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TECH TRENDS

Electronic book readers poised to become this holiday season's hot gift

September 30, 2009|Alex Pham

Will digital books catch fire this holiday? According to an online survey, 1 in 5 shoppers said they planned to buy an electronic book reader such as a Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle this year.

When asked what they would like to get as a gift, about 1 in 10 cited a digital book reader. Portable music players, once the hot holiday ticket, got just 3.4% of the vote, while game consoles came in at 6%, according to the survey commissioned by Retrevo, a gadget review website.

Likely buyers tend to be men under 35 years old who are living in the Northeast, where more people use public transportation, with an average annual household income of more than $100,000, according to the survey of 771 respondents.

Of those who said they planned to buy an electronic book reader, 62% said they would buy Amazon's Kindle 2 or Kindle DX, while 32% favored the Sony Reader. Although Amazon.com Inc. and Sony Corp. dominate the business today, more devices are scheduled to hit the U.S. market within the next year.

To give its online bookstore a boost, Sony said it had partnered with two firms, Smashwords and Author Solutions, to help independent writers self-publish digital books on Sony's eBook Store, which currently sells more than 130,000 titles.

Although sales of electronic books constitute less than 5% of the $25-billion book market, it's a fast-growing category within publishing, said Chris Smythe, director of Sony's online bookstore.

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alex.pham@latimes.com

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