Kindle Lone Wolf in Race to Drop E-Reader Prices

Kindle Lone Wolf in Race to Drop E-Reader PricesAmazon, although it is in a tug-of-war with Apple for the hearts and minds of publishers, may have a more immediate concern when it comes to other e-book rivals, such as Barnes & Noble and Borders: pricing. While Apple has staked-out the higher-end, the makers of the Nook and Kobe e-readers are rushing toward the lower-end, leaving the Internet retailer in a lonely position. However, Amazon could lower its Kindle’s $259 price tag very soon, one analyst suggests.

The Kindle could drop below $200 “before the end of summer,” according to Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney. In May, brick-and-mortar bookseller Borders introduced the $149 Kobe e-reader, joining competition from Barnes & Noble’s Nook. The Nook in March forced Amazon to also find a retail partner, Target, to get the Kindle on the radar of non-Internet shoppers. Possibly forcing Amazon’s hand was a DigiTimes report that the Nook had captured more than half of the U.S. e-reader market.

The Nook placed even more pressure on the Kindle, when Barnes & Noble announced Monday it would cut to $149 the price of the Wi-Fi-only version of its e-reader and drop the 3G version to $199 from $259.

An additional reason why Amazon may soon lower the Kindle’s price came in May, when CEO Jeff Bezos told analysts a color e-reader that might better compete with Apple’s iPad was “still a long way out.” Also pointing to a possible sub-$200 Kindle was news a couple months ago from chipmaker Freescale that it was at the time about six months away from providing Amazon with new chips that could lower the e-reader’s price.

Mahaney did offer Amazon some hope against Apple. The Seattle-based Kindle e-book seller offered 88 percent of the New York Times’ best sellers versus 63 percent for Apple’s iBooks store.

About the author

Ed SutherlandEd Sutherland is a veteran technology journalist who first heard of Apple when they grew on trees, Yahoo was run out of a Stanford dorm and Google was an unknown upstart. Since then, Sutherland has covered the whole technology landscape, concentrating on tracking the trends and figuring out the finances of large (and small) technology companies.

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