$100-$200 Android laptops-tablets said to be on the way: The e-book angle

imageImagine paying just $100-$200 for an Android laptop-tablet that could run apps like a future version of the Stanza e-reader.

That could be on the horizon if the current rumors are on the mark. See Techmeme roundup with links to Computerworld, Wired’s Gadget Lab, PC World, Slashdot and elsewhere. The vendor is Skytone, and the relevant page is here. Vaporware or the real thing?

While the spec are weak—limited memory and storage and and a far-from-optimal screen—I’m reminded of Boswell’s quote about a dog walking on hind legs. It’s remarkable the creature walks, period.

If $100-$200 is the possible retail price, imagine what it could be for mass purchases, including those for school and library use. Domestic OLPC-style possibilities? And the right hardware to use with a well-stocked national digital library systems in the TeleRead vein?

The real issue: Will big publishers be ready for the tech?

imageBut you know what worries me more than whether the tech will be reality—which will happen sooner or later?  It’s whether big publishers will understand the potential of the global market here. Will they saddle e-bookdom will stupid DNAML-style proprietary formats, onerous DRM, and even more territorial restrictions?  Or will Random House, S&S and the others instead prepare to reach billions of new potential buyers, with reasonably priced books—which people can conveniently own for real? Will shoppers really pay for a $25 e-book to run on a $100 machine? Oh, the folly!

Then again, maybe consumers shouldn’t worry excessively. If the current big publishers don’t shape up, plenty of smallfry will be around to become the next giants and take their places. The only negatives, beyond the loss of jobs, will be more difficult access to masterpieces now tethered to big publishers via copyright. But perhaps the big boys will sell off the backlists to raise cash.

Related: Jonathan Karp’s Publishers Weekly piece already mentions by Paul Biba and Michael Pastore—on the most common mistakes of big publishers, such as excessive staffing and insufficient accountability for individual titles. The piece suggests “12 steps to better books.” In a PW comment, Marion Gropen points out that small publishers are already doing what Karp suggests.

About David Rothman (6820 Articles)
David Rothman is the founder and publisher of the TeleRead e-book site and cofounder of He is also author of The Solomon Scandals novel and six tech-related books on topics ranging from the Internet to laptops. Passionate on digital divide issues, he is now pushing for the creation of a national digital library endowment.

5 Comments on $100-$200 Android laptops-tablets said to be on the way: The e-book angle

  1. Well, there’s a bright side. Big publishers burn through inpetitutde, forced into firesale of content as desperately try to stay afloat.

    Good publishers get it, provide it to us sensibly.

    Sounds good to me! :)

    Throw another oligopoly on the barbie for me.

  2. Well, linux laptops have been pretty much a failure except for the technorati. The same thing with Android, I suspect. The average person isn’t going to buy an Android laptop. They’ll buy Windows or Mac. This will be a tiny little niche which publishers would do well to ignore. They need to spend their time on perfecting their access to the mass market, not to the technically sophisticated minority.

  3. Depends on the apps, Paul. If Stanza can come through, this thing could be a reasonably decent e-reader. And if everything is well enough packaged, it won’t be just for geeks.

    But I’m looking beyond this machine and thinking of an entire class of ’em.


  4. Remember, this device could find itself in the hands of schoolkids everywhere. Never underestimate the axiom, “Get ’em while they’re young.” Put a reader on that device, so they can use e-textbooks and e-literature without lugging hundreds of pounds of paper on their backs, and you’ve got e-book converts scurrying all over the place.

    OTOH, never underestimate the ability for companies to assume the worst of schoolkids, and slap DRM onto everything to “protect” their interests…

  5. Is the price really what it says it is??
    Because i hate deals that say it is this much but
    it ends up being more….

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