2014: USA EBook Reader Sales: 75 Million Units, Penetration Rate: 22%

Cumulative sales of EBook readers in the USA will reach close to 75 million units by 2014 with a penetration rate of around 22% marking an inflection point for the US Book publishing industry. My preliminary projections on EBook Reader sales in the USA are based on studying similar adoption patterns.


The adoption of DVD Players and Digital Cameras, both of which exhibit similar dynamics, serve as a basis for predicting adoption and diffusion of EBook readers:

  1. Digital Cameras replaced Film-based photography overcoming a widely used and deeply entrenched user base. The adoption of Digital-Photo technology resulted in  significant changes to the overall ecosystem. EBook adoption will also witness similar disruption and changes to value-chain. 
  2. DVD Players replaced an incumbent technology – VCR’s and associated video library; the sunk costs weighed heavily in the minds of potential adopters. EBook adopters will also confront similar choices.
  3. Sales of DVD Players is closely tied to the number of DVD software titles available. The DVD Tie-Ratio at launch in 1997 was 18 climbing to a peak of 56 in 2008.EBook reader sales and adoption will also be tied to the number of EBook titles available.   

Note: Tie-Ratio is defined as the ratio of DVD Software Titles sales to the number of DVD players sold. A high availability of DVD titles stimulates more demand for DVD players.

Applying the Bass diffusion model and using regression analysis of historical sales data (1997 –2008) for DVD Players and Digital Cameras we obtain the following technology diffusion parameters (Table below).


Digital Camera

DVD Player

EBook Reader

Coefficient of Innovation





Coefficient of Imitation





Inflection Point (Yrs)





* Note: EBook adoption parameters are predicted.

Adoption of DVD Players was faster compared to the Digital Cameras. This can be attributed to the fact that DVD’s were an incremental innovation to an existing but familiar usage of video recording technology prevalent in VCR’s. In contrast Digital Cameras were a radical departure from existing film technology with changes in learning, usage and ecosystem requirements. As a consequence Digital Cameras adoption was slower compared to DVD Players.

The adoption of EBook Readers should follow a similar pattern, somewhere between the two extremes,reaching an inflection point by 2014, 7-years from launch. Although the technology behind EBooks has existed for years in the form of computers, laptops and net-books the changes are mainly behavioral – in the adopters reading habits.

EBook adoption may accelerate depending on the use of marketing mix elements, availability of EBook titles and how competition unfolds in the coming years all of which can significantly alter the adoption process.

Appendix: Sales Forecast of DVD Players and Digital Cameras based on Bass Diffusion Model.

1. USA – DVD Players Sales (Forecasted vs. Actual )


2. USA – Digital Camera Sales (Forecasted vs quick weight loss diet plan. Actual )



  1. Digital Camera Sales (1997–2008)- PMA Marketing Research
  2. DVD Players and DVD Software Title Sales (1997-2009) – DEG, Digital Entertainment Group
  3. SPSS for statistical analysis.