We’ve mentioned before that the iPhone seems to be outpacing the Kindle in e-reading popularity. Now no less a publication than Forbes has taken notice.

Write Andy Greenberg and James Erik Abels:

Stanza, a book reading application offered in Apple’s (nasdaq: AAPLnews- people ) iPhone App Store since July, has been downloaded more than 395,000 times and continues to be installed at an average rate of about 5,000 copies a day, according to Portland, Ore.-based Lexcycle, the three-person start-up that created the reading software.

By comparison, Citigroup estimates Amazon will sell around 380,000 Kindles in 2008. Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey expects Sony’s (nyse:SNEnews - people ) Reader will sell only a fraction of that number. In other words, Apple may have inadvertently sold more e-readers than any other company in the nascent digital book market.

The article highlights the growing popularity of the iPhone platform compared to the Kindle, and it even-handedly points out the pros and cons of the iPhone’s smaller but faster-refreshing LCD screen compared to the Kindle’s e-ink. This is all to the good.

But in basing their comparison only on Stanza’s public-domain library of titles, with no mention at all of Fictionwise’s eReader or the Bookshelf/Baen Webscriptions collaboration, the Forbes writers are comparing, well, an Apple and oranges.

The article seems to imply that there are no commercial booksellers for the iPhone platform yet, and will not be until Lexcycle’s “deals with several major publishers” at the end of the year. This is, in fact, very far from the truth.

As Steve Pendergrast of Fictionwise said, the iPhone eReader app had been installed almost 250,000 times by the end of August, with over 300,000 titles downloaded by its users. As a current commercial publisher for the iPhone, with ten years in business and thousands of titles available in a variety of formats, Fictionwise/eReader is a much better subject for comparison to the Amazon Kindle store.

And even that leaves aside the Baen Webscription e-book store, which has been going almost as long as Fictionwise, and offers automatic download of its e-books directly into the Bookshelf iPhone app.

Still, it is good to see the iPhone and iPod Touch getting this sort of positive comparison to the Kindle in a major Internet news source even if the coverage is a bit lopsided.

Related Coverage: MacDailyNews also has some decent commentary on the article. Plus the line, “Plus, as an added bonus, iPhone doesn’t look like something John Dykstra superglued together back in 1975,” which is worth linking just to quote.

And oddly enough, even a Sony Insider blogger waxes enthusiastic about Stanza.