E-Readers at $50: A Best Seller, Says Report

Problem is, today's e-reader costs more than $50 to manufacturer

If you don't already own an e-book reader like the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader, how much would you pay for one? For these devices to attain mass-market appeal, they'll need to be priced as low at US$50, according to a new report by Forrester Research.

Problem is, today's e-reader costs more than $50 to manufacturer, the report says. A 6-inch e-ink screen alone runs about $60. Larger displays, like the Kindle DX's 9.7-inch slate, naturally cost more. E-reader manufacturers will have to find innovative ways to bring costs down, such as adopting the subscription model common among wireless carriers and mobile phone manufacturers. Newspapers and magazines, desperate for a workable business model, would be likely partners:

"Device makers should partner with companies that have incentives to subsidize the device in exchange for a content subscription (newspapers like the Detroit Free Press) or service subscription (mobile carriers like Verizon, which already has a similar model for mobile phones and now netbooks)," the report says.

To drive e-readers down to $99, or even $50, manufacturers could "amortize the true cost of the device with a two-year subscription model," says Forrester, which surveyed 4,706 U.S. online consumers for the report. But even the cleverest of pricing schemes won't turn the e-reader into a mass-market product like the MP3 player.

A key problem is that there just aren't enough bookworms out there: "...the majority of consumers don't care enough about reading or technology to invest in this type of single-purpose device at anything close to realistic prices."

While e-reader prices are falling, they're nowhere near Forrester's projected $50 sweet spot. Sony's new Pocket Reader costs $199, and Amazon recently lowered the Kindle 2 to $299. But that's still too high, particularly when multi-function smartphones and mini-notebooks cost the same or less.

"With new 3G iPhones selling for $199 and a variety of netbooks selling for $300, devices in adjacent categories put the squeeze on eReaders," the report says.

Forrrester does offer a ray of hope, however. While e-readers may never be mass-market devices, they can find a successful niche if manufacturers "innovate to bring prices down."

As I see it, single-use e-readers won't survive for long in the consumer market. Multifunction devices, namely smartphones and tablet computers, will incorporate e-reading features. Like single-use MP3 players, dedicated e-readers will fade away. However, large-screen readers like the Kindle DX may find a profitable niche in some markets, particularly education.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags e-readers

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?