You can’t throw a rock lately without someone talking about e-readers and e-books.  Kindles, Nooks and Readers … Oh my!  The question is, with all of these companies investing so much into research & development, is the market really there for all of these readers, and even more slated to come?

Amazon reported that the Kindle was the most gifted item this year in the history of the company.  Considering the age of the company, and the number of popular products it carries, that is a pretty impressive assertion.  The more expensive Kindle DX sold out early in the Christmas season, although the cheaper model did make it to the end of the sales period without going out of stock.

kindlesAmazon has also proudly declared that on Christmas day, the retailer sold more Kindle edition books than hard copy books for the first time ever.  While we congratulate Amazon on the accomplishment, that really isn’t all that shocking because you also told us how many Kindles were given as gifts, and of course people wanted to download at least one e-book for their new device, so the math just adds up.  Still, kudos to them.

On the flip side, on Christmas day, Barnes & Noble Nook servers crashed under the strain of the readers that had been delivered at the absolute last minute possible.  As people sat down with their brand new Nooks to download a book, they were greeted with a message that said, “Queued: Will complete shortly.”  The problem was not solved until the next day, and all of the promised purchases were finally downloaded, but it did take a while to happen.

While we have no information on how the Sony reader performed this year, it is obvious that e-readers had a stellar Christmas season this year.  The question is, were they deserving?

The Nook has had many scathing reviews published about it, but yet the device is sold out of every shipment for weeks to come.  The Kindle is still not considered to be a perfected device by many.  And while e-ink seems to be the standard for display, people are still waiting on a color solution so text books will become a possibility in schools.  Battery life and eye strain is all that is keeping color from becoming a reality, but give it enough time and the manufacturers are sure to figure this issue out.

So even though it seems this Christmas was all about e-readers, did they really deserve the notoriety?  Are these devices that prematurely hit the mainstream and will now languish in the back of  a junk drawer for years to come when people tire of carrying around yet another device?  What do you think contributed to their success this holiday season?  Did you get one?  Did you give one?  What are your thoughts on the sudden stratospheric rise in the popularity of these devices?