Foxit eSlick eBook Reader available in South Africa

10 Feb

I have to say that I was pretty excited when I saw this news today. What with eBook-reader news being dominated by looks at the Kindle and the Nook (I would go with the Nook), I was hoping for an affordable eBook reader to enter the South African market so that we, too, could finally enter the digital age…

I mean, books here are expensive, and the 60000-odd regular book-buyers and readers can afford two, or at the most 4, books a month. At an average paperback price of R130, it takes a major bite out of the wallet and is one of the reasons that such a tiny percentage of our population can afford to read. To get more people reading, you need to a) be able to supply want they want to read (which in the main, isn’t a problem) and b) try to keep it affordable. Buying books online is usually cheaper than going into a shop (as almost everything is cheaper online – I mean, there’s no shelving, no walls, no lights to drive up costs to cover overheads, at least nowhere near the costs that online retailers have to take into account, as far as I know), but here I’ve broken it down for you, so you can get an idea for yourself:

Average Salary: between R2500 and R4000 a month. That’s all I really need to put there. See? If that’s the average of what people are earning, it’s a miracle people read at all (though it does explain why second-hand booksellers do so well); how is the average person going to afford a Kindle or a Nook? There’s no chance of that, at least not without swiping a credit card or selling your Playstation 3. You see, the Foxit costs R2996

It’s too damn expensive. Well, for me, at least. Three Grand is fully more than half of what I paid every month (after deductions), so there’s no way in hell I’ll be buying this, not even if I could afford to. Why not even if I could afford it? The fact that we can’t buy eBooks in our own currency from our own online retailers. (not on Kalahari nor Exclusive Books nor Loot). So let’s say you buy yourself a Foxit and you’re ready to start reading – oops, sorry, you can’t by anything from a SA online retailer. Okay, sure, it might not be such an issue at first glance, but come on, doesn’t it seem as if this is just a run-to-catch-up-to-make-money thing? We’re already paying a lot, as a country, to read – now you want me to take half of my salary to buy something that I can only read on, when I can buy a paperback off a shelf (nothing virtual about it) for R130?

Let me add something else: I’ve got a really old Blackberry (polyphonic ringtones-old) and a MP4-Player; the Blackberry cost me R300 second-hand, and the MP4-Player cost me R350; I can read eBooks on both.

Sure, Mobipocket (on the Blackberry) gives me a lot of problems, but it works, and the MP4-Player can display text-documents (not Word or PDF).

My MP4-Player can also tune into radio stations, I can load it with music, I can watch videos on it, do voice-recording, and read eBooks that I converted to text. For R350. It doesn’t have a great screen; it doesn’t look spiffy. But I can read ebooks on it, the same as with my Blackberry (the reading part).

So when you buy an eBook reader, you’re buying the way it looks, the namebrand, etc. And you’re spending so much money on something to READ ON? Nope, sorry, not me. I’d love an eBook reader, but hell, not at such a price. Charge me R300, R400 or even R500, but not Three Grand.

A part of me knew this would be the case, but I was hoping for a miracle anyway. The reader will be retailing for R2996 – yes, you heard that correctly. Three Grand for a device on which to read. I’m sure there are thousands of South Africans who will buy the Foxit, but I’m not going to be one of them. And I really hope you all enjoy the reader (I’m still jealous, believe me – reading on a Blackberry gets old) and read plenty of books on it, but right now, this thing is geared for the rich, not the average joe.

If you are interested, head on over and read the news – you’ll get enough info to make an informed decision. 🙂

Cheers for now, and check out this poll while you’re here. 🙂


P.S. This is just damn cheeky – visit the eBook site for the Foxit and you’ll see Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith: Skyborn by John Jackson Miller – buy it for a dollar, and then head on over to the Star Wars website where you can also get it… by downloading it for FREE.


Posted by on February 10, 2010 in Announcements


5 responses to “Foxit eSlick eBook Reader available in South Africa

  1. Mike Southern

    February 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    You know, Dave, you can download free ebook readers like Mobipocket or Stanza for desktops and laptops. While it’s not as convenient as an ereader, using your laptop is a whole lot cheaper… and still reasonably portable. Plus you can make the type really big!

    But with all the talk going on about raising ebook prices, it may end up not being much cheaper than buying the hardcopy anyway.

  2. Dave-Brendon de Burgh

    February 10, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Yep, I do that, too (when Mobipocket give’s me problems with uploading to the phone). 🙂 I’m just getting irritated with the fact that everybody is making eBook readers that South Africans can’t afford. The publishing industry really has become a let’s-see-how-much-money-we-can-make industry instead of a let’s-get-more-people-reading industry. 😦

  3. Sheila

    February 11, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Aaah, if only the book industry were actually about the true enjoyment of reading and not merely the profits generated from sales…. but that’s exactly what it’s all about. Sadly, a book is just another commodity to be sold at ever increasing prices and, if a downloadable book is even a fraction cheaper than the hardcopy then I suppose it has justified itself in the marketplace even if the reader makes it completely unaffordable to 90+ % of the local population. I think the real question we should be asking ourselves is why books are so over-priced in SA. Other countries get tax rebates to encourage reading and book sales. But not in SA where you’d think that the ability to read and write would be encouraged in the larger part of the population. Also, why are so many libraries forced to buy from retailers? Oh wait…libraries allow people to read for free and what’s the fun in that? Simply put, there’s very little left in the book industry that has to do with reading…it’s all about the money and the ebook reader is just another manifestation of the greed that runs our world.

    Perhaps we should start a drive – and see how many books we can get donated to local libraries. I’m willing to give it a try – anyone else willing?

  4. Dave-Brendon de Burgh

    February 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    I agree, a reader is nice to have but it’s ultimately just another way that the industry makes money. Granted, Macmillan must have lost quite a bit of money when Amazon dropped their titles, but I think authors were more focused on a sudden drop in Sales Rank or units, not how much money was being lost. After all, if your book sells, you’ll probably want to and will be asked to write another one.

  5. Mike Southern

    February 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    This is sort of relevant to the situation — I found this article at Yahoo this morning:

    It may be only a matter of time until authors begin looking at ideas like this. One of the beauties of ebooks is that you don’t need a publisher to get them out to the reading public.


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