I can barely believe it myself. A debate has been raging over the past couple of days over that blog post (come on, you know the one) and I have barely murmured. I must finally be at peace with the world (er, yeah right). Be assured I am not now about to ‘launch into one’ over this, others have written far more eloquent responses to that piece. Nope, not me. That said, however, there is one part of that post that I think does need picking up on as it seems to be a growing belief.
In that post, Godin states:
Five years from now, readers will be as expensive as Gillette razors, and ebooks will cost less than the blades.
Now, I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that they won’t. Yep, this is going to be one of those posts where I look back and exclaim expletives whilst banging my head repeatedly on my desk. But hey, what the hell, you only live once right?
When reading around before writing this post, I was relieved to come across another blogger saying much the same thing. Relieved I wasn’t being totally way out, I decided to blog away. So, why do I think that ereaders will never be as cheap as razors? Well, it’s a mixture of thinking it won’t happen and hoping it won’t happen. I think it won’t happen because, essentially, it only really makes sense as a business model if you lock people into a format (a la Kindle). By locking people into a format you can make your money. By producing a cheap ereader and allowing people to shop around you will, in my personal opinion, go bust very quickly. Ultimately, the producer will need to find ways to make money to make up for selling an ereader at below cost price. I may be wrong, I’ve never been involved in business on that level, but that’s the way I think it would have to pan out for ereaders to be sold so cheaply.
So why do I hope it won’t happen? Well, it sounds like a nice idea and certainly the egalitarian in me would love everyone to be able to access the technology. My problem? If they are sold cheaply they are more likely than not to be produced cheaply. From an environmental perspective that would be a disaster. Dropped your ereader? Stopped working? Never mind, just chuck that one away and buy a new one. What’s the betting that people will take less care of their ereader if they know they can replace it cheaply without losing any of the books that are on it? And all those debates about which is greener? Well, they go out the window if you keep buying a new ereader every twelve months.
So my view? Ereaders as cheap as razors is neither likely or desirable. Ok, you may shoot me now.