E-Readers Push Toward the $0.00 Price Point

We’re not there yet, but getting closer.

German-based txtr has launched a tiny, stripped-down e-ink e-reader for €9.90 ($12.82), subsidized by mobile carriers in the U.S., Europe and Asia that want to get into the e-book business. The price point smashes through the current low in the U.S., which is for the most basic Kindle reader: $69.

With no wires, cables or WiFi, it runs on AAA batteries and readers put books on the txtr beagle using an Android (and soon iOS) app and a Bluetooth connection.

Who might buy such a reader? Perhaps someone who is offered it with their new phone and contract and wants to use it at the beach, in the tub or by the pool without worrying about breaking it.

If consumers are given free e-readers, then e-book prices — low but still the target of consumer complaints — may seem more attractive. So, when will we see a free e-reader? Best answer we’ve heard so far: soon.

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The rest of the day’s top news:

Bookshout! Looks to Do an End-Around Around Amazon, B&N (DBW)
The new start-up aims to help readers build their digital libraries and make reading more social, but the mechanism by which it does that might rub Amazon and Barnes & Noble the wrong way.

Growth in E-Books in Emerging Markets (PW)
E-book adoption in places like India is reaching new heights. Nearly 40% of people there bought an e-book in the past year, up from a third in January. All the more reason to learn all you can about emerging e-book markets.

Misconceptions About E-Books (Appazoogle)
On consumers thinking e-books cost nothing to produce and so should be much cheaper: “We…become fixated on the cost of the package…that we forget about the value and the quality of what is inside.” Related: Breaking Down E-Book Production Costs | And Pricing.

E-Book Bundles for Charity Let’s Readers Set Prices, Profits (BoingBoing)
Three science fiction writers are banding together and bundling their work and allowing readers to set the price and to choose how much of the purchase price goes to the author, the bookseller and a charity that has been chosen. Thousands have already been sold.

Writers Slam Google/Publishers Deal, Call on DOJ to Investigate (DBW)
Several writers groups have banded together to call on the Department of Justice to investigate a deal recently inked between Google and five publishers suing it for scanning their copyrighted material. The deal was not subject to regulatory approval and the terms were kept largely private.

Litigation Ending in EU? (CNBC)
The European Union’s antitrust chief says that a settlement with Apple over e-book price-fixing in Europe will come soon.

HarperCollins on a Subscription (DBW)
The big publisher has signed a deal with Skillsoft, a professional education firm, to make some of its business books available via subscription. It’s a first for the company. Is this part of the rise of e-book subscription services?

New E-Textbook Platform (DBW)
As educational institutions continue to experiment with e-textbooks, publishers are scrambling to figure out how to economically digitize and distribute their content. New platforms are emerging to address that problem.

OverDrive to Expand to School Library Market (DBW)
With the hire of a new general manager focusing on the school library market, library e-book vendor OverDrive is poised to expand into the space.

NetGalley Face Lift (DBW)
NetGalley, a site that helps publishers promote new books to heavy readers and influencers, has added new functionality and has gotten an overall redesign.

Going, Going Gone Girl (USA Today)
Random House’s best-seller Gone Girl has sold 1.5 million e-book and p-book copies. It’s been No. 1 on the DBW E-Book Best-Seller List three times in the past two months.


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