new Kindle 3 orders now shipping Sept 10th, $99 Kindle cries grow louder

It seems the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are continuing to sell really well. New preorders will now ship only on September 10th (thanks to Joe S. for the news).

Past preorders are safe – If you ordered in the first few days (think the cut-off is July 31st, 7 pm) then your Kindle 3 should ship August 27th and if you ordered in the next few days after that you should have your Kindle 3 shipped on or before September 4th.

The slowly increasing delay of new Kindle 3 orders

We’ve seen shipping dates slowly pushed further and further out – August 27th to September 4th to September 8th to September 10th. It seems that people are buying enough to keep pushing out the date a little bit at a time.

Once the Kindle 3 is actually out and reviews and videos start being published we might see the Kindle 3 sold out with delays much longer than the current 2 weeks. It’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Slate gets on the $99 Kindle bandwagon

It seems almost everyone is beginning to subscribe to the theory that we’ll soon see the Kindle WiFi and other eReaders at $99.

Farhad Manjoo at Slate writes a rather up and down post on the $99 Kindle

Does it make more sense to wait a few months for Crazy Jeffy to go even lower?

I think so. I rarely make predictions about the tech business, but here goes: Before the holidays, Amazon will cut the price of the Wi-Fi Kindle to $99, and the 3G version will go for $150 or less.

Why am I so confident that the Amazon will slide under the $100 threshold? For one thing, because it probably can.

There are some interesting claims in the article – that there will be a $99 Kindle well before Christmas, that Kindle 3 will drop to $150, that Amazon will have enough stock and won’t sell out of Kindle 3 during Christmas 2010, that there will be ‘unbelievable demand’ for eReaders when they’re under $100.

Have to admit Slate has a point – it’s looking likelier and likelier that we will indeed see the Kindle WiFi at $99 before 2010 is over.

The mythical $99 eReader is already here

No, it’s not the $139 Kindle WiFi we’re talking about – though you have to admit the difference between $99 and $139 isn’t very much.

We are talking about all the eReaders that are already available for $99.

$99 eReaders already available

Newegg already has three eReaders for $99 –

  1. Astak Mentor is down from $279.99 to $99.99.  
  2. Foxit eSlick is down from $299.99 to $99.99. Not recommended since the company has gone bankrupt and support is likely to be non-existent. 
  3. Until yesterday the Bookeen Cybook Opus was at $99.99. It’s now missing and presumably sold out.

Thanks to commenters at MobileRead for these updates.

The $99 eReaders are pretty decent

These aren’t terrible eReaders –

  1. Cybook Opus has a 5″ screen, weighs just 5.3 ounces, has 1 GB of memory, and has a 200 dpi eInk screen. It also has an accelerometer. It supports ePub and PDF. It used to be $249, then was selling at NewEgg for $199, and yesterday its price was cut to $99.
  2. Foxit eSlick used to be $299. It’s still available. It’s .4″ thick and weighs just 6.4 ounces. It has an SD card slot. It also supports ePub and PDF. It has a 6″ eInk screen with 4 levels of gray.
  3. Astak Mentor used to be $279. It has a 6″ enk screen and supports ePub and PDF. It has 170 dpi screen resolution. It supports Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

These are decentish eReaders – Astak and Foxit are rated 3 stars and Cybook Opus is rated 4 stars (explains why it sold out). Now, all three have been dropped from the $250 to $300 price range to $99.

The Cybook at $99 is a steal – Didn’t realize it had 200 dpi and was just 5.3 ounces until now or would have bought it.

Kindle WiFi as the destroyer of eReader worlds

Why are these $250 and $300 eReaders being discounted to $100?

Well, you have the Kindle WiFi come in at $139 with the new eInk Pearl screen and a dozen different improvements – It blows away everything else.

If eReader companies want to clear stock they have to price their eReaders below $139 and the most convenient price point below $139 is $100. At $99 you break a major threshold – Apparently, there are a lot of people won’t buy an eReader unless it’s below the magical $100 figure.

Everyone’s moving towards $99 eReaders

It’s not just the bankrupt companies and the smart, tiny companies that are moving to $100. The Big 3 (Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader) are moving to $100 too –

  1. Nook WiFi came in at $149 and started the trend. Though perhaps we should credit Kobo.
  2. The Kindle WiFi came in at just $139. That affected everyone – especially as it has the new eInk Pearl screen.
  3. Sony Store now has the Pocket Edition PRS 300 for $149 with a free $25 gift card.  
  4. Kobo is down to $128 at Walmart until end of the week. By the way, the geniuses at Kobo don’t have a link to buy the Kobo on their ebooks site (update: there’s one hidden in the bottom navigation bar). We know your eReader isn’t as good as Kindle or Nook but at least let readers make up their own minds.   
  5. P. C. Richard & Son has Sony PRS 300 for $99.96. 

