image In reporting on e-books, the press so often fixates on E Ink machines, maybe because they’re popping up in more and more in luxury hotel lobbies and in the upscale lounges of airports. But many value-minded people will be trying out e-books for the first time on netbooks, which can be used for email and the Web—in short, for much more than book reading. Just how low could prices go?

Would you believe, Hewlett Packard  has given Flextronics an order for two million netbooks for next year, according to reports in a Chinese-language paper picked up by Digitimes. The “manufacturing quote”—not the price you’d pay from a store—is $45 compared to the usual $70+. When all’s said and done, could we be looking at some popular new netbooks going well below $200 by the end of 2010, even without phone subscription plans?

As quickly as e-books are growing, netbooks aren’t exactly laggards. Year-to-year sales of netbooks grew 264 percent in the second quarter of 2009, according to a DisplaySearch report cited in eWeek. Who knows what the sales will be next year? But now screen technology such as Pixel Qi—which comes with e-book-reading modes—can only help.

Now the logical question: Should publishers think about bundling e-books with netbooks through special arrangements with HP and other vendors—just as Sony has worked out deals with Hachette to offer titles for e-readers? Perhaps, too, public domain projects such as Gutenberg could get in on the act, with free books showing up on the netbooks’ hard drives.

Image credit: CC-licensed photo from Axel Buhrmann.

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  1. David,

    I just feel the whole sub $400 – $500 market is evolving rapidly. Teleread has been featuring a variety of posts on all of the different devices coming to the market. Some how I think that Apple and HP and a few other major players – maybe even Google and Microsoft are about to release a variety of multiple option devices that can do streaming video, ebooks, music, internet radio, etc. I have the feeling that some kind of device will be brought out that has a combination of hardware and software components that will be able to be selected as add-ons much the same way we select different features when we “build” a computer.

    I’m also wondering whether or not there isn’t a place for a device about the size of a Kindle or Nook that a smartphone could “dock” or slip into out of. No matter, I think we’re coming to a touch screen thingy that allows you to take a piece of it when you go to work, shopping etc. The internet cloud is getting bigger all the time. In my area Optimum Online is stringing Wi-Fi hotspots all the way from near New Haven, CT to the Jersey Shore along the “major” secondary highways (route 1 and route 9 in New Jersey). You won’t have to worry in the near future because once you step outside your house you’ll have connectivity.

    The future for me is a smart device with a 16 hour battery, placed on a recharging station at night, that accesses the internet cloud during the day where all my data and entertainment mediums are stored seamlessly. And it will cost less than $400 and provide those services for $2 a day.

    Don Smith

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