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B&N's Nook goes down to $149, Amazon cuts Kindle price too

June 21, 2010 |  2:28 pm

Today, Barnes & Noble announced that it was dropping the price of its 3G Nook to $199, and introducing a new budget-friendly WiFi-only Nook for $149. On Sunday, the Nook was retailing for $259, which makes the new prices look like quite a bargain.

But not for long.

Soon, Amazon.com had an announcement of its own: The price of its least-expensive Kindle was being dropped by $70, to $189 from $259. Does that make Kindle the bargain of the day?

Maybe. Today Borders launched its e-reader, the Kobo. The Kobo doesn't have the features of the Kindle or the Nook -- it's not wireless -- but it is cheap, just $149.99. "Borders' Kobo undercuts Kindle, Nook on price," the Christian Science Monitor proclaimed on May 7. Now, it's lost its price advantage.

But are Barnes & Noble and Amazon really chasing after Borders, which is, after all, playing catch-up in the e-reader race? Probably not. Instead, they may be motivated by Apple. Today, when millions of iPhones get their new software updates, they'll be able to access the iBookstore. And there's the little matter of the massively pre-sold iPhone 4, set to arrive in stores Thursday.

It is possible that the price-cutting in e-readers will reach Apple's iPad, but it's not likely. However, it does make the price spread between the iPad and e-readers somewhat more significant -- the lowest-end iPad is now $350 more than the Nook and the Kobo. Despite all its gorgeous multimedia features, the iPad now looks like the luxury item of e-readers.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: Nook, left, credit Barnes & Noble. Right, Kindle and iPad; credit, Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.

Buy an Amazon Kindle for the new low price of $189

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