Are E-Readers the Christmas Gifts that Keep on Giving?

Dec 01, 2011

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, and it seems many shoppers decided to forego the stampedes and fistfights associated with Black Friday and shop from their office chairs on Monday instead. IBM is reporting that it may well have been the strongest Cyber Monday yet with online sales up over last year by 33%, and order value up 2.6%. Another big change: more and more people are doing their shopping via a mobile device such as a smart phone or tablet. Almost 11% of traffic to online retailers was from mobile users. Sales via mobile devices were up as well, from 2.3% last year to 6.6% this year.

Both the Kindle and the Nook were big sellers, which is hardly a surprise. You can't turn on the TV, surf the internet, or read the newspaper these days without seeing an ad for one (or all) of the companies' devices. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have pulled out all the stops for the Christmas season ad campaigns. The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon says it sold more than four times as many Kindles as they did on Black Friday 2010. While Amazon's not releasing any concrete sales figures (as usual), it's the snazzy new Kindle Fire that's been the top seller according to its website, with the two Kindle Touches currently coming in second and third.

A trend retailers seem to be noticing is people buying more than one e-reader, and are likely keeping one for themselves. With Nook and Kindle both offering basic e-readers as well as higher-end tablets, I wonder which version buyers are keeping for themselves?

it's undeniable, sales are looking really good but once people have their e-readers the big question remains: will people buy ebooks in a consistent manner or will the devices be cast aside after the initial novelty wears off? Are these people readers, or just device-collectors? Amazon and B&N are counting on the future sales of ebooks to off-set the deep holiday discounts on the hardware, but if the general public wasn't buying paperbacks will they buy ebooks once the bloom is off the rose?

Amazon also had almost 1,000 ebook titles listed at bargain prices on Monday (though Amazon is continuing Cyber Monday pricing throughout the week) with many top titles selling well below sticker price, some as low as $2. So what if you want to buy a present for someone who already has an e-reader can you gift an ebook? Yes, you can, and Open Road Media, the digital publisher and multimedia content company, has created several videos showing just how easy it is to gift an ebook, for Kindles, Nooks, and Kobos.

If this year is the e-reader Christmas, let's hope next year it's all about the books.

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