this year. She said it was a “reasonable assumption” that Sony would introduce another device in the fall that has wireless features.
Sony had planned to unveil the two new Readers later this month, but images of the devices were posted on gadget blogs this week after one retailer prematurely added them to its online store.
Sony launches two new readers including a pocket-sized $199 device
Sony officially unveils new Readers, drops price of e-books
How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write
Sony Announces New Ebook Readers and EPUB Standard Support