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Prognosticating e-books in the new year


It's a mad venture, looking into the future of e-books. Which is why we here at Jacket Copy are letting Sarah Rotman Epps and James McQuivey from Forrester Research carry the ball. They've blogged their 10 predictions for e-books and e-readers at paidContent.org.

Perhaps their most audacious prediction is that e-book sales will top $500 million in 2010. It's audacious because e-book sales from January through September of this year were just over $109 million, according to the Assn. of American Publishers. The researchers say that since this number omits education, libraries and other markets, the sales are actually higher. And that the sales the association does track will also continue to climb.

The two have heartening words for Nook executives at Barnes & Noble; they say the bookseller's challenger to the Kindle and Sony Reader will increase market share in 2010. This is a pretty safe prediction -- pre-orders have sold out the Nook until January, so if there will be a year of the Nook, it certainly won't be 2009.

Several predictions -- about increasing use of non e-readers to read books, and app-ification of e-readers so they can take on more diverse functions -- all point to the same interesting question. A book used to be something simple: pages between covers. But now, it can be almost any collection of words and/or pictures in sequence that's been published, electronically or otherwise. What exactly will define a book at the end of 2010? At the end of 2050?

We're not much for predicting the future here. But maybe you are.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos: left, the Kindle DX. Credit: Amazon.com. Right: the Nook. Credit Barnes & Noble

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Jacket Copy, thanks for the shoutout...one more thing to keep in mind about AAP data, which helps explain why our (Forrester's) number is so much higher than theirs: Monthly reported data to the AAP only comes from 12-15 trade publishers, which represent a big chunk but still less than half of the trade eBook market. This is why at the end of the year the AAP extrapolates to a total wholesale revenue number for eBooks using its monthly data and US Census Bureau data. So in 2008, monthly AAP data totaled $52M but their annual figure was $113M. So if 2009 monthly AAP data through September is $109M, the total wholesale trade number is at least double that...which puts our $500M+ projection for next year in context.

Probably more detail than most people care about but that's the story behind the numbers...

I really have been enjoying my kindle and the service is really great. I read several books a month, but also I still read hard cover books which I use my kindle as a dictonary or wikipidi device to look something up which I don't have to sit there and watch a laptop or computer start up. You just hit the on button on the kindle and you are there ready for the word you don't understand or wikipedia which you want more info on the topic you are reading... yes, I love the kindle it's great, but it can be used to read books and a refrence when your at home in the porch or back yard, but you wireless doesn't work... Yea, that is another issue the n+wireless which is still being worked...

Thanks again
Big Frank


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