This past week e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook dropped below $200, a first for the increasingly-popular devices. The Kindle now retails for $189, while the Nook is currently pried at $199.
The push to lower costs may have resulted from Apple announcing its new operating system for iPads, iPhones, and iPods: iOS 4. The new operating system reportedly increases battery life during multitasking and opens up the iBooks application to all these devices, among other things.
In particular it is the new widespread availability of the iBooks app that might worry Amazon and Barnes & Noble. When the iPod first debuted, it was just one among many portable mp3 players. However, the iTunes store quickly helped make the iPod the most popular player. Although the iPad already had a possible advantage over the Kindle and Nook with its ability to do much more than simply display books for reading, the proliferation of the iBooks app to Apple’s other portable devices could pose even more of a significant threat to Kindle and Nook sales.
In addition, the new Google electronic bookstore could steal market shares from all three of these devices. The bookstore would allow customers to read books in their browser windows, similar to how Google Books works now.
E-reader sales have been way up this year, nearing three-quarters of a million sold between the Kindle and Nook alone. These new lower costs seem to bode well for consumers and authors. More affordable e-readers on the market means more potential customers for self-published authors of e-books.