Ereaders Gain New Momentum

11/16/2011

It’s not as if ereaders have suddenly burst onto the connected-device scene, but recent news certainly has some in the market taking even further notice of just how much momentum these devices seem to have going forward. What started as a single-purpose, dedicated device category is beginning to spawn a new breed of ereader that includes multi-purpose functionality.

With this week’s launch of the Kindle Fire, and the news that Barnes & Noble will launch its NOOK Tablet, what you have is a definite convergence of markets, blending tablet and ereader capabilities into one dedicated device. Aside from price, what will make these devices stand out from pure tablet competitors will be the services.

For example, Amazon’s recent launch of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. This service allows Kindle owners to borrow books for free if they have an Amazon Prime membership. As for Barnes & Noble, the appeal, it hopes, will be the fact its device is backed by an online bookstore  that boasts more than 2.5 million titles, among other factors. Things like speed and cloud storage have the bookseller believing it has the best ereader/tablet hybrid on the market.
 
Speaking to the overall trend of ereaders, there is no doubt these devices are here to stay. Perhaps nothing is more telling than the fact the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has now added digital book sales to its weekly Nielsen BookScan best-selling list. As of the end of last month, ebook sales now appear weekly as part of WSJ Weekend, the paper’s weekend edition, in print and on WSJ.com.
 
To compile the data, Nielsen is having all major ebook retailers contribute information for four new charts that include self-published digital releases, children’s books, and perennials. The combined print and ebook charts for fiction and nonfiction, and ebook-only charts for fiction and nonfiction will also include books priced at $0.99 and above.
According to Jonathan Stolper, vice president and general manager of Nielsen BookScan, the expanded list reflects what consumers are truly buying and reading and “will most definitely advance the industry’s understanding of ebook best sellers.”


And while it will be interesting to see what genres fair better as digital books, what we’d really like to see is actual sales data for ebooks. Will we see sales figures plummet thanks to Kindle’s new lending service, or will it prove to be nothing more than a digital library card? The publishing industry will just have to wait and see.





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