The biggest surprise emanating from the AAP's new monthly statistics program was the growth of the e-book market (News, Mar. 24). According to the data, e-book sales were $3.3 million in January 2003 after sales of just a shade over $200,000 in January 2002. The numbers come with a number of caveats: sales are still small, and the AAP figures include the reports of only six publishers—Farrar, Straus & Giroux, HarperCollins, John Wiley, Random House, St. Martin's and Simon & Schuster—which are likely the biggest, though not the only, players in the market.

Despite the shortcomings, e-book insiders were happy with the news—first just with the fact that the AAP is collecting and reporting sales, then with the numbers themselves. "We've had double digit growth in e-book sales for a long time, but these numbers reflect that AAP is really just beginning to get its act together about e-books. The more they do this, the better the numbers will get," said Jeff Gomez, SMP e-book and print-on-demand manager. In fact, the AAP is hoping that more e-book publishers will start reporting sales now that a system has been established.

Gomez pointed to lower pricing, wider distribution and the increased bundling of MS Reader and the Palm Reader into computers and PDAs as potential reasons for growth, adding, "A year ago, all I read about e-books were these death-knell articles. This industry is becoming real."