Does this surprise anyone? has a story about a Chinese-made eBook reader that bears a striking resemblance to Amazon’s Kindle. Read the story here.

What’s surprising, when we look at the rumored $210 price tag and year-end release, is that the North American companies insist on leaving this price gap in their defenses. After its release in China, it will only be a matter of time before its ‘developer’ Peking University Founder Group sells them at Wal-mart at half that price.

North American companies might be able to profiteer before its arrival in western stores, but that’s time that could be better spent capturing the marketplace with competitively priced eBook Readers.

Is Commonsense Catching on?

Sourcebooks is releasing 14 mass market romance novels under its Casablanca imprint as DRM-free eBooks. They’ll be priced at $6.99 and available in nine formats at Smashwords.

While Sourcebooks stops short of a wholesale endorsement of DRM-free eBooks, their actions do suggest they’re responding to the marketplace instead of trying to control it like so many other publishers. Read the full story here at Publishers Weekly.

Before you know it, publishers will begin to let demand dictate price, yah?

More on the “Freemium” Business Model

We talked before about the concept of ‘Freemium’ here.

The New York Times Sunday Book Review offers a more in-depth analysis of ‘giving it all away’ in Virginia Postrel’s article:  “What you pay for $0.00.”

An excellent piece, that breaks it all down quite nicely, though absent again, I have to say is any mention of the effect of ‘fairly priced goods’ on the idea of selling cheap and easy to replicate products.

That’s the real issue. Digital content providers who overcharge create a demand for shared or pirated versions. As the article says, people will pay for what they love, but they know when someone’s taking advantage of them, yah?

Rupert Murdoch’s About-face

Bajillionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced plans to invest in his own mysterious full-color eReader back in April of this year. Read about that here.

Now Slashgear is reporting that Murdoch’s publishing empire will be focusing on subscriptions to existing eReaders.  Murdoch said: “We’re very happy to have our products distributed over any device provided it’s only going to subscribers who are paying for it.”

You have to wonder what changed his mind. Did he realize that he was too far behind the leaders and catching up was an expensive undertaking that couldn’t guarantee success?

Sounds like it, yah?

Profit is Relative

Publishers are worried that will eventually force them to lower their eBook prices and diminish their profits. An excellent article here at claims that publishers now make “$2.15 per digital book versus 26 cents for a print copy” and they’re afraid that’s dominance of the eBook sales market will give the online eBook giant profit-slashing bargaining power and control.

I’m still wondering where publishers establish these figures. What are the actual costs of producing an eBook? (Show me…) Is their profit model based on the paper book business model or the digital? If those numbers are correct then at $9.99 per digital copy (right around the price of an ‘actual’ paperback) one wonders what the other costs are. Since there is no manufacturing (other than layout and file conversion), storage (other than mirror internet locations for an approx. 1 MB file), and no shipping to speak of (except for the download and cost of maintaining a web presence) then where does the other  $7.84 go? 

I have a hard time believing it is split between the writer, advertisers and Rent on a virtual warehouse? I just want to know how this works if the end price of the paperback version is about the same, but carries ‘real world’ costs.

Something fishy here, yah? Is it possible that these companies will continue to expose their soft underbellies in an effort to justify profiteering from eBooks, and in the process show us how much they want to overcharge? Honestly, can’t they see what they’re doing? Do they think the consumer is stupid? Consumers want to pay a fair price for a product. They don’t have a responsibility to maintain a publishing company’s pre-digital age profits. The publishers have to change to suit the new market or face extinction.

Amazon BLINKS! Lowers Kindle 2 price to $299…

We’ve been predicting this for a long time. Amazon has been forced to lower the price of its Kindle 2 from $359 to $299 in order to stay relevant in the exploding eBook Revolution.

Get the full story about the $60 price cut from the Associated Press here.

I can’t believe it took so long, but there it is. Instead of controlling the market and dictating terms, Amazon has been forced to compete.

Now Sony will have to drop the price of its eBook reader under $299. And once that starts happening, it’s just a matter of time until… 

$299 is still too much for the average household, and they know it. This is the start of a pricing freefall that will result in the $99 eBook reader, yah?

Freemium? Okay… cute name, why not…

This article at the Los Angeles Times takes a short but effective stab at describing the new eBook business model. Read the full story here.

The gist of it is: “give away the basic version to build your initial audience, then sell them premium features, such as the ability to download the book or having a physical copy.” It’s kind of straightforward logic; but in that model the hard cover or paperback version of the book becomes the PREMIUM version that people will pay for. I can see that happening, as long as they’re not asking an arm and a leg.

It’s a sensible solution. The charm of ‘physical’ books will stay with us for a long time to come, and the paperback becomes the extra feature you pay for, yah?

$249 Ditto eBook Reader has Arrived

Coming out of the blocks looking a lot like front-runner Amazon’s Kindle 2, the ‘wired’ eBook reader DITTO has leapt into the race with a crowd pleasing price of $249. Read the story at Publisher’s Weekly here. (Ditto = Digital Interface Total Text Organizer… glad they went with Ditto…)

It’s clear that Kindle 2’s solid $359 price tag is a proclammation that Amazon is only interested in nursing an expensive ‘hard-cover’ mindset among the economic north side of mainstream adopters leaving a $110 gap that Ditto sounds quite capable of filling.

The Ditto is priced for a wider mainstream eager to join the eBook Revolution. Similar to the affordable Cool-ER, the Ditto has a 6” inch black & white e-ink screen, reads text and PDF as well as the universal epub format, plays MP3 sound files and boasts a long battery life. On top of that it’s SD card slot expandable up to 2GB of storage will allow you to load a full library of works through its USB connection.

Now, imagine when Ditto or Cool-er opens up the market with a $99 version, yah?

Wattpad Contest for eBook-to-Print Cover

Remember We talked about them before, here. They offer eBooks for a wide variety of Mobile devices. Writers and publishers are using Wattpad to show off their wares, and users can add their two cents offering eBooks, reviews or original stories. Really kind of cool, yah?

Now they’re offering a little something for digital artists and photographers. Called “the Blind Truth Cover Contest,” they want you to: ‘Create your own cover art for “The Blind Truths About Vampires, Werewolves, Witches”. The winner’s art will be featured on the cover of the print version of the book!’ The winner also gets a copy of the book and a $50 Amazon gift certificate. Wattpad gets a ton of traffic so it’s worth putting something into the running. The deadline is September 30, 2009. Get the details here.

Rumble in Googletown

In case anyone wondered if there was a future in eBooks, look at how much money and time Google’s putting into their Google Book Search. And it gives you an idea of the kind of MEGACOMPANY Google has become.  (And the kind of position they want in the eBook Revolution.)

Their book scanning plan was considered copyright infringement not long after it started when they scanned without always getting the approval of authors and publishers. So authors and publishers filed suit.

After lengthy court proceedings Google agreed to pay $125 million toward creating a Book Rights Registry to locate and register copyright owners and they would use the funds to settle existing claims. In exchange Google would be able to display larger selections of ‘in-copyright’ work.

Now the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the settlement for possible antitrust violations. Read the full story at PCWorld here.

Google obviously believes in the Revolution, yah?