Without Affordable E-readers, Can an E-book Market Grow?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

Some will argue that cell phones will suffice, but does the market bear this out?

By Edward Nawotka

kindle

Today’s feature story looks at the slow but steady growth of the Brazilian e-book market. In Brazil an entry level iPad will run you $1,000. A latest generation e-ink reader, such as the iRiver Story, which is available at Livraria Cultura, will run you more than $500. These prices are consistent across Latin America and, as a result, the e-book market has been slow to grow.

In Asia, and China in particular, the situation in somewhat different, as Chinese manufacturers rush to market with inexpensive devices. An e-ink Bambook, for example, will only run you about $89, and the market is booming.

And, as we all know, it took the introduction of the Kindle in the US — at a not insignificant price point of US$400 — to launch the e-book gold rush.

To what extent is the e-book market in a developing nation dependent on affordable e-readers? Some will argue that cell phones will suffice, but does the market bear this out? Are publishers, ultimately, unwilling to convert books to a cell-phone friendly formats due to some psychological barrier which suggest that the content itself is diminished in some way — and the price point needs to be pushed down with it?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.