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Old 02-17-2008, 07:50 AM   #1
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Rumor: Sony Reader, Amazon Kindle Coming to the UK soon

According to the Times of London, the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle will be available soon in the UK.

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The two biggest publishers in Britain are to offer dozens of likely bestsellers to read on a hand-held screen this autumn in a sign that, after many false dawns, the electronic “ebook” may finally have arrived.

Random House and Hachette, which together control just over 30% of the British book market, are to offer downloadable versions of titles by authors ranging from Delia Smith to Ian McEwan and Michael Parkinson. Every other major publisher is drawing up plans to follow suit, pitching the books at just below the price of a hardback.
Look at that last sentence. "pitching the books at just below the price of a hardback"

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The publishers have made the move to ebooks to follow the launch of two rival devices due to come on sale in Britain over the next few months – Sony’s Reader and Amazon’s Kindle.

They allow hundreds of novels to be downloaded from publishers’ or retailers’ websites into a lightweight, pocket-sized device costing about £200. Pages are turned by touch rather than by fiddling with buttons, and words consist of black chemical “e-ink” showing through a white surface rather than light glaring from an ordinary computer screen.

“The traditional book will not be dead, nor will bookshops, but this is a major change, with so many titles from now on available as ebooks and with the technology so much better,” said Fionnuala Duggan, head of the digital division at Random House, whose imprints include Ebury, Hutchinson and Century.

It is hoped that, as in America, it will be possible to download books to any of the handsets, rather than exclusively for the Reader or the Kindle. This would avoid the battle between Sony and Amazon turning into a “format war” of incompatible technologies similar to the 1980s struggle between VHS and Beta-max, the rival video formats.

“We hope that there will be inter-operability,” said Duggan, “in other words, that the ebook will work on any device.”

Publishers are being cautious about how far ebooks will displace the paper version, partly because of the many false dawns for computerised books. Numerous titles were published on CD-Rom in the 1990s, but the market declined as the technology was superseded by the internet.

Seven years ago the horror writer Stephen King self-pub-lished his book The Plant online. He offered it chapter by chapter, but abandoned the project after the sixth instalment.

Some other books have been published online, but they have remained a minority, mainly because the technology has been inconvenient, requiring the viewer to scroll down a computer screen to read a page. But publishers believe the public may at last be willing to accept computerised books following the success of the technology in America.

Delia Smith’s How to Cheat at Cooking, published last week by Ebury, will be available as an ebook later this year. So will most of the novels of Terry Pratchett and recent books by Joanne Harris and Ian McEwan.

Two celebrity autobiographies, by Michael Parkinson and Julie Walters, are expected to be published in downloadable versions by Hodder & Stoughton and Weidenfeld & Nicholson, which are owned by Hachette.

In America, the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle have been on sale since last autumn and about 90,000 titles are now available on them. Customers can order through Amazon, which then downloads the books from its website to the Kindle. It takes less than a minute to receive an average-length book.

The first device to be launched in Britain will be the Sony Reader, probably in late spring. The manufacturer has been working with the Borders bookshop chain in America so shoppers can both buy the device and download books at branches. In Britain, it is understood to be in discussions with Waterstone’s.
http://entertainment.timesonline.co....cle3382159.ece
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Old 02-17-2008, 08:11 AM   #2
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I hope the information he has about Waterstone's is better than his background research.
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Old 02-17-2008, 11:28 AM   #3
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Listing the price of the readers as "about £200" hurts the credibility of the author too.

Bitter experience tells us that any technology that makes it to the UK is almost always priced as if the USD:GBP exchange rate were 1:1. That means that if the devices are indeed released here we can expect the Sony Reader to be priced at £299 and the Kindle at £399.

Also, if we do see the Kindle over here I'd be very surprised if we get free network access thrown in for the life of the device. We might get a years worth of free ebook downloads, if we're lucky.
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lexicon View Post
Listing the price of the readers as "about £200" hurts the credibility of the author too.

Bitter experience tells us that any technology that makes it to the UK is almost always priced as if the USD:GBP exchange rate were 1:1. That means that if the devices are indeed released here we can expect the Sony Reader to be priced at £299 and the Kindle at £399.

