By David Lieberman, Technology Live
The business story for eBooks is about to become more compelling, but with some plot twists, according to a forecast out today from Forrester Research.
The research firm projects that nearly 60 million consumers will pay more than $2.8 billion for eBooks in 2015 -- up from 17.6 million people spending $966 million this year.
But only about half of all those book lovers will be turning digital pages on a dedicated eReader -- with the rest turning to computers, smartphones, and tablets.
The research firm says that its online survey of 4,064 adults this past summer found that eBook readers typically use more than one device. The most popular platform is laptop computers, used by 35% of eBook readers vs. 32% who use an Amazon Kindle.
After that, 15% use an iPhone followed by Sony eReaders, netbook computers, Barnes and Noble Nook eReaders, and then 9% who use an Apple iPad.
Book publishers, who've been skittish about the eBook phenomenon, paradoxically are helping to promote digital reading. When publishers won their effort early this year to raise eBook prices, Amazon and other retailers began to make money on digital book sales-- and used those profits to cut prices for their eReaders.
Amazon slashed the price of a new Kindle to as low as $139 and "looks like an angel to its customers, who are buying up cheap eReaders faster than ever and are in a position to buy even more eBooks with the money they didn't spend on the devices," Forrester analyst James McQuivey says.
But interest in dedicated eReaders will diminish after 2011, he says, as light readers become interested in eBooks. They'll want a multipurpose device -- and will have lots of options as manufacturers flood stores with tablets similar to the iPad.