If the Internet seemed slow last Sunday, it might have been because around the world, literally millions of new e-reader owners spent a fair part of the day downloading e-books.
It's too early to know exactly how many e-readers were sold this year as holiday gifts. But on December 5, Amazon announced that its customers had been purchasing Kindles at the rate of more than 1 million per week -- for the past three straight weeks.
Barnes & Noble was expected to take delivery on 1.1 million Nook Tablets and 400,000 Nook Colors during 2011's fourth quarter, according to a DigiTimes report, which adds that "the vendor has set a target to order 4.0-4.1 million 7-inch Nook Tablets" for 2012.
And in the UK, "At just £89, the all-new Kindle... was by far the biggest selling product of the festive period," said Christopher North, Managing Director of Amazon.co.uk Ltd. "As a result, Christmas Day will be one of the biggest sales days of the year for Kindle books as people turn on the device and download their favourite title in under 60 seconds."
When it comes to filling their new e-readers, most new owners will go to the source. Logically, Kindle owners will head straight for Amazon; Nook owners will shop at Barnes & Noble. These two mega-retailers alone offer readers their choice of many hundreds of thousands of e-books.
Because of the sheer number of titles available, these online superstores are easiest to navigate when readers know exactly what they want to purchase. But for e-book readers who aren't sure what they're looking for, there are a growing number of websites that focus solely on e-books, striving to make the online e-book buying experience as relaxed and enjoyable as browsing in a physical bookstore.
Of these, Super E-Reads.com is unique. Super E-Reads doesn't sell books directly to readers. Instead, the website collects, or catalogs e-books. On each e-book's catalog page, readers can enjoy author interviews, watch a book trailer, read an excerpt of the book and see what reviewers have to say -- then click through any of the multiple direct buy links to the online retailer appropriate for their reading device when they decide to make a purchase.
Many of the titles listed on Super E-Reads were previously published in print. Some are former New York Times bestsellers. Thanks to electronic self-publishing, the authors of these books are able to make their out-of-print titles available to readers once again as e-books.
Others are written by authors who have elected to bypass traditional publishing altogether. Darcie Chan's New York Times and USA Today bestselling Mill River Recluse, which tells the story of a wealthy Vermont widow who bestows her fortune on town residents who barely knew her, and Sam Winston's What Came After, a post-apocalyptic adventure in a desolate and treacherous world, are two examples of the excellent books featured at Super E-Reads which are currently available only in "e."
"What appeals to me as a reader," says author Barbara Taylor Sissel about the Super E-Reads online catalog, "is the way the genres are listed right there on the main page, with no confusion. The whole website is streamlined and professional, very straightforward and easy to navigate. And with one click you have such a variety of information, all in one spot."
A typical e-reading device has room for between 1,000 and 5,000 e-books. Which means that whether their new owners shop at the large online retailers, or seek out alternative websites like Super E-Reads, there's going to be plenty of quality downloading time for e-book readers in the days ahead.