The Nook, from Barnes and Noble

Earlier on this year I predicted that 2009 would be the Year of the eBook. Indeed, it seems the tipping point is within shouting distance. We have seen a flurry of activity this year, with many new models of eReader hitting the market. Amazon, too, have made their groundbreaking Kindle available overseas for the first time (with a few too many teething problems for many, though these issues are likely to be ironed out soon).

We’ve seen new hardware from the likes of Elonex, InterRead (the funky-looking Cool-Er eReader), Sony and Barnes & Noble (the Nook), as well as non-dedicated tablet-style devices from a whole host of manufacturers. Prices are coming down, too, as demand increases.

When Stanza – a software-based eReader – launched on the iPhone and iPod Touch, it opened up a whole new level of availability for eBooks, and many other mobile phones have the ability to display eBooks. eBooks are now within reach of tens of millions of customers, as eReaders come down in price, and as existing owners start exploring the eReading capabilities of their smartphones.

In fact, eBooks have become so popular over recent months that the number of eBook applications (and other book-related apps) launching on the iPhone (and equivalents) has overtaken the number of games on the same platforms*. Of course, the fact that the books are launching on these platforms doesn’t mean that the sales are higher than sales of games, but the fact that so many new books are becoming available in this format to so many potential new purchasers bodes extremely well for the format itself. Time will tell how popular these new apps are – after all, if they don’t sell, it’s unlikely the publishers will continue to launch the apps.

Amazon, too, have stated that for those titles they stock as both Kindle and paper-based versions, the Kindle version accounts for 48% of the titles’ sales. That’s a significant figure!

We won’t be ditching paper for quite some time, yet (if ever), but it’s interesting to watch how quickly we’re catching up with the future…


*source: Flurry Smartphone Industry Pulse, October 2009

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