We didn't find much data on e-books, but we did find an interesting article on the New York Times that reported on good sales for Amazon's Kindle. Maybe too good - there are no sales figures but we do know that the $359 Kindle, it is out of stock and unavailable until February. Actually, PC Magazine reported already on December 1st that "Amazon now lists the Kindle's shipping date as 11 to 13 weeks".
Apparently it's the "fault" of Oprah Winfrey, who praised the Kindle on her show in October, and got many people to buy it. I guess Amazon didn't take Oprah into consideration and hence left with not enough Kindle devices for the holiday season.
The NYT reports that "the shortage is providing an opening for Sony, which embarked on an intense publicity campaign for its Reader device during the gift-buying season. The stepped-up competition may represent a coming of age for the entire idea of reading longer texts on a portable digital device."
Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading division, is quoted in the article saying that the sales of Reader 700, a $400 device, "had tripled this holiday season over last, in part because the device is now available in the Target, Borders and Sam's Club chains." He also said Sony had sold more than 300,000 devices since the debut of the original Reader in 2006.
How is it compared with the Kindle? it's hard to tell. Estimates mentioned in the article are anywhere between 260,000-1,000,000 units, and that's before Winfrey's endorsement.
Still, to put things in propotion we have to remember that e-books are still small fraction of the market. According to the artilce and other sources publishers like HarperCollins, Random House and Simon & Schuster say that the sales of e-books for any device constitute less than 1 percent of total book sales.
More related links:
Happy Holidays for Sony Reader by Craig Morgan Teicher - Publishers Weekly, December 22
No Happy Holidays For Publishing (Host Scott Simon speaks to Charlotte Abbott, contributing editor for Publishers Weekly) - NPR, December 20
E-books vs. paper books - Eco-Libris resource page
Raz @ Eco-Libris