Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are The Coming Holidays The Season Of The E-Reader?

Here are two articles that speculate so.

The first is Great Holiday Expectations For E-Readers. An excerpt:

Publishers and booksellers are expecting that instead of giving your mother a new Nicholas Sparks novel or your father a David Baldacci thriller in the hardcovers that traditionally fly off the shelves and into wrapping paper at this time of year, you might elect to convert them to e-reading.

“This is the tipping-point season for e-readers, there’s no question,” said Peter Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex Group, a book market research company. “A lot more books are going to be sold in e-book format. It also means that a lot fewer people are going to be shopping in bookstores.”

Only a small slice of the book-buying public has bought an e-reader. About nine million devices are in circulation in the United States, according to Forrester Research.

That could jump in the coming weeks as consumers begin their holiday shopping, analysts predict. According to Forrester, at least 10.3 million e-readers could be in circulation by the end of the year.

And many of them will be bought for other people. Research from Simba Information, which provides data and advice to publishers, has shown that 1 in 5 of those who own a Kindle, Amazon’s dedicated e-reader, received it as a gift.

In a recent Consumer Reports poll, 10 percent of the adults surveyed said they planned to give an e-reader as a gift this year, up from 4 percent in 2009.

That has corresponded with an increase in e-book sales. Two years ago, publishers said that sales of e-books constituted 1 percent of total book sales, but the figure is now closer to 9 or 10 percent.

“There’s no question that this is the year of the gadget, and this year’s gadget is the e-reader,” said Geoffrey Jennings, the owner of Rainy Day Books, an independent bookstore in Fairway, Kan.

But Mr. Jennings said that sales of print books at his store were even stronger than last year, and that he believed the e-reading craze could be limited.

“A lot of people are going to get these things and they’re going to go, ‘This isn’t like reading a book,’” he said. “Then again, you’ll have people who get them and then say, this is a fun gadget. But people get sick of gadgets after a while.”

Publishers insisted that they were not worried about the spread of e-readers. “We’ll see a lot of reading devices under the tree, which means we’ll sell a lot of e-books,” said Tim McCall, the director of online sales for Penguin Group USA.

Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said she expected e-book sales to shoot up on Christmas Day, when people open up their e-readers and immediately start buying books.

“The digital will be an added plus to what looks like we’re starting to pull out of — a very lackluster market,” Ms. Reidy said. “That will make for a very happy year after two Christmases that have not been very happy.”

The second is The Ebooks Are Coming! The Ebooks Are Coming! An excerpt:

Throughout the country, what looks like a coordinated army of retailers have set up big retail displays—always near the front door of their stores—hawking Kindles, Nooks, Sony Readers, Kobos, iPads, and all the other hopefuls in the ereader race. Prepare to be corralled into a test drive when you hit Wal Mart, Target, Best Buy and every other shopping destination this holiday season.

Until just recently, and despite a lot of excitement, ebooks made up only a tiny proportion of all books sold. But now the indication is that’s changing, and changing fast.

Over on Cnet.com there are reviews of 76 different ereader models from 17 manufacturers.

Remember this recent entry about CD-R King's PhP3,990.00 e-reader? I haven't seen any yet at any of their stores, but I wonder if they'll have this ready and available by December, just in time for holiday shopping.

I confess to have gone digital: I went and bought a Kindle just some weeks ago. It's still abroad, ordered by a relative, but it should be with me a bit before Christmas. I'm quite excited to have it in my hands. It's exciting to think that I can carry hundreds, even thousands, of books in one gadget, readily available to me at any time.

I'm not the only old-fogey who has purchased an e-reader. I know of quite a number in my generation who have bought or have expressed interest in buying Kindles, iPads, Nooks, and other e-readers. Those who have bought one have said that they are now reading more thanks to their new gadgets. Whether this is just temporary--the thrill of a new toy--or the sign of a permanent change in how we read, remains to be seen, but by all indications it looks like the latter. At the very least, I have a feeling we're going to see the existence of two media for reading now: the book, and the ebook.

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