With multiple copyright lawsuits against Google's Book Search, and high visibility of Amazon's Kindle, public interest in digital reading devices is gaining back the spotlight. According to Piper Jaffray, worldwide Kindle revenues will reach $405 million by the end of 2009, and more than double to nearly $1 billion in 2010. In the study "eCommerce State of the Union: A Bright Spot in a Difficult Environment," released April 2009, Kindle revenues were compared worldwide. In 2007, device and book revenues combined were $5 million, in 2008 they reached $117 million.
The predictions do seem very large, but the track record shows a larger market share than previously thought. The Kindle device, first introduced in late 2007, accounted for approximately 10% of total North American book units sold in Q1 2009—or about 4 million out of the 38 million books sold.
Projections for next year are supported by the fact that people really want to try e-readers out. The opinions from December 2008 to March 2009 help to clarify the sentiment. The responses as listed in eMarketer today from the Jaffray study:
I've seen one and interested in buying one: 4%, 5%
I've seen one and interested in buying one if they get cheaper: 8%, 9%
I've never seen one but want to check it out 15%, 19%
This relatively new consumer product is not a universally desired item - nearly 65 percent of those polled have no interest in digital book readers.
As for the price, this is a significant obstacle. The genre defining Kindle is $359, the large-screen Kindle DX is $489. The Sony e-Reader is at least $299.99 on the SonyStyle Web site. Consumers are already gaining additional choices in this new market. The CoolReader from UK-based Interead is only $249, with iPod-styling and multiple colors, clearly a lower-market, more accessible option.
The bright spot in the pricing scheme is individual book downloads - public domain options for free on Google Books or cheaper than list price at $9.99 at Amazon.