The e-book revolution took another bold step forward yesterday with the launch of a discounted e-reader device – selling for just £52 – on the Asda Direct website. At £52 the View Quest Mediabox 5in Media Tablet is less than half the price of Amazon’s lowest cost Kindle, and signals that big retailers think mid-market consumers are ready for the technology. The news also suggests Asda could be planning to sell e-books from its website in the near future.
For the moment though, Asda is hailing the device as a ‘mobile library’, claiming it will help “support bookworms amid mounting public concerns about potential library closures”. The supermarket chain is encouraging readers to download out-of-copyright e-books for free from the Project Gutenberg website.
This will enable e-book owners to access an enormous range of literary content to read at their leisure, says Asda. The website Project Gutenberg currently has more than 33,000 free e-books available for download, featuring works by authors that include Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, HG Wells, Mark Twain, Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. More recent paid-for titles could also be loaded onto the Asda ebook reader which recognizes most content formats. The device also offers music and video playback.
Adam May, tablet buyer at Asda, said: “There’s no doubt that the eBook is here to stay and we’re doing our bit to put affordable literature in the hands of bookworms. We’re also hoping that we can inspire a new generation of readers. At £52, which works out at £1 per week for a year, our reader is outstanding value and will give many years of pleasure to every generation of electronic bookworms.”