The price of an e-reader from Aluratek dropped to under $100 over the weekend, which could escalate a price war that broke out between device makers in June.
The US$99 Libre eBook Reader Pro, available at the Newegg retail store, was previously priced at $169. Pitched to be "small enough to fit into your pocket," the device has a 5-inch black-and-white LCD screen and offers 24 hours of battery life.
In June, Barnes & Noble lowered the price for its Nook e-reader to $199, and the same day Amazon cut the price of its Kindle device to $189. The devices were earlier priced at $259 and include E-Ink screens. Today both companies also offer entry-level Wi-Fi-only models, with the Kindle priced at $139 and the Nook priced at $149.
Analysts have said e-reader shipments will continue to grow. Gartner last year said it expects 2010 to be the year "when e-book readers really become popular consumer electronic devices."
Lower prices may help grow the market, according to Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. In a report issued last year, she said that e-readers priced at $98 would likely draw the interest of more buyers than the higher-priced alternatives.
But prices are just one determinant of success for e-readers, said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at the NPD Group.
Products like the Libre have significantly lower distribution and consumer presence and so are not nearly as meaningful or competitive as the Kindle or Nook.
"I don't think at this point either Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Sony really needs to respond to these lower-profile competitors," Baker said.
Aluratek's Libre e-reader comes in different colors and is priced at $169 on the company's website. The device can open e-books in the PDF, ePub, MOBI, PRC, RTF and text electronic book formats.