E-Book Readers Heating Up This Holiday

Contrary to my prescient cynicism, the NYT is running a piece on the rise of e-readers as the must-have holiday gift, quoting some dude who things this is the “tipping point.”

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.

What is really happening is that the phalanx of hard-core readers – folks who read multiple books a week – has already purchased their devices and now it’s time for the general reader to take a look at these sub-$150 devices. Unless, however, they stick with the Big Two, Kindle or Nook, they’re going to go nuts. The low-end devices are arguably garbage and they’re not going to get much better, even with the introduction of color screens and better LCDs. The draw here is the store. Nothing else matters.

That said, the NYT’s trend piece is correct in assuming that the folks who usually ask for the latest Stephen King thriller under the tree will probably ask for an e-reader instead. Like any technology, it takes a while to build a head of steam but once the average reader gets his or her head around the e-book market, things will change drastically and quickly.