All the claims that we’re going to see $99 eReaders by the end of the year are missing the fact that we already have $99 eReaders.

$99 eReaders are ALREADY here and they’re selling out

The Cybook Opus is a great example of a $250 eReader that has no choice expect to price itself at $99 to survive.

It’s a pretty good eReader. The 4 star rating proves it. These are all people who bought it for $199.

Would anyone consider Cybook Opus at $199 or $250 when Kindle WiFi is just $139? For that matter, would anyone consider Cybook Opus at $139 given the Kindle WiFi has the new eInk Pearl screen?

The only option left for Bookeen is to price the Cybook Opus at $99, get rid of stock, and go back to the drawing board.

The Press is predictably behind the curve

The focus of the Press has been on how the more expensive eReaders are struggling. However, the $200 and $250 eReaders are struggling far more.

The Press felt that the Kindle at $139 meant that we would see $99 eReaders by end of the year. It didn’t realize that there are a lot of 2nd generation eReaders that just can’t compete with the new $139 Kindle WiFi and that these newly outdated eReaders would have to drop to $99 to sell their stock.

The mythical $99 eReader is already here.

It’s got the same screen as the Kindle 2 did. It’s got ePub and PDF support. It’s available in 5″ and 6″ versions and it’s pretty good. It has to sell for $99 because the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi have bypassed it on both price and technology and its only option is to go from $250 to $99.

The $139 Kindle WiFi has brought us $99 eReaders – It’s done it about 5 months ahead of the most optimistic predictions.

Why did Sony Reader Touch outsell Pocket Edition?

Sony, earlier in the year, revealed that they saw a quadrupling of sales during the 2009 holiday period, when compared with the 2008 holiday season. They also mentioned they were surprised to see the $299 Sony Reader Touch Edition sell more than the $199 Sony Pocket Edition.

The latter insight has been bothering me for a long, long time.

How could a $299 eReader outsell a $199 eReader?

The holy grail for people who think eReaders can’t take off is that eReaders are priced too high. They want eReaders for $150 and $100 and some even want $50 eReaders.

Yet, here we have a $299 eReader outselling a $199 eReader.

Take a look at videos of the two eReaders at my Kindle vs Sony Touch review post and Kindle vs Sony Pocket Edition post.

Each reader has its own strengths –

  • The Touch Edition has touch, freehand drawing, a larger screen (6″ compared to the pocket edition’s 5″ screen), a SD card slot (and a Memory Stick PRO Duo slot), a built-in dictionary, and it supports audio.
  • The Pocket Edition has better screen contrast (the pocket edition has best contrast of all ereaders, touch edition suffers a bit from glare due to the touch layer), it’s $100 cheaper, it’s lighter and more compact.

The reason why the Touch Edition outsold the Pocket Edition eludes me – all the experts and analysts say price is critical and the Pocket Edition is $100 cheaper.

How could it possibly sell less?    

Should eReader companies ignore the $100 price targets analysts are setting?

If eReader companies listen to the people claiming that the secret is a $100 eReader with no frills they might end up like the Pocket Edition i.e. getting outsold by a more expensive eReader that offers better value for money.

  1. Is the demand for $100 eReaders fuelled primarily by people who won’t ever really buy an eReader?
  2. Is it fuelled by people who might buy an eReader but will never buy enough eBooks to help Books and Publishing?

People certainly don’t seem to be buying cheaper eReaders – Why then are analysts claiming lower prices are the secret?

What possible explanation is there for a $199 eReader being outsold by a $299 eReader that is only somewhat better?

Is there a big, huge gulf – We either pay $299 or we pay $99.

Perhaps there are millions of people just waiting for eReaders to drop below $100 and won’t buy an eReader before that – even at $101.

Or is it that we are approaching things from the completely wrong angle – Perhaps people who read a lot are willing to spend $250 or $300 for an exceptional eReader. Perhaps what they really want is an exceptionally good eReader at a price that’s good value for their money.

What is the real eReader target market and what is their ideal price?

Should we be looking at only people who read more than a book a month.

We have a lot of people buying $259 and $299 eReaders. We have many people with multiple eReaders. We have lots of people upgrading their eReader every year.

Perhaps it’s time to focus on the best eReader for these people – these people are the real customers and they are the future of books and publishing.

Perhaps the aim should be to create a perfect product for the core target audience of readers and not to create a sub-standard $100 toy eReader for the entire population of the world – the majority of whom don’t even read.

The $100 eReader and the magical tens of millions of people who would buy it might just be figments of our imagination. They might just be people who don’t value books and reading – We create a $99 eReader and they either won’t buy it or not use it often enough to be valuable customers.

When people say they want $100 eReaders are they saying ‘That’s what I’d pay and I’ll definitely buy one’ or are they saying ‘An eReader is only worth $100 and I’d never buy one’.

Perhaps a $250 price is the best test of customers having good intent.