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Prognosticating e-books in the new year

December 1, 2009 |  1:13 pm

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