As soon as Barnes and Nobles was ready to drop the price of its Nook e-reader from $259 to $199 yesterday, Amazon took less than a day to follow suit with a price cut that puts the Kindle selling for slightly less at $189. It was almost like Amazon was waiting for B&N to make the move so they could go along.

In addition, a new Wi-Fi only Nook model was announced set to sell for $149. Meanwhile, Amazon was ready with a press release on hand, taking a blow at its competition saying they will keep offering free 3G connectivity regardless of the price drop. Now, I've always been under the impression that e-readers have a limited market, but that may have been in part because the price of admission was considerably high at a few hundred dollars for the device alone. As these reach out closer to the ever sweet $100 price point, there could be an even brighter future ahead for standalone e-readers, especially considering the connectivity convenience and anytime material availability.

Then again, the sudden price drop begs the question, could the three-month old iPad and the advent of more tablets have anything to do with this? At the previous price point of $259 for a Nook or Kindle, you could have just as well spent a couple hundred more for a device that does much more while still serving the purpose of an e-reader quite well, in fact many argue that the iPad is better suited for reading. On the other hand, the newly established $300-plus price stretch can guarantee that standalone reading devices will keep serving a different segment of the market for the time to come.