Around 6.6 million e-book readers will ship this year, representing a huge 80 per cent increase against the 3.6 million shipped in 2009, according to new figures from Gartner.
The rapid increase may be down to the increased availability of devices, including new models from market leaders Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Sony, but Gartner warned vendors against complacency.
The market is becoming crowded and is at risk of commoditisation and competition from tablet PCs such as Apple's iPad.
Hugues De La Vergne, a principal research analyst at Gartner, said that Amazon had driven sales, particularly in North America which remains the dominant market for e-book readers with four million units shipped this year.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Sony could also face increased competition from HP and Dell with their "connected consumer devices", as well as from low cost models provided by content owners often on a monthly tariff basis.
However, it is tablets that may have the biggest impact, and Gartner suggested that manufacturers should keep prices low in order to remain attractive.
"With media tablets offering more functionality, e-reader vendors need to target avid readers who may see the value of a standalone device that performs particularly well," said Allen Weiner, a research vice president at Gartner.
"E-reader vendors will also need to offer lower prices than for more fully featured media tablets. This will entail smaller profit margins and potential hardware subsidies at retail, and/or the ability to obtain lower-priced components.
"We think few end users will buy an e-reader and a media tablet, so it is important that e-readers retain a price advantage."
Figures released yesterday by ABI Research suggest that the growth in sales is likely to continue, despite the impact of these other devices.
ABI said that it is expecting to see as many as 15 million e-book readers shipped in 2012, and 30 million in 2013.
The analyst firm said that the increased availability of content will drive sales, and that hardware manufacturers closely aligned to an application store or content ecosystem will do the best.
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