Demand for E-books on the Increase
Demand for electronic books, or e-books, has created one of the fastest growing Internet consumer market segments. Research conducted recently by the Gartner Group revealed that one in 300 books read in the USA, and one in 450 books in Europe, are read in the digital format. This is a 38% increase on last year, which in turn experienced 25% growth on 2003.
eBook units sold for the first quarter 2004 were up 46% and eBook revenues were up 28% over the same quarter in 2003. These and other figures charting the eBook industry are reported in the quarterly Open eBook Forum (OeBF) eBook Statistics Report.
"At this rate, by 2010, more people will be reading e-books than the old-fashioned paper variety," said Marco Foltran, founder of online e-book retailer eBook Impressions. "The forests will be saved!"
eBooks downloaded using Microsoft Reader, Adobe Reader or Mobipocket Reader are searchable, have handy bookmark features and can be downloaded on average in 2-3 minutes. An average novel is less than 300KB, depending on content, so the average Palm for example can store over 500 ebooks.
Driving the growth of e-books is the soaring cost of paper books -- the average e-book, at $5, is 20% the price of a paperback -- and the vast improvement in the usability of electronic reading devices. According to Foltran, 62% of e-book readers use laptop computers, 17% use personal digital assistants such as BlackBerrys and Palms, 14% use desktop computers and the remaining 7% use dedicated readers. The market is growing fastest in countries where rail and bus commuting is the prevalent means of transport for middle - and upper-income workers. "Reading devices have become a lot cheaper and more portable, and easier on the eye. So they're ideal for someone sitting on a bus for an hour."