"Will pricing matter?" ZDNet
asked in reporting the launch yesterday of Sony's new line of touch screen e-readers
. "The catch is that Sony's line carries higher price points relative to rivals Amazon and Barnes & Noble." The Pocket's SRP is $179, the Touch is $229 and the Daily Edition--the only one with wi-fi and 3G connectivity--is $299.
Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading unit, contends that cut-throat pricing has been overrated as a sales incentive, Forbes
reported. "Our original thinking was that we needed to hit a lower price point," said Haber. "But folks kept stepping up to purchase our higher end products. Price is not the main component of this business. It's the user experience."Forbes
observed, however, that Sony "faces major challenges in the e-reader market. Perhaps in a bid to gain more international market share and avoid complex dealmaking with wireless carriers, the company no longer offers wireless connectivity in either the Touch Edition or Pocket Edition, a definite black mark against those devices when compared to the Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook."
In a related development, the Motley Fool
's analysis of the e-reader market and Amazon's Kindle deal with Staples (Shelf Awareness
, September 1, 2010) has led to a change of heart regarding prior skepticism about Amazon's "initial foray into bricks-and-mortar distribution" with Target.
Citing this summer's e-reader price wars, which escalated again this week when Borders cut prices on two e-reading devices, the Motley Fool
noted Amazon "won't necessarily have to respond directly to the latest round of price cuts," and suggested the Borders move was "probably a bigger affront" to B&N's Nook and Sony's e-book readers. "They're all trying to position themselves as the viable Kindle alternative--and that skirmish will most likely come down to price. Just three years ago, Amazon hit the market with a $399 Kindle. They grow up--and get marked down--so fast these days."
reads, she reads. While acknowledging that the e-book vs. print book
debate "is wreaking havoc inside the publishing industry," the New York Times
observed that "inside homes, the plot takes a personal twist as couples find themselves torn over the 'right way' to read."
example, editor Alexandra Ringe and her husband, writer Jim Hanas,
"fell in love over books, with one of their early dates at a used-book
festival in Manhattan. They married in a SoHo bookstore and live in an
apartment in the Park Slope neighborhood with floor-to-ceiling
bookshelves. She collects vintage yearbooks and self-help books. But he
likes to read on his iPhone."
The battle lines are being drawn
with remarkable speed. Market research company Forrester predicts that
by the end of 2010, 10.3 million people are expected to own e-readers in
the U.S., buying about 100 million e-books. This is up from 3.7 million
e-readers and 30 million e-books sold last year, the Times
At the latest Apple summit yesterday, CEO Steve Jobs took time out from the hoopla surrounding new product launches to share some updated iTunes sales numbers, noting that customers have downloaded 35 million books, 11.7 billion songs, more than 4.3 million TV episodes and 100 million movies.
---Jeremiah's Vanishing New York
reported that Jonathan Franzen frenzy didn't strike at Manhattan's St. Mark's Bookshop
, which offered extended hours for the midnight release Freedom
. When the books were finally unveiled, "there was a barely discernible ripple of acknowledgment from the patrons. [The bookseller] placed a handful of copies on the New Fiction shelf, mixed in among the other authors whose names begin with F."
Tonight, A Novel Adventure
bookstore, Boise, Idaho, will host its final First Thursday celebration. The following notice was posted on the bookshop's website: "It is with great sadness that we will be closing our storefront location after September 2, 2010. We are moving all of our selling efforts online. We have loved being in and around--and in some small way an important part of--the downtown community of Boise for so many years."
A book busking fundraiser held recently at Australian indie Pages & Pages Booksellers
to benefit the Indigenous Literacy Project (Shelf Awareness
, August 10, 2010) raised more than a thousand dollars. The Green Eggs & Ham
duo in this video
garnered the most donations.
Author Neal Stephenson is co-founder and chairman of Subutai Corp.
, a new digital publishing company that "has developed what it calls the PULP platform for creating digital novels. The core of the experience is still a text novel, but authors can add additional material like background articles, images, music, and video. There are also social features that allow readers to create their own profiles, earn badges for activity on the site or in the application, and interact with other readers," the New York Times
"I can remember reading Dune
for the first time, and I started by reading the glossary," he said. "Any book that had that kind of extra stuff in it was always hugely fascinating to me."
Subutai's launch publication will be a serialized story, The Mongoliad
, featuring a new chapter each week. It will cost $5.99 for a six-month subscription or $9.99 for the year. Stephenson is writing the book with a team--led by Mark Teppo--that includes novelist Greg Bear.
Scholastic is "taking a new approach to getting its books into classrooms" this year, the New York Times
reported, noting that the publisher "plans to reach teachers using a combination of social networking, expanded e-commerce and new back-to-school promotions, in addition to the standard paper catalogues."
"There’s just a tremendous amount of volatility and movement,” said Judy A. Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs. The times cited numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics indicating that "of the 3,867,600 public and private school teachers in the United States in the 2008-9 school year, about 7%, or 279,700, moved to a different school and about 9%, or 347,100, left the profession."
"The 2009 school year was particularly difficult because of the economic climate," Newman said. "There was a tremendous amount of dislocation and uncertainty."
"Not since Vietnam have so many books and movies been produced about an American War," the Daily Beast
wrote to introduce its list of the "Best Movies and Books on Iraq."
"After all, if I don't help myself, who will?" On NPR.org
, Lisa Unger recommended three books for the self-help skeptic: The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
by Don Miguel Ruiz, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui
by Karen Kingston and Positive Energy: 10 Extraordinary Prescriptions for Transforming Fatigue, Stress and Fear into Vibrance, Strength and Love
by Judith Orloff.
Charting the night sky... for aliens. Mark Pilkington, author Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs--The Weird Truth Behind UFOs
, chose his top 10 books about UFOs for the Guardian
"The UFO arena acts as a kind of vivarium for a range of psychological, sociological and anthropological experiences, beliefs, conditions and behaviors," Pilkington wrote. "They remind us that the Unknown and the Other are still very much at large in our modern world, and provide us with a fascinating glimpse of folklore in action. A tiny few UFO reports also still present us with genuine mysteries."
Book trailer of the day: The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven: How a Ragtag Group of Fans Took the Fall for Major League Baseball
by Aaron Skirboll (Chicago Review Press).