E-book sales surpass physical book sales on Barnes & Noble website

Retail chain reports Nook e-readers now the top-selling items in its history

If anyone out there still thinks e-books are a passing fad, here's a sobering fact: Retail book-selling giant Barnes & Noble reports that e-books are now outselling physical books on the B&N website.

The company, which unveiled its $250 Android-powered Nookcolor e-reader in October, said it sold 1 million e-books on Christmas Day alone. Sales could have been even higher, but Barnes & Noble servers were overwhelmed by visitors on Christmas Day and into Sunday, preventing many users from accessing the site. After Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble's BN.com is the world's second-largest online bookstore. Amazon, which kicked off the e-reader revolution three years ago with its Kindle, says the device, now in its third-generation, is its biggest all-time seller. Kindle sales this year tripled the amount sold in 2009. The e-book market, viewed skeptically in some circles even a year ago, is expected to explode in the next few years. According to Forrester Research, e-book sales in the U.S. will nearly triple to $2.8 billion in 2015 from $1 billion last year. Forrester also expects U.S. e-book and tablet sales to quadruple to 60 million in 2015 from 15 million last year.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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