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

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

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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