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e-Reader Sales Are Buoyant

e-reader sales early in the holiday season are showing signs of a record Christmas as the industry is poised to triple its sales this year.

Amazon and Sony reported November as their best sales months to date, even prior to Cyber Monday on Nov. 30.

Insight Media analyst Norbert Hildebrand said the industry might exceed predictions for 4 million unit sales worldwide. He believes the U.S. might see sales of 2 million e-readers during Q4 if supplies meet demand.

Amazon is not expected to run out of e-readers this Christmas (as it has for the past two Christmas seasons), according to analyst Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester Research. “Based on what I’ve heard from Amazon’s supply-chain partners, there’s no reason to believe that Amazon will have Kindle shortages this holiday season,” she said.

Forrester predicts e-reader sales of 3 million in the U.S., up from 1 million last year.

Other e-reader suppliers are experiencing shortages and delays. Late last month, Barnes & Noble and Sony reported difficulty meeting pre-order demand for their first e-readers with 3G wireless book downloads.

Barnes & Noble delayed its in-store launch of its Nook e-reader by one week to today, Dec. 7, and a statement indicated only demo units would be provided initially to most stores. The bookseller has been accepting Nook pre-orders online, but these have also sold out for Christmas.

Sony, while hoping to ship pre-orders of its new wireless Daily Edition in time for Christmas, stated on its Web site it cannot guarantee delivery before January.

Sony said pre-order demand for its $399 Daily Edition announced in August is “extremely high.”

Sony’s non-3G wireless Pocket and Touch edition e-readers are sold through 10,000 store outlets, and Sony claimed its Touch model “is flying off shelves.” The spokesman added, “It’s going to be a great holiday season for the Reader.”

A second-tier supplier, Foxit, also reported back-orders on its eSlick e-reader.