When the big US retailers Barnes and Noble stopped selling ebooks via its website last year, traditionalist critics were quick to announce “the death of the ebook”.

It’s not hard to see why. Last year was undoubtedly a bad year for the ebook idea, with Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc, probably the leading player in ebook publishing, also withdrawing from the business. But while you can understand critics taking revenge on IT companies and techno-pundits who spent the last decade prematurely prophesying “the death of the book”, overall, things are more complicated.

In late December, Adobe Digital Media Store went back into ebook retail, opening a site selling books (everything from novels to magazine articles) in its PDF format. Around the same time, the Open eBook Forum (OeBF), electronic publishing’s trade and standards body, announced that ebook sales in the US had risen by 32% in the first nine months of 2003. The OeBF estimated overall sales for the year at around $10m.

More here.