September 23, 2009
Best Buy, Verizon to Boost E-Book Sales by Millions
(New York, New York)--Best Buy and Verizon have joined the eBook craze witha new reading device that may rival Amazon's best-selling Kindle.Called the iRex DR800SG, it is already one of Europe's most popular e-readers. Priced at $399, the touch-screen device will be able to buy digital books and newspapers wirelessly through the 3G networks of Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. Suppliers include Barnes & Noble's e-bookstore and NewspaperDirect, offering more than a thousand papers."Over five million e-readers are expected to be sold this year as eBooks continue to grow exponentially in popularity," says Joel Hochman of Arbor Books. "Add this to the millions of cell phones that can also act as e-readers and digital books are expected to take an even larger chunk of print sales."Thousands of Best Buy employees have been trained to demonstrate e-readers like the Sony Reader and iRex, and all the chain's 1,048 stores will have dedicated areas to showcase the different devices.The black-and-gray iRex (with an eight-inch screen) is similar to rivals like the Kindle DX, which has a ten-inch screen and costs $489, and Sony's new $399 Reader Daily Edition with its seven-inch screen."E-Books and eBook downloads are the future," says Larry Leichman of Arbor Books. "Just as with music, our publishing industry is undergoing an exciting revolution. Content will be king. Anyone with a book--whether ghostwritten or written with a ghostwriter--will have an equal shot at fame and fortune."Barnes & Noble said it planned to market eBooks "in really big and interesting ways" to the seventy-seven million customers who walk into its stores every year.The immediate goal for the eBook market is to bring the costs of e-readers to $99 or less, which could happen if wireless providers like Verizon subsidize the devices and sell them in their stores, as they do with netbooks. This could happen soon if e-readers continue to sell well because wireless providers get paid for the bandwidth required to distribute content--a potential major revenue stream.For now, the next anticipated steps are Apple's entry into the market with a more general-purpose tablet computer and Google's possible move with its own device to complement its book catalog and book programs.