Also, if we do see the Kindle over here I'd be very surprised if we get free network access thrown in for the life of the device. We might get a years worth of free ebook downloads, if we're lucky.
Not all readers that reach the UK are priced like that. See Bookeen's Cybook Gen3, sold online for £245 to UK customers, and €350 to other UE countries.
http://www.bookeen.com/shop/ebook-shop.aspx
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Old 02-17-2008, 04:58 PM   #5
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It's not that hard to get stuff shipped across the Atlantic. They can't price them too highly in the UK market or else everyone will just import them instead.
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Old 02-17-2008, 06:01 PM   #6
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Kindle and Sony to be sold in the UK.

But in the US the Sprint EVDO telephone number is built in to the Kindles sold here. Hopefully this is a variable that can be changed like having a new update release, but if it is implemented only in hardware, it won't be that simple.

But believe me, they will do anything to prevent you buying either unit in this country and then bringing it to your real residence outside the US. In business, the monopoly has not gone the way of the dinasaur. Would that it had. I also would like to see celular service telephone numbers be operaterable world wide. But again GSM is not universal as it should be, leaving CDMA also still in use in the US.

Charles Wilkes, San Jose, Calif.

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It's not that hard to get stuff shipped across the Atlantic. They can't price them too highly in the UK market or else everyone will just import them instead.
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Old 02-17-2008, 06:52 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by IreneDelse View Post
Not all readers that reach the UK are priced like that. See Bookeen's Cybook Gen3, sold online for £245 to UK customers, and €350 to other UE countries.
http://www.bookeen.com/shop/ebook-shop.aspx
True, however that is a European product being sold in another European country. I was referring to consumer electronics products first released in the US then in the UK, for those the 1:1 pricing rule seems to hold true more often than not.

Also note that the Gen3 is roughly comparable to the Sony 505 in terms of hardware but is priced at almost £100 more (at the current exchange rate). Consumer electronics items cost more in Europe, people here are used to paying more and companies set their prices accordingly.


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Originally Posted by charlieperry View Post
It's not that hard to get stuff shipped across the Atlantic. They can't price them too highly in the UK market or else everyone will just import them instead.
The reality is that the average person on the street simply can't be bothered with importing stuff. They'll pay the UK store prices or simply avoid the product if they think the price is too high.

Sure a few tech savvy people will do the research and import their Readers from the US (in the same way that a few gaming enthusiasts import consoles from abroad) but nowhere near enough to have any bearing on the retail price.
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Old 02-17-2008, 08:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Lexicon View Post
True, however that is a European product being sold in another European country. I was referring to consumer electronics products first released in the US then in the UK, for those the 1:1 pricing rule seems to hold true more often than not.

Also note that the Gen3 is roughly comparable to the Sony 505 in terms of hardware but is priced at almost £100 more (at the current exchange rate). Consumer electronics items cost more in Europe, people here are used to paying more and companies set their prices accordingly.
It is not quite that bad. Europe devices typically have a longer no hassle warranty which causes them to cost more. USA products are priced without taxes while European products include the VAT tax. There are still higher but not as much as you have indicated.

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Old 02-17-2008, 10:13 PM   #9
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It is not quite that bad. Europe devices typically have a longer no hassle warranty which causes them to cost more. USA products are priced without taxes while European products include the VAT tax. There are still higher but not as much as you have indicated.

Dale
VAT accounts for 17.5%, at least in the UK, and I've never bought the extra warranty time argument. Most warranties don't cover accidental damage, that leaves manufacturing defects or hardware failure due to normal use as a reason for warranty returns.

A manufacturing defect in a piece of consumer electronics it's almost certainly going to come to light fairly quickly so it would be covered under practically any warranty, and if the hardware fails from normal use in under a couple of years then the company shouldn't be selling the device, period.

I'm sure providing extra warranty time does cost some money but there's no way it can be used to justify the huge price hikes we are talking about.

Take the PS3. The basic model is about £200 in the US and about £300 in the UK. £35 of the difference is VAT, that leaves £65 to cover the extra warranty time. Say 1 in 1000 PS3s fail within the extended warranty period, that is they fail during the time when it would be out of warranty in the US but is still in warranty in the UK. That would give Sony £65000 to cover each instance of failure. They could send out gold plated, ruby encrusted PS3s as replacements and still have tens of thousands of pounds left over.

