Barnes and Noble Says Nook E-Reader a Best Seller

Strong sales of Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader suggest digital books are here to stay.

Book seller Barnes & Noble announced that with millions of Nook e-reading devices sold, the line has become the company's biggest bestseller ever in its history. The new Nook color Reader's Tablet, introduced just eight weeks before Christmas, is the company's No. 1 selling gift of the holiday season. Barnes & Noble also announced that it now sells more digital books than its large and growing physical book business on

The company said demand for the Nook color reader remained high following the product's introduction in late October through the holidays, and sales have continued to exceed the company's expectations. The company said it also experienced "robust" sales for its line of Nook 3G and WiFi devices, which feature an E Ink display and a color touch screen for navigation. The Nook color is the first full-color touch e-reader tablet that integrates books, magazines and newspapers in a device that weighs less than a pound. It features a 7-inch VividView color touch screen.

The company also reported record holiday sales from its 2 million title catalog, including nearly 1 million Nook digital books purchased and downloaded on Christmas day. Through Barnes & Noble's eReading offerings, customers can buy and read their Nookbooks on a range of platforms, including Nook color, Nook 3G and WiFi, and using Nook apps on devices including iPad, iPhone, Google Android smartphones and more. Among the best-selling titles of the holiday season were James Patterson's "Cross Fire," Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," "The Confession" by John Grisham and "Decision Points" by former U.S. President George W. Bush.

"Nook color became the gift of choice over the holidays for people who love to read everything-books, magazines, newspapers, children's books and more-in rich, beautiful color," said William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble. "The success of Nook color, along with our unique ability to market Nook devices to readers in our stores and through our strong channel partnerships with Best Buy, Walmart and Books-a-Million, resulted in the continued explosive growth of our digital content business and our Nook line, our most successful products ever. We have a large online book business at that's been recently growing. And the fact that ebook unit sales now exceed physical book sales through illustrates how quickly we've grown this exciting new business at Barnes & Noble."

According to a recent study by IT research firm Gartner, worldwide e-reader sales will total 6.6 million units in 2010, a 79.8 percent increase from 2009. Moreover, the research firm predicts that e-reader sales will increase 68.3 percent in 2011, to more than 11 million units. However, one Gartner analyst suggests that lower prices, combined with targeting a specific customer demographic, will ultimately serve e-readers best in the tablet competition.

"With media tablets offering more functionality, e-reader vendors need to target avid readers who may see the value of a stand-alone device that performs particularly well," Allen Weiner, research vice president at Gartner, wrote in a Dec. 8 statement. "E-reader vendors will also need to offer lower prices than for more fully featured media tablets."