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Old 10-20-2006, 03:40 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Early Sony Connect e-book sales to top $500,000 by end of October

The Oct 20, 2006 ePage Insights newsletter from Nick Hampshire is reporting some early figures for the number of Sony Readers that have made it to market. Here are some interesting tidbits to whet your appetite, which are directly quoted because of the sensitivity to specific wording:

* An initial batch of 10,000 units of the new reader was delivered to Sony US in September
* ...these went on sale in around 750 shops across the US as well as via online outlets such as Amazon and of course Sony’s own online sales operation.
* One of the main high street outlets were 300 Borders shops, these typically sold out of the dozen units they had received within the first two days.
* ...with the first batch likely to be sold out before the end of October we can be confident that first month e-book sales will have topped $M 0.5.

For more information, you can subscribe to his newsletter at Digital Publishing News. There is also an RSS feed there, but I couldn't get it to work. There may be some sort of sign up process required.

At any rate, this is the first realistic stab at sales figures that I've heard so far. It's not clear how accurate these numbers are, nor what his sources are, but if they are accurate, this is a very encouraging beginning for the Sony Reader.

Note: From some great observations in the thread discussion, it seems that the intent of the original article may have been to say that e-book sales (not Reader hardware sales) will have topped $500,000. But the information is sketchy and we obviously don't have the details sorted out... yet. I have adjusted the thread title, and will try to contact Nick (the oritinal article's author) for clairification.
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Old 10-20-2006, 03:59 PM   #2
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Let's see, 10,000/750 = 13 1/3 units per location, that sounds about right. I think discussion here at MR supports the 'sold out in a couple of days' comment.

Sales have topped $500k? I should say so! 10,000 * $350 = $3,500,000! Even allowing for them talking about wholesale rather than retail prices (as I'm sure they are) they've got to be well over a measly half-million.

It also sheds some light on the availability, certainly 10,000 is a lot of units, but spread across the U.S. (and a bit beyond ) it doesn't go very far.

I guess this also confirms that the Readers are generally selling well amongst non-MobileReaders.
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:03 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
I guess this also confirms that the Readers are generally selling well amongst non-MobileReaders.
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:15 PM   #4
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I think that's a great point, NatCh... we know that Sony is likely to sell well to the geek/tech/early adopter groups. What we have all been waiting for is an e-reader that can appeal to the masses. Sony in approaching that point, and we are waiting eagerly to see if it makes it or not.

Sure, one can argue that the price is high and book selection is somewhat limited at the Connect store, but the price is still comparable to other electronics gadgets, and there are a lot of books to choose from at the online store. You may not find every book you want to read at the store, but certainly you can find plenty of books at the store that you want to read.

The market dynamics are definitely a lot different if you are selling to the general book reading public. And with it, there are different financial incentives for device makers and publishers. I think the basic Sony Reader product is good enough to support that. It has solid hardware and a great screen. By no means is it perfect, or fitted to every kind of reading, but it's a great product and we might just see that significant level of popular interest in an e-book device for the first time. It's an exciting time!

Even more exciting is the knowledge that this is only the first toe in the ocean. More e-ink readers are coming, UMPC LCD screens will be getting better, smart phones are being adopted more and more, and new display technologies will pop up over time. We've been at the brink of something special in the e-book world for a long time. It's about time we get over the hump!
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:15 PM   #5
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Yeah, really odd math going on in that article. Counting the Borders stores alone, he says 300 stores at 12 units each - that's 3,600 units. 3,600 * 350 = $1.26 million. And that's just the Borders stores. Even if these things are wholesale at a really low price of $200 (not likely) then that's still $720,000, again from the Borders stores alone.

That's if you assume the unit counts are right. If you assume the dollar figure is right - $500,000 - then that means approximately 1,400 readers were released, not 10,000.
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:16 PM   #6
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaping Gnome
If you assume the dollar figure is right - $500,000
I think it's probably correct -- note the wording of the original statement:
Quote:
we can be confident that first month e-book sales will have topped $M 0.5.
3.5 mill definitely qualifies as 'topping' .5 mill -- they may just be being ridiculously cautious.
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:22 PM   #8
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10,000 readers seems high to me too, particularly since in the forum recently there was a claim that total Librie sales (in how many years) was only around 5,000 units.