You can do the same sums for any piece of consumer electronics equipment in the UK and come to the same conclusion, we get ripped off big time. Same thing with so-called 'localisation' costs, a process that costs pennies per unit being used to justify vast increases.

The reason things cost so much more over here is simply down to the greed of the companies and the stupidity of the public willing to pay the ludicrous prices they charge.
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Old 02-18-2008, 12:17 AM   #10
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As I said they are higher but not as much as you said. You still didn't add the US taxes onto the US price, which depending on the state could be another 8% or more. I do understand that are still differences but it is not as much as you claimed.

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Old 02-18-2008, 08:21 AM   #11
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The reason things cost so much more over here is simply down to the greed of the companies and the stupidity of the public willing to pay the ludicrous prices they charge.
Well, besides VAT and lengthier warranties, I think there are a few other factors that drive up prices in Europe and the UK before you have to resort to corporate greed to explain the difference. Almost everything over here -- groceries, a pint of beer at a local pub, a night at the cinema, a sandwich from the local deli -- costs much more (sometimes double!) than in the United States, even after accounting for VAT. This can't all be a result of greedy corporations and stupid consumers.

I think the cost of doing business just tends to be higher here: higher wages for store and warehouse employees, higher fuel taxes for the delivery trucks, higher corporate taxes, higher rents, and yes, higher VAT. All of these higher costs must be passed on to the consumer. Also, regulation here tends to limit the ability of larger discount retailers (such as Walmart, etc.) to drive down prices to the detriment of smaller 'mom and pop' stores (which may well be a laudable goal, but it must be admitted that it inflates prices for end consumers).

Even after accounting for all of that, of course, there is certainly still a small price difference that remains. And yes, this can be readily explained by corporations charging whatever the market will bear, with European and UK consumers, long used to paying high prices for everything else (groceries, cinema tickets, fuel), being happy to oblige them.
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Old 02-18-2008, 09:30 AM   #12
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It does cost more to do business in Europe, however the increased costs are often spread over hundreds of thousands (sometimes millions of units). At that level I'm prepared to believe it might cost an extra £3 per unit to store them in a warehouse over here, an extra £3 in fuel costs per unit, maybe an extra £2 per unit to account for higher wages, £1 per unit for the added warranty obligations and £1 per unit to get it past the CE certification and to meet other legal obligations.

We aren't being charged an extra few pounds per item though, we are usually charged 160-200% of the US retail price. Somebody will have to show me hard numbers to get me to believe that anything more than a tiny percentage of the extra cost is justified.

To move back onto the eBook topic I've been considering what the likely price point for the Sony Reader would be if they decide to launch it in the UK. I reckon they'll sell it for £249.99 (about $500), does anybody else have any predictions?
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Old 02-18-2008, 09:36 AM   #13
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I've been considering what the likely price point for the Sony Reader would be if they decide to launch it in the UK. I reckon they'll sell it for £249.99 (about $500), does anybody else have any predictions?

At least....


P.S. At least 8 people saw my reader. Only one lady showed any interest in the reader after learning that the price is £200 including delivery and customs tax (I will have to show the reader to her husband but most likely I will point out CyBook to him because he needs a dictionary (he is a language teacher)).
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Old 02-18-2008, 03:17 PM   #14
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Great news. Hope the Sony Reader does come out in the UK this Spring. I was close to importing one but the lack of warranty has been putting me off. Hopefully now it's a non-issue and I'll be soon reading on the slim little machine Can't wait, it's made my day
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Old 02-18-2008, 05:03 PM   #15
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An interesting thought:

What I see as a huge advantage to the average consumer, especially travellers and voracious readers--wifi/whispernet/whatever--on the Kindle may not work out so well outside the US. Am indeed keen to see how Amazon handles their internet access contracts in the UK, and to see how this affects the sales of both devices.

For the future of technology, kinda hope the Kindle wins. However, since I all ready bought in, hope the SONY wins so that my content survives.
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