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Recent holiday season boosts e-book sales

Bookseller Barnes & Noble Inc. reported Dec. 30 its line of Nook e-reading devices were the biggest-selling items in its history, and added it sold nearly 1 million e-books on Christmas Day.

The New York company said its Nookcolor e-reader, which launched eight weeks before Christmas, was its top-selling gift of the holiday season.

Barnes & Noble also said it now sells more digital books than physical books on its website. Nearly 1 million e-books were purchased on Christmas Day alone, the company said, with popular titles including James Patterson's "Cross Fire" and Stieg Larsson's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Electronic book readers are a nascent but growing electronic category, and companies have so far been reticent to say exactly how many are selling. On Dec. 27,, which sells the Kindle electronic book reader, said its third-generation Kindle was the bestselling product in its history, besting the seventh book in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

Forrester Research expects U.S. e-book sales to total $2.8 billion in 2015, up from nearly $1 billion in 2010. The research firm projects the number of e-readers and tablets in the U.S. will soar from more than 15 million in 2010 to nearly 60 million in 2015.


Dec. 25 and 26 were the two biggest e-book sales days ever for Random House, Inc., the largest U.S. English-language trade book publisher. Combined e-book sales across e-retailers on those two days rose more than 300 percent over last year's sales for the same two-day period, which had been Random House's best two-day e-book sales period ever.

Leading titles from this two-day holiday selling period include Larsson's Millennium Trilogy -- "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest -- with a combined 115,000 units sold in e-book format across e-retailers.

For the first time, Random House also saw a significant sales increase for its children's picture books available in e-book format, including "Go, Dog, Go," a classic children's book written and illustrated by P. D. Eastman, published by Random House Children's in 1961.

Random House currently has more than 17,000 of its front and backlist titles in e-book format.

Best-seller lists

And, millions of gift-wrapped digital reading devices resulted in an unprecedented surge in sales of e-books in the week immediately following the Christmas holiday.

USA Today's Best-Selling Books list, published Jan. 6, showed digital's new popularity: E-book versions of the top six books outsold the print versions the previous week. And of the top 50, 19 had higher e-book than print sales.

It's the first time the top-50 list has had more than two titles in which the e-version outsold print.

The e-book surge of the past month isn't a "sustainable trend," says Kelly Gallagher of the publishing research firm Bowker, who says sales could flatten this year but still could be twice as high as they were in 2010. (E-books sales account for about 9 percent of the market.)

Amazon's Russ Grandinetti says the online bookseller began seeing e-books outsell print best sellers in October, but "our print business continues to grow. We see e-books as an additive more than a substitute."

-- The Associated Press