Great PR for Sony, though.

If iRex thinks they are having difficulty responding to customers, think of all the Reader customers, if there really are already 10,000, that find out the Connect store isn't quite up to snuff yet.
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Old 10-20-2006, 04:29 PM   #9
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10,000 readers seems high to me too, particularly since in the forum recently there was a claim that total Librie sales (in how many years) was only around 5,000 units.
I got that number "over 5000" from a Sony press release somewhere -- I'm assuming that it's not much over 5k, or they'd have phrased it differently.

I think the main reason that Librie' didn't sell very well was that it would only do TXT and BBeB, and their content service only "sold" (or as rluazon will no doubt point out: "rented" ) you content for 60 days, after which time files would expire.

I thought about trying to get and hack a Librie' but the 60 days thing stopped me so fast that I didn't even find out about the TXT only limitation until earlier this year.
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Old 10-20-2006, 05:49 PM   #10
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I think the main reason that Librie' didn't sell very well was that it would only do TXT and BBeB, and their content service only "sold" (or as rluazon will no doubt point out: "rented" ) you content for 60 days, after which time files would expire.
Nope, it could only do BBeB. However, they later released the toolbar and printer plugins, which you could use to convert your own things, and those, of course were not time-limited. Then there was makelrf.
Also, currently Timebooktown offers non-time-limited books too (they do cost a few yen more though).
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Old 10-20-2006, 05:54 PM   #11
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They are saying "ebook sales" are $500,000, not the ereader hardware sales-- obviously the equipment gross sales are much higher.

They only get that figure by figuring each of the 10,000 readers has a $50 connect book store credit attached...
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Old 10-20-2006, 05:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NatCh
I think it's probably correct -- note the wording of the original statement:3.5 mill definitely qualifies as 'topping' .5 mill -- they may just be being ridiculously cautious.
They do say "e-book sales" also. To me, that means content, not hardware. Of course, the press is often inaccurate in their use of terms, but wouldn't that make a bit more sense? Especially as it's a publishers' newsletter.

Just a guess.
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Old 10-20-2006, 06:07 PM   #13
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Hmm. You might be onto something there. Makes sense, actually: they gave away $50 worth of books with each Reader, and $50 * 10K = $500k. That's probably what they're talking about, that they're assuming we'll all use our credits in the first month.
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Old 10-20-2006, 06:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flumbo
They only get that figure by figuring each of the 10,000 readers has a $50 connect book store credit attached...
According to the newsletter, they got the info from sources in the US sales (emphasis is mine):

According to our sources in the US sales of the Sony Reader got off to flying start with most retailers selling out within a few days. An initial batch of 10,000 units of the new reader was delivered to Sony US in September and these went on sale in around 750 shops across the US as well as via online outlets such as Amazon and of course Sony’s own online sales operation.

And further:

We understand that a second batch of 10,000 will be delivered very soon.

Now I could be wrong but I don't see any Sony Reader on Amazon... and as far as I remember, the Reader got pulled from there even before it was available for order. What I want to say: take these claims with a grain of salt!

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Old 10-20-2006, 06:23 PM   #15
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The report is wrong. Until now there have only been two venues where the Reader has been made available: Sony's online store (where the supply sold out in roughly a day and where it's now backordered til late November) and the 35 or so Sony Style stores across the U.S., each of which initially received between 10 and 20 units. Amazon never carried the device and is unlikely to do so, because it will compete with their upcoming Kindle. Borders sales start next week (yes, about 300 stores), but supplies at Borders are pretty tight. I know of one flagship Borders location in a major city which got allocated fewer than 10 units. That all said, I won't quibble with the overall figure of 10,000, but that may be more a target for 2006 sales in total (or an overall production figure for this year), not booked sales thus far (no pun intended). Those clearly aren't all sold yet. And even if Sony does sell that many, it won't move the needle at Sony, given the battery recall disaster (costing them upwards of a half-billion dollars) and big delays in shipping PS3, which is far more important in the big scheme of Sony than our very nice little ebook device.
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