In the midst of the Amazon's new Kindle device debate there's one key item that doesn't seem to get much coverage: the price of the ebooks. Yes, $400 is way too much for a monochrome dedicated reader, no doubt. It's the early adopter model though and you can bet Amazon knows that mass appeal will require a much lower price along with many more features. Let's assume they get they address all that in version 2.0 or 3.0 down the road. How do you feel about paying $9.99 for an ebook?
Given that most of the bestsellers currently available for the Kindle retail for more than $20 in print, I'd say $9.99 is an excellent price point. It's like the 99-cent per song model that Apple established several years ago: Easy to remember and, more importantly, it feels like a bargain when compared to the print price.
Of course all books aren't $9.99 on the Kindle list. I had to look long and hard before I finally found a book over $9.99. In fact, I gave up after page 10 of the search results. They're out there though. For example, the Computers & Internet list has plenty of them: 7 of the top 10 are more than $20 and 2 of those are over $30. Then again, the first real computer book on this list is only #1,377 overall so it's not like early adopters are buying the Kindle for computer book reading.
On the other end of the spectrum, how about $3.50 for Dale Carnegie's classic How to Win Friends and Influence People? $3.50?! The paperback edition lists for $14 and Amazon sells it for $11.20, so how could you resist buying the ebook for $3.50? Most people will figure it's a book they should read and now they can get it for less than a cup of overpriced coffee. Long tail titles like this one will benefit greatly from the Kindle, assuming they maintain the sub-$5 price point.
Speaking of interesting models, are you familiar with the Amazon Upgrade program? For the tiny sum of $2-$3, Upgrade gives you immediate access to the online version of the print book you purchased earlier from Amazon. It's a nifty way to overcome Amazon's lack of instant gratification. Upgrade is an extension of the Search Inside feature so it's not like you get an ebook version for your computer; you need a live Internet connection to use this service. Now that the Kindle is a real product, how long will it be before Amazon integrates it with the Upgrade service? Think of all those books you've bought from Amazon over the years. Would you pay a sub-$5 per title fee to get Kindle versions for some of them? I would.