In late September 1987, the CD-ROM Expo in New York confirmed growing suspicion that despite scores of new CD-ROM products on the market, sales are anything but brisk. The market leader appears to be Grolier, publisher of the Electronic Encyclopedia, a CD-ROM version of the Academic American Encyclopedia. The company has achieved 3,000 sales by selling hardware at cost and focusing on school district sales. Despite the fact that the Encyclopedia is a complete product, rather than a prototype, the majority of users surveyed by Grolier are using it only for testing and demonstrations.
The second best seller appears to be the Library Corporation's Bibliofile, with approximately 1,000 sales.
Most products have sold fewer than 500 copies. Among the constraints appear to be high equipment and subscription costs, lack of standardization which means that CD-ROM disks don't play on all drives, the need for vendors to sell hardware with the disks, and the lack of "real products." The majority of announced products are prototypes, with no assurance of continuing publication.
Nevertheless, long-term forcasts remain very optimistic. Venture Development Corp., a consulting firm specializing in electronics, has forecast one million installed CD-ROM disk drives by 1991. Sales are expected to peak in 1989 and 1990, after which WORM (write-once-read-many) and erasable optical media are expected to gain acceptance.