Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon Selling So Many Kindles It Can't Count Them

Right? Maybe that’s the reason Amazon doesn’t release sales numbers for its e-reader line–it literally has no idea how many it sold?

Oh. No. That can’t be it, either: Here’s another Amazon press release, which tallies up Kindle sales without actually telling you how many Kindles Amazon has sold.

As usual, Amazon presents a comparison instead of a count: The company says it has moved more third-gen Kindles, which went on sale in August, than its total of older models for the last three months of 2009. Pause. Does the apples-to-pears nature of this one throw you for a loop? Me too.

And another data point: Amazon is now selling more Kindle titles than hardcover and paperback books. That’s a new wrinkle on an old bragging point: In the past, Amazon said that it had sold more Kindle titles than hardcovers.

Not surprisingly, Amazon doesn’t mention the impact of  the iPad on its e-book sales, but it’s likely substantial, since iPad owners can read Kindle titles on Apple’s tablet.

Want to read about Kindle sales from a source other than Amazon? No problem. Here’s a discussion of J.P. Morgan’s report on the e-book boom, and one from Citi about the impact of the Kindle on Amazon’s P&L; Mark Mahaney thinks the Kindle will account for seven percent of the company’s revenue this year.

New Generation Kindle Device Sales Already Surpass Fourth Quarter 2009 – The Peak Holiday Shopping Season and Busiest Time of Year on Amazon Customers Now Buying More Bestsellers on Kindle Than Paperbacks and Hardcovers Combined—At a Rate of 2 to 1

SEATTLE—October 25, 2010—(NASDAQ: AMZN)—The new generation Kindle devices are the fastest-selling Kindles of all time and the bestselling products on and  Today, announced that sales of the new generation Kindle devices since their introduction have already surpassed total Kindle device sales from October through December 2009.

“It’s still October and we’ve already sold more Kindle devices since launch than we did during the entire fourth quarter of last year—astonishing because the fourth quarter is the busiest time of year on Amazon,” said Steve Kessel, Senior Vice President, Amazon Kindle. “Readers continue to choose Kindle for its all-new electronic ink screen with 50 percent higher contrast, readability in bright sunlight, long battery life of up to one month, light 8.5 ounce form, flexibility to read their books across all major LCD devices and platforms, and low $139 price.  It’s clear that this is going to be the biggest holiday for Kindle yet—by far.”

In addition, Kindle book unit sales continue to overtake print on, even while print book sales continue to grow.  During the past 30 days, customers purchased more Kindle books than print books—hardcover and paperback combined—for the top 10, 25, 100, and 1,000 bestselling books on

“For the top 10 bestselling books on, customers are choosing Kindle books over hardcover and paperback books combined at a rate of greater than 2 to 1.  Kindle books are also outselling print books for the top 25, 100, and 1,000 bestsellers—it’s across the board,” said Kessel.  “This is remarkable when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover and paperback books for 15 years, and Kindle books for just 36 months.”

Other recent milestones for Kindle include:

• In the 12 weeks following the introduction of the new generation Kindles, Kindle devices or Kindle-related items such as Kindle books and covers represented 15 of the top 15 bestselling items on and combined.

• Amazon sold more than 3 times as many Kindle books in the first nine months of 2010 as in the first nine months of 2009.

• The Association of American Publishers’ latest data reports that e-book sales grew 193 percent between January and August 2010. Kindle book sales growth during the same period exceeded this rate.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik