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Old 11-08-2006, 10:56 AM   #1
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Sony Reader reviewed by MIT Technology Review

The Sony Reader was reviewed by Wade Roush yesterday, in the article A Good Read, and he had a lot of positive things to say about it. The only significant negative he presents is the high cost of e-book content. "In fact, I'd say the Sony Reader is the first e-book device that's good enough to appeal to a large swath of readers, even given its hefty $350 price tag." That's exactly what has excited e-book fans recently - the arrival of a device that can appeal to an average book reader.

Speaking of what it will take to make e-books popular, he says "E-books may not be seen as a viable alternative to print books until they're so cheap that their ephemerality doesn't matter. Until publishers and hardware makers can turn e-books into a sensible economic proposition, the way Apple's iTunes Store has done with $0.99 downloadable songs and $1.99 TV shows, I fear the technology will languish."

He sees inexpensive content as being inevitable and necessary for the success of the Reader. "The prospect of a $1.99 bestselling novel is unthinkable within today's publishing culture--yet every author and publisher knows in his or her heart that e-books will, at some point in this century, begin to outsell print books. What may be most significant about the Sony Reader, then, is that by bringing the technology of e-reading up to snuff, it is clearing the way for inevitable changes in the economics of publishing."

Unfortunately, those changes may take time, so he considers it to be a device that is before its time. "Whether those changes come about soon enough to keep Sony's device on store shelves is doubtful. But I believe they will happen, just as surely as iTunes and the iPod have upended the music business."

While e-books are unlikely to replace the role of paper books, one cannot help but feel like the e-book revolution is coming, and the Sony Reader's appeal to the general public brings hope that we're beginning to turn the corner. As always... time will tell.
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:13 AM   #2
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With iTunes a single song might be $0.99 but a complete album is $9.99, it has to be kept in mind because there is no physical media for a single to compare with.

I believe the balance point for the popularity of ebooks will be around 30% of the paper book value. And I'd wish a higher margin for the authors compared to paper.
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:21 AM   #3
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I've said from the beginning that Sony needed to work on the economic model for the Reader.

How many books will the average Reader owner purchase in a year? Let's say 30 (which I think is high for most of them.)

The life span of a Sony Reader is likely to be at most 2 years. So most owners will purchase at most 60 titles for it. That means a Reader owner is paying $5 per ebook before they've even purchased the ebook.

So next time you are in the Sony Connect Store, remember to add $5 to each of those prices and ask yourself "How good a deal am I really getting?"

With that kind of price premium for ebooks I can understand why some folks are upset they didn't get a supplemental photon emitter with their Reader.
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty1024
I've said from the beginning that Sony needed to work on the economic model for the Reader.

How many books will the average Reader owner purchase in a year? Let's say 30 (which I think is high for most of them.)

The life span of a Sony Reader is likely to be at most 2 years. So most owners will purchase at most 60 titles for it. That means a Reader owner is paying $5 per ebook before they've even purchased the ebook.

So next time you are in the Sony Connect Store, remember to add $5 to each of those prices and ask yourself "How good a deal am I really getting?"

With that kind of price premium for ebooks I can understand why some folks are upset they didn't get a supplemental photon emitter with their Reader.
Right! A reader built in Asia will satisfy both price and number availability.
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:30 AM   #5
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I was discussing this with a good friend of mine when he first discovered the Baen model a few years back. He had the idea, and I still like it, that ebooks would become the next step in the chain after paperback. So, the hardcover would come out at $20-$25, the paperback would follow 6-12 months later at $8-$12, and the ebook 6-9months after paperback at anohter 50%-60% off the paperback price.

I can't say I want to wait that long for ebooks, but I get the same way about paperbacks now. It makes sense to me.

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Old 11-08-2006, 02:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack B Nimble
I was discussing this with a good friend of mine when he first discovered the Baen model a few years back. He had the idea, and I still like it, that ebooks would become the next step in the chain after paperback. So, the hardcover would come out at $20-$25, the paperback would follow 6-12 months later at $8-$12, and the ebook 6-9months after paperback at anohter 50%-60% off the paperback price.

I can't say I want to wait that long for ebooks, but I get the same way about paperbacks now. It makes sense to me.

Jack
Please note that many books never come out as hardcover and the authors apparently still make a living. Only the better selling authors usually come out in hardcover first.
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Old 11-08-2006, 02:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty1024
The life span of a Sony Reader is likely to be at most 2 years.
It had better last longer than that for a $350 device, to say nothing of all the content I've bought so far.
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Old 11-08-2006, 02:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slayda
Please note that many books never come out as hardcover and the authors apparently still make a living. Only the better selling authors usually come out in hardcover first.
True, but the basic idea still stands. If book premiers in paperback, the ebook still comes out some months later, at a substantial discount.

And this works for existing books as well. With nearly zero merginal cost for additional shelf space, and very low marginal cost for delivery, the existing catalog of out of print books should be a nice treasure. Of course, the inital digitization is still a substantial cost in many cases, depending on what format they have retained the books in.

The editor (or was it the publisher?) of Wired magazine was on NPR a few weeks ago talking about how the music industry has found people buying a much wider variety of music, and a lot of old and obscure titles, now that the variety is actually presented to them as an option. As opposed to the old model in which only a select few 'hits' actually made it to the shelves of Walmart, Tower, et cetera, and only certain specialty shops carried the obscure titles.

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Old 11-08-2006, 03:54 PM   #9
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Jack - you must be referring to Chris Anderson who wrote about the concept of the long tail. It's exactly suited to the publishing industry because the publishing industry makes the majority of its money on backlist titles (as do authors). Having a title out of print makes no money for anyone except used bookstores. The authors don't get a cut of it and neither do the publishers. Making those out of print books available in ebook format can reduce the number of used book sales. It can also allow publishers to take more risks because of low overhead (distribution and print costs being virtually eliminated).

I am an ebook purchaser and frankly would have no problem paying regular paperback or hardcover prices for an ebook so long as I "owned" the ebook free of DRM. I also like Simon and Schuster's ebook pricing model which is 40% off its list price.
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Old 11-08-2006, 06:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmeister0
It had better last longer than that for a $350 device, to say nothing of all the content I've bought so far.
I seriously doubt most readers will last longer than 2 years.

1. Color is coming in the next two years.
2. The battery won't last that long. Some will start to feel the battery pinch them in the next 8 months.
3. The e-Ink panels so far don't seem to be quite as stable as TFT LCD's...
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Old 11-08-2006, 09:46 PM   #11
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2 years seems to be the right age for most high tech -- laptops, computers, PDAs, MP3/Video players. The industry doesn't make money by you buying a single reader and using it for eight years. This isn't to say that they've built in obsolescence, but as time goes on, you're going to get a new device. First the warranty will expire, then the batter will not hold as high of a charge, then the screen shows problems like getting slower. There are a lot of reasons why you might want to move on and Sony hopes that you do!
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Old 11-08-2006, 10:20 PM   #12
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Wow.

tcv, I hope that you know you made me very, very sad. There are few things that I own, for which I paid $200+ that I do not expect to last for five years. If my Treo 650 starts to crap out in a month (the one year anniversary), I plan to send them a very annoying e.mail, as well as calling them every day for a month to protest their horrible product. My PalmPhone is on 24 hours a day, and has been since last November. I can buy a new battery--and from one thread on this forum, I know that I can open a Reader and get to the battery to replace it.

There's a constant debate here regarding DRM software & e-book price. I think that few people here on either side of those debates will sit idly by when their $350 device dies in a year. I could see *Every* owner of a Reader being very angry with SONY, and telling two friends, who tell two friends....

Anyway, I think that five years is a much better/attainable lifespan for a tech. device. And I hope that I am proven correct
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Old 11-08-2006, 11:15 PM   #13
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I'd like to see it become obsolete, but not because it stops working -- I'd like to be able to read Connect e-books on it for a decade or longer. But I'm hoping it becomes "obsolete" in the sense that there are lots of better models models on the market. But it's very pleasant to use, so even if better readers come out, I think I'll still like it.
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Old 11-09-2006, 01:34 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scotty1024
2. The battery won't last that long. Some will start to feel the battery pinch them in the next 8 months.
You're clearly thinking of the iLiad, after 8 months I'll only have charged my Reader a dozen times or so.
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Old 11-09-2006, 01:46 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cthulhu
I think that few people here on either side of those debates will sit idly by when their $350 device dies in a year. I could see *Every* owner of a Reader being very angry with SONY, and telling two friends, who tell two friends....
OK, please tell two friends: my Sony Librie ebook reader? The battery compartment failed. I can no longer use it on battery power and in several other places the case is falling apart, in a manner much like that described in Fahrenheit 451 (additive in the plastic.)

I paid $450 for it and got 18 months. It didn't even make it two years.

Several people I know do well to finish even 1 book a month. $350 into 24 = $14 per book to own the Reader itself.

Clearly you need to be planning on reading more than a few books every month to get the overhead down on the reading device.
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