Amazon: E-book sales now outpace those of dead tree books
Amazon e-books are more popular than print books, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said today.
"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," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos wrote in a press statement. Bezos added that the "Kindle with Special Offers" – a cheaper Kindle edition that displays advertisements – has become Amazon's most popular e-reader.
The sales figures break down like this, according to Amazon: since April 1, Amazon sold 105 Kindle books for every 100 print books. Meanwhile, Amazon sold more than 3 times as many e-books thus far in 2011 as it did during the same period last year. Over in the UK, customers are purchasing Kindle books over hardcover books at a rate of more than 2 to 1.
True to company form, Amazon did not provide any concrete numbers on sales – just ratios and abstractions. Bloomberg News, citing a report from investment firm Benchmark Company, puts the estimated number of Kindle sales at 8 million last year alone, some 5 percent of total Amazon sales. No word on the e-books themselves.
As we reported back in the winter of 2009, when the e-reading boom was really lurching into high gear, no one ever expected the transition from traditional books to e-readers to be painless, or especially fast. Books occupy a different place in American culture from TV or movies. They are sacrosanct objects symbols of universal knowledge. Still, over the past two years, e-reading – and the e-reader market – have expanded at an incredible pace.
Earlier this month, Amazon introduced a new e-book format called Kindle Singles, which the company describes as "compelling ideas expressed at their natural length." The idea behind Singles is a pretty simple one: For five bucks or less, users can download a 5,000 to 30,000-word piece of fiction or non-fiction. Among the first Kindle Singles releases are works by Rich Cohen,Jodi Picoult, Pete Hamill, and Darin Strauss.
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