E-books Grow in Popularity this Holiday Season
For a while now, consumers have ignored the electronic book because of its difficulty and the limited options to read. But thanks to Amazon.com’s wireless Kindle gadget, the e-book has started to take hold.
The Kindle was launched last year. It is so popular that it is out of stock until February.
The shortage is creating an opportunity for Sony, which stepped up the publicity for its Reader device. The rivalry may indicate a change in the idea of reading.
“The perception is that e-books have been around for 10 years and haven’t done anything,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. “But it’s happening now. This is really starting to take off.”
Sony’s newest model, the Reader 700, has a reading light and a touch screen that lets users annotate as they read. Haber stated that Sony’s sales tripled this holiday season alone.
On the other hand, Peter Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex Group, believes that Amazon has sold as many as 260,000 units. Others say they have sold a million. Authors who did not like the idea of the e-book are coming around.
“E-books will become the go-to-first format for an ever-expanding group of readers who are newly discovering how much they enjoy reading books on a screen,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Random House.
No one can predict how consumer habits will change. Technology may only appeal to exact kinds of people, like heavy readers.
The most disregarded increase to e-books was from Apple’s iPhone.
Many programs were created for the gadget, and Stanza from LexCycle and the eReader from Fictionwise, have been downloaded 600,000 times. Scroll Motion stated that it would sell e-books for the iPhone from publishers Simon & Schuster, Random House and Penguin.
These companies say they are adding this software for other smartphones, like the BlackBerry.
Publishers insist that the iPhone applications are generating a lot of digital book sales like the Sony Reader, not as many as the Kindle.
Meanwhile, Amazon and Sony are anticipated to release newer kinds of their readers in 2009. Haber said potential Readers would be wireless, which makes the Kindle so fascinating.
The new devices are intriguing more and more book lovers. MaryAnn van Hengel, 51, once denounced e-readers at her book club. But she quickly fell in love with the Kindle after her husband presented her with one this fall.
Ms. Van Hengel now owns a few books on the Kindle. She said it has caused her to purchase more books than normal.
“I may be shy bringing the Kindle to the book club because so many of the women were so against the technology, and I said I was too,” Ms. Van Hengel said. “And here I am in love with it.”