It won’t come as a surprise to our regular readers, but now we can say it’s official. Tablets and e-readers were BIG over the holidays.

In fact, from mid-December to early January, the number of tablet owning adults in the US jumped from 10% to 19%, according to research completed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Ownership of e-book readers also went up by the same percentage, from 10% to 19%.

tabletsPew noted that the percentage of adults owning tablets and e-readers was relatively stagnant from the middle of 2011 into the fall.

So what changed to turn tablets and e-readers into big sellers in late 2011? Near the end of August, the HP TouchPad $99 firesale was announced, and suddenly the interest in lower-cost tablets took off. On November 14, the Amazon Kindle fire was launched. On November 16 the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet was launched. Along with the the launches of the Amazon Fire and Nook Tablet, Amazon and B&N dropped the prices of the older versions of their e-readers. Sales of both tablets and e-readers skyrocketed.

However, shoppers have been very selective in their choices – not all tablets and e-readers have been equally successfully when it comes to sales. While Apple, Amazon, and B&N devices are selling, quite a few companies have had big flops along the way. The former CEO’s of both HP and RIM were tossed out in part because of the troubles they had in getting their tablets into the hands of shoppers.