Today we launched a new report, "Forrester's eReader Holiday Outlook 2009" (full version available to Forrester clients here), which updates our projections for eReader sales in 2009 and 2010. The data in this report comes from Forrester's consumer surveys as well as interviews with vendors and retailers.

E Ink recently announced that its 2009 revenues to date were up 250%, and were exceeding its earlier expectations. We, too, are observing the eReader market growing faster than we had expected: We published a report in May, "How Big Is The eReader Opportunity?", that pegged 2009 US eReader sales at 2 million. Our new report ups that projection by 50% to 3 million for 2009, with 30% of 2009 sales occuring in the holiday season of November and December.

There are a number of reasons why eReader sales are growing faster than we had expected, which we detail in the report, including falling device prices, more content availability, better retail distribution, and lots and lots of media buzz.

All these dynamics will compound to fuel more growth next year, and we expect more changes in the market that could push eReader sales beyond 6 million in 2010, bringing cumulative US sales to 10 million by year-end 2010. To get our full perspective on what will happen next year, you'll have to read the report, but here are a few highlights. In 2010, we'll see:

  • The first "eReader" devices that don't use E Ink (which means they'll take a shortcut to having color and video)
  • A new generation of tablet PCs from Apple, Microsoft, and others, as well as dual-screen devices that make use of both E Ink and LCD screens from companies like Asus and Samsung, that will complicate the eReader market and expand consumer choice
  • Flexible displays, new screen sizes, more touch, color, and video (video not from E Ink)
  • Barnes & Noble step up serious competition to Amazon

What Santa Delivers Has As Much To Do With The Retailer As The Consumer

The success of the holiday season, and next year's growth, depends a lot on retailers and the extent to which they improve in-store merchandising for eReaders. Best Buy is in the process of rolling out "Gadget and eReader" sections in all its stores, and training its staff to be more equipped to sell eReaders. But walk into your typical Borders bookstore, as I did recently, and you're likely to get quizzical looks from sales staff when you ask about eReaders and have a hard time finding the kiosks where the devices are on display.

Retailers we spoke with are making changes to improve the merchandising experience, but we're realistic about the limits of what they can change in a single season. Our holiday projections should be seen for what they are: An acknowledgement that 2009 has been and will be a year of breakout success for eReaders, tempered by realism that retailers, despite their best intentions, are still learning how to sell these products to curious but uninformed consumers.