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It happened so fast: E-books now surpass print book sales at Amazon

Less than 4 years after they were introduced by Amazon, e-books have now overtaken print.

By / May 19, 2011

"We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly," says Jeff Bezos, Amazon's CEO of the company's report that it now sells more e-books than print books.

Ben Margot/AP

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It was just before Christmas of 2007 that Amazon introduced the Kindle and began selling e-books. Two and a half years later, in July, 2010, the company announced that it was selling more e-books than hardcovers. Six months after that, it said that e-book sales had overtaken paperback sales.

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Now, Amazon announces, it is selling 105 Kindle e-books for every 100 print books.

"Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly – we've been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years," Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, said in a statement.

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In part the company credits its Kindle with Special Offers (an advertising-supported version of the e-reader which sells for $114) with speeding the rise of its e-book sales. The low-priced device is "already the bestselling member of the Kindle family in the US," according to Amazon.

Outside of Amazon, how fast are e-book sales growing? According to Barnes & Noble executive Marc Parrish, 2013 will be the tipping point. In other words, traditional book retailers have only two years in which to adapt to an e-book-centric industry.

Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's Books editor.

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