There can be little doubt that eBook and eReaders are having a breakout year. Today, Forrester Research moved its original projection of 2 million US eReader sales in 2009 up 50%. Forrester now expects that 3 million eReaders will be sold in 2009 and that 30% of these will sell during the holiday season. Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps argues that sales are growing much faster than expected because of falling prices, better retail distribution, and the media buzz that currently surrounds eBooks and eReaders. For 2010, Forrester projects eReader sales of up to 10 million.

Now that the competition among eReader manufacturers is heating up, a larger number of US retailers, including Best Buy, Costco, Target and Walmart have started to devote shelf space to eReaders. According to the Association of American Publishers, eBook sales since June have gone up 149% for the year and the industry now generates $14 million in sales every month.

Reasons why Forrester is revising its forecast:

  • Prices came down
  • More content available and accessible
  • Retail distribution improved
  • Media buzz

One of the main reasons why Forrester is correcting its forecast is the fact that prices have come down (and this report was actually written before the Amazon announcement). In addition, Forrester also sees increased consumer awareness thanks to the current media buzz around eReaders. While the Kindle was mentioned 8,680 times in news stories in 2008, it has been mentioned over 15,700 times in 2009 already (including the month of September). In addition, the fact that more content is now available and that manufacturers like iRex and Sony are backing the open ePub standard is also opening up the market to buyers who previously weren't interested in Amazon's closed Kindle ecosystem.

Outlook for 2010: Even Better

For next year, Forrester expects that Barnes & Noble will become serious competition for Amazon. With the iRex Digital Reader 800 and the forthcoming Plastic Logic reader, B&N will be able to offer its customers a lineup of eReaders that can easily challenge Amazon's Kindle - though not in the international market that Amazon just entered yesterday.

Forrester also expects that Apple's mythical tablet could become a major force in the eReader market, though for the time being, the Apple tablet is obviously nothing more than a rumor.

Clearly the eReader market is growing at a rapid pace. Just yesterday, when Amazon unveiled the reduced prices for its Kindle 2 and the launch of the AT&T-powered "U.S. & International Wireless" version of the Kindle 2, Amazon's CEO and founder Jeff Bezoz pointed out in an interview with the New York Times that whenever Amazon offers both a Kindle and paper version of a book, 48% of total sales now come from the digital Kindle edition. In May, this number was 35%. While Amazon doesn't release sales numbers for the Kindle, these numbers are only possible if Amazon has sold a lot more Kindles than most analysts previously thought.