Book publisher challenges Amazon by launching a €40 e-reader

A German book publisher is challenging Amazon and other electronic book makers by releasing a no-frills e-reader which undercuts the Kindle by nearly €40 euros.

Book publisher challenges Amazon by launching a €40 e-reader
Photo: Weltbild

In a statement on its website, publisher Weltbild announced that its eBook Reader 3.0, available from Thursday online, is just €60 in comparison to Amazon’s price of €99 for a Kindle.

That also compares favourably to other competitors’ e-readers. German firm Thalia, for instance, sells its OYO reader for €99.

“The device is very important for our e-book business and our overall strategy,” Weltbild managing director Carel Halff told the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD).

The move is designed to capitalize on a massive shift in the book market that has been putting pressure on retailers to find new ways to get customers reading and buying books. People are increasingly either ordering books online or doing all their reading on the internet, leaving the retail book business in trouble.

Though few Germans use e-readers compared to their counterparts in the United States or other Western European countries – e-books constituted less than 1 percent of sales in 2010 – Augsburg-based Weltbild, which runs book shops throughout the country and maintains an online presence, is banking on staking out a share of a growing market.

The Association of German Booksellers trade group anticipates that e-books could account for 25 percent of total sales in Germany by 2015, the FTD reported.

“We stand on the threshold of a new era,” said Alexander Skipis, the head of the organization.

Halff said he saw e-readers as a future growth segment, with only a few remaining players having the potential to deeply penetrate the German e-book market. Those include American firms such as Google, Amazon and Apple but also a few German firms including Weltbild and Thalia, he said.

The key to success, Halff told FTD was to keep things simple.

“Experience shows from America: The winners are devices with very simple features,” Halff said.

The Local/mdm

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German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.


With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.