One of the most common debates in e-book land is that of pricing. What is the correct price for a book? What is the correct price for a reader? Or for anything, really?

It’s a flawed argument. I think that the issue is, there is no One Best Price. There is only what you are offering relative to what other people are offering. For example, the base price for an entry-level, cheapest-model iPad Mini in Canada is $329. Next to that, the $50 Fire Tablet is an absolute revelation. It’s not that $329 is an inherently bad price and $50 is a good one. I think the iPad is actually an excellent device. But I don’t think it is $279 better than the Fire Tablet. It’s a relative comparison.

The latest new device promo to come my way is GoodEReader editor Michael Kozlowski’s Indiegogo campaign for a large-screen e-book reader. How much would you pay for such a thing? It’s open Android (but e-ink, so no colour). It comes with a stylus. And it can be yours for a pre-order of…$699USD plus shipping. That’s over $900 CAD. I can practically get an iPad Pro for that. I could get two iPad Airs. I could get a Surface Pro running full Windows.

It’s not that a large-screen e-ink tablet is necessarily a bad idea, or that $699 is inherently a bad price. Indeed, many of the other options available on the large-screen market would cost about the same (Best Buy Canada’s lowest-priced Surface Tablet is $899.95 for instance). But when you compare these options together, it is unconscionable to pay that price for greyscale e-ink and the Google store when for about the same price, I could get full colour, the Apple or Windows store, and do anything I want. Relative to the other options available, this greyscale e-ink tablet is simply not a good value for the money.

At the time I wrote this, the campaign had only one backer, who donated $5 just to participate. I think this campaign will struggle to meet its goal. There is no way they can achieve popular adoption at this price point, given what else is available on the market.

[The campaign now has 11 backers and $3,610 in funding, with two months yet to run, so it may well do better than Joanna expects. I will probably put my own thoughts in a separate post a little later. —CM]


  1. Thanks for the coverage. I think what is important to note is battery life and being able to do more. The iPad Pro, the $50 Kindle the Surface, we reviewed and played with all of these devices, the short coming is battery. You would be lucky to get a full day of 8-12 hours use and there being anything left. On the other hand, the 13.3 inch e-reader is not only good for consumers, reading e-books and making notes, installing their own apps etc.

    I think the big segment is business users and students. People that need to visit job sites, in the sun and not have the screen obfuscated by direct light. A device that lasts over a month of constant usage, without having to recharge it every day.

  2. It’s not that $699 is too much for such a device, but that $699 is too much to give to someone who is not guaranteeing that you’ll ever get the device, and who has a similar failed campaign in their immediate past, where the money has not yet been refunded.

  3. $699 for a non-lit e-reader might have been acceptable 5 years ago. In fact, I paid nearly $400 for a 9.7 non-touch Kindle DX back then.

    Now, though? Nope. If it doesn’t have a frontlight, I’m not interested.

    • The thing is, it’s so big that a frontlight simply wouldn’t illuminate the whole thing. You’d end up with a ring of light around the edges and a dim center. Better to use a clip-on booklight if you want something like that.

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