Another ebook reader set to fail

Teleread | Astak E Ink readers: Five- and six-inchers due in July; 9.7 inch flexi screen and Walmart and Costco e-stores in ‘08?

Models with five- and six-inch screens are tentatively scheduled to be offered for sale at the Astak Web site around July 28. That’s next month, yes, not this one as Astak originally wanted, but it is still an acceptable delay, given all the technical and business variables. Astak hoped to sell the five incher for less than $200 but now plans to start out at $229-$249 in order to allow pricing flexibility for the big chains, which Bob hopes will start selling Astak products around October.

The word on this ebook reader just a month ago was that there were three sizes, with the smallest starting at about $150. That was awesome. The $300+ ebook readers out there now are just too expensive to change the market. Sony and Amazon, as well as some lesser known players, already have expensive e-paper devices. To beat them, you have to either change the experience of reading a book, or blow the doors off them on price. This latest news suggests that Astak is doing neither. I see wifi and bluetooth and touchscreen and I cringe. I can get a cell phone with all these things. None of these are going to change the market for reading books. Having Walmart and Costco on board is good for mass adoption, but convincing shoppers to pay $250 to be allowed to read a small subset (for now) of all available books that aren’t even cheaper than their much-more-expensive-to-produce paper brethren is something that even the gifted marketers at Apple would have a hard time accomplishing. So it looks like I’m back to waiting for something that may not come for a while. I thought I could hold out until the end of July, but I thought I was getting change back from $200. As priced (Assuming the linked info is accurate), this one is a pass just like Amazon’s Kindle.

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