Earlier this month, Barnes & Noble announced that it had revised the pricing structure of its e-books to compete with Amazon and now it appears that Sony will do the same. This news proves that Amazon is in fact defining the cost of e-books. In recent months, publishers have expressed concern over Amazon’s low pricing for fear that consumers would become accustomed to the low price and it would affect the sale of more expensive hard cover books. A recent article from Fast Company noted, “Once readers have it in their heads that an e-book is worth ten bucks and no more, everyone from publishers to writers to competitors like B&N are going to have to bend to that price. It would seem that paradigm shift is already underway.”
Currently, publishers still receive half of the hardcover retail list price for every book sold but this may not be sustainable because it has been reported that Amazon is selling the e-books at a loss in an effort to sell more Kindles. In an article from The New York Times, Jonathan Karp, publisher and editor in chief at Twelve, an imprint of the Hachette Book Group commented, “$9.99 has now become the effective price for e-books in August of 2009. Let’s just take a breath and see how long this lasts.” According to the article, some publishers are considering an approach similar to the movie studios that will make the digital version available after the hardcover version has been on sale.
The article also confirms that Sony will introduce two new e-readers, the Reader Pocket Edition (PRS-300) and Reader Touch Edition (PRS-600), at the end of August. The PRS-300 has a 5-ink E Ink screen and can hold 350 books while the Reader Touch Edition has a 6-inch touch screen and includes expansion slots for additional storage. The new e-readers each come in a few colors and will replace the more expensive 505 and 700 series readers. The new e-readers still do include wireless capabilities or the ability to access magazines and newspapers but it is reported that Sony is working to incorporate these features.