E-books report: Will prices come down? And what about Barnes & Noble’s Nook?

It’s been quite a week in e-books news. A judge threw the book at Apple in a ruling that some say could have broad implications. And Barnes & Noble dumped its CEO as the nation’s largest chain bookstore attempts to keep up in the age of e-books and Amazon and yes, Apple’s iBookstore. What does all this mean for book lovers and other consumers?

Reports say e-book prices probably won’t be coming down any more than they already have since the five other defendants in the price-fixing case — major book publishers — settled with the U.S. government. The Wall Street Journal points out that four of the five publishers (Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and Macmillan) had already agreed to allow two years of discounts. Also since the settlements, Amazon — the online e-books leader Apple and the publishers had teamed up to fight against — has been discounting e-books, along with Apple and Barnes & Noble and Google.

However, PaidContent notes the possibility that the ruling against Apple will embolden Amazon to slash prices further. If Amazon does this, other e-book sellers could follow.

Meanwhile, as the e-book world turns, MarketWatch’s Quentin Fottrell asks what would happen to the e-books of users of the Nook, if struggling Barnes & Noble eventually shuts down its e-reader. Will people’s e-book collections go poof in the cloud? It’s in line with an increasingly common question as we buy more and more stuff that sits in the cloud. And it’s no stretch of the imagination that the bigger players could crowd out those that are struggling; it could come down to Amazon, Apple and Google.

But back to the ownership issue. Some have questioned whether we truly own the digital things we buy, such as books, music, games and more — especially the content that’s protected by DRM (digital rights management). Ownership questions have arisen from limits imposed (then quickly canceled) by Microsoft on Xbox games and Electronic Arts on its SimCity game; whether people should have the right to lend friends the e-books they’ve bought; whether Amazon should be able to delete Kindle titles people have already bought, as it did four years ago.


Photo: A 2011 e-reader lineup of the Kobo eReader Touch, Amazon Kindle, Aluratek Libre Air and the Barnes & Noble Nook. (Associated Press archives)


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  • sd

    Interesting questions… I suspect the issue of ownership will become a much hotter topic once some major content provider, like Barnes and Noble, fails, taking customers’ content with them. After having paid the equivalent of a physical item (CD, book) for the electronic version, I would be quite unhappy to lose it all because the people who sold it to me went away. I would still have the CD or the book. So what did the e-version buy me?