What with Barnes & Noble dropping prices on its Nook ($199 and $149 for a basic Wi-Fi version) and Amazon following suit almost immediately by slashing prices on the Kindle (now $189), the competition for e-reader sales reaches a new level of competition.
But the price cuts, writes Rafi Mohammed in a great column over at the Huffington Post, also mean the future is set, and that future is e-books. Mohammed, author of The 1% Windfall: How Successful Companies Use Price to Profit and Grow, reminds us that new technology products are always costly at first - HDTVs, cell phones, hell, VCRs, for that matter - but when their prices drop they are rapidly adapted by consumers.
He writes: "Mass adoption typically results when one manufacturer concludes, "there is a big market for our product and a drop in price will lead to blockbuster sales." After this mass market discount is implemented, rival manufacturers have little choice but to lower their prices too."
He continues: "Instead of wishfully hoping that e-books will remain a niche product, publishers now have to realize that e-books are officially a game changer. If an increasing percentage of readers choose to read electronically, it's foolish to thwart e-book sales (which are more profitable due to cost efficiencies) with tactics such as delaying the digital release for months after the hardcover is in stores. Consumers aren't going to wait."
It would seem authors are getting the message, too. JK Rowling recently agreed to allow her books to be published in e-form, and so did Larry McMurtry. Nobody wants to be left behind, I suppose. Me, I'll wait til they're $50. It could happen, right?