August 7, 2002, 12:00 AM

Demand is growing for e-books for hand-held devices

Online merchants eBooks.com and Fictionwise.com say demand is increasing for digital books downloaded to hand-held devices. 75% of Fictionwise.com’s book sales of 15,000 a month are in PDA format.

Online merchants eBooks.com and Fictionwise.com say they are seeing stepped up demand for digital books downloaded to hand-held devices.

Both retailers, working with technology provider OverDrive.com, have expanded their e-book inventory to include hundreds of titles in Microsoft Corp.’s Microsoft Reader format, which enables consumers to download and read e-books on hand-held devices as well as laptops and desktop PCs. Fictionwise also offers e-books formatted for hand-helds from Palm Inc.

Scott Pendergrast, co-owner of Fictionwise.com, said the new capability is helping Fictionwise handle growth of e-book sales. "Fictionwise sells over 15,000 e-books a month now, and about 75% are read on PDAs," he tells Internet Retailer.

He adds that total sales grew 400% last year, and that continuing growth in the number of member customers should drive further growth. "We have over 50,000 members and are growing at a rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a month," he says.

Suzanne Cole, manager of acquisitions and publisher relations at e-books.com, said her company has received an "enthusiastic response" from customers interested in its inventory of e-books formatted for downloads to hand-held devices.

The e-book industry overall is seeing strong growth. A study released last month by the Open e-book Forum (www.openanebook.org) released the following statistics: * Random House, Inc.’s e-book revenues doubled year-over-year in 2001 and during the latest quarter ending in March, revenues were the highest since the company began selling e-books in 1998. * HarperCollins’ e-book imprint, PerfectBound, has sold more e-books in the first five months of 2002 than in all of 2001. * Average monthly downloads of Adobe Acrobat e-book Reader have increased by approximately 70% from 2001 to 2002. * Simon & Schuster has seen double-digit growth in e-book sales from the first half of 2001 to the first half of 2002. * Over 5 million copies of Microsoft Reader have been distributed for use on desktop, note-book and Pocket PC systems. * Palm Digital Media reports that nearly 180,000 e-books were sold in 2001, a more than 40% increase from 2000. * In 2002, McGraw-Hill Professional e-book sales are up 55% over the same period last year.

 

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