E-Book Sales Promise Good Returns In 2010

By Kenneth Anderson

E-book readers have been around for a long time now. The first one, which is generally agreed to have been the Franklin eBookman, was released in 1999, more than ten years ago. Other readers were released, notably the original Amazon Kindle in 2007 which actually lagged behind the Sony PRS reader which had launched in 2006.

2009 was however, the year that e-book readers seemed to really catch the public imagination. A great deal of the credit for this must go to Amazon. The Kindle 2.0 launch in February, rapidly followed by the launch of the large format Kindle DX in June created a real buzz around e-book readers and established them as the "must have" gadget of the year. Very rapidly, the Kindle became Amazon's best selling product. Over the 2009 festive period it became Amazon's "most gifted" product ever. On Christmas day, Amazon sold more Kindle books than they did hardbacks and paperbacks combined. Both Barnes and Noble and Sony had launched new readers in advance of the 2009 Xmas rush - but concerns over delivery combined with the fact that the Kindle was already so well recognised meant that Amazon's dominance continued.

At the moment there is no shortage of readers to choose from. The list of companies who are developing their own e-book readers is both long impressive. For the first time ever, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas in January 2010, had a separate section dedicated to e-book readers. All the signs are there that 2010 is going to be an even more successful year for e-book readers and we can probably expect to see sales continuing to grow rapidly.

It is, to all intents and purposes, an entirely new market segment which, until very recently, simply didn't exist. Aside from manufacturers of the e-book reader devices themselves, there are implications for book publishers, academic establishments, educational authorities, third party suppliers and, of course, the book reading public.

The sudden emergence of this market segment has been good news for companies such as M-Edge who manufacture a wide range of Kindle accessories including covers, reading lights, chargers and so on. There are plenty of other accessory suppliers who are also benefiting. At the moment, there is a strong focus on accessories for the Kindle, but as the market expands and other readers gain in popularity these will also offer good opportunities to the independents.

Still in its infancy, the e-book reader market is developing and expanding at an extremely rapid pace. Amazon has been hugely influential in the market's development and growth up to now. 2010 will see their current dominance challenged. Sony's second position - with a very healthy 35% market share - will also come under fire. There are plenty of opportunities for innovative companies to profit from the e-book reader gold rush in 2010. - 33374

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