Santa will be filling his sleigh with a lot of e-book readers this holiday season. In a report released Tuesday, technology researcher Forrester estimates 900,000 e-readers will sell in the U.S. in November and December. That brings the year’s total to 3 million devices, up considerably from the firm’s estimate earlier this year of 2 million. Amazon’s much-hyped Kindle readers are hardly the only reason for Forrester’s rosier outlook. Sony’s line of readers will be available in more than 9,000 retail stores this holiday season, and its wider range of prices (from $199 to $399) should appeal to more buyers. Another big selling point in Sony’s favor: access to Google’s library of over 1 million digitized, public domain books. “Forrester’s data and anecdotal evidence from vendors suggests that having more content is an important marketing feature of eReader devices, even if consumers end up buying bestsellers and ignoring the long tail of free and for-sale content,” analyst Sarah Rotman Epps writes in the report.
Amazon and Sony readers need a great holiday season because the New Year will bring new competition in the category. A diverse field of e-reader entrants includes ASUS, iRex, and Plastic Logic. And don’t forget the 800 lb. gorilla in the room: the rumored tablet computer from Apple. “If Apple decides to support ePub and PDF files in its iTunes store, it will become a major player in the eBook market overnight,” Epps writes.