The rapid assault of eBook announcements in the past couple weeks - plus the looming launch of more products in coming months - raises countless questions about the business prospects for this new category.
Among the quandaries is the role of traditional consumer electronics dealers in this new product mix. The complex relationships between eBook manufacturers and publishers and book sellers is further complicated by wireless communications providers, who are involved in some - but not all - of the eBook deals. Throw in the always-lurking copyright factors, and this is shaping up as an exciting, confusing new product opportunity.Some of these questions may be sorted out by the time of the January Consumer Electronics Show, which is devoting a pavilion to the new category - allowing side-by-side comparisons of many of the eBook variations.
The marketplace battle is already underway. Sony lowered the prices and expanded the capacity of its eReader last week: a $199 "pocket edition" and a $299 larger touchscreen version. The devices, which currently do not have a wireless download feature, will be available in national retail outlets, including Wal-Mart and Best Buy.