Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon Reaches The E-Book Tipping Point: Kindle Sales Blow By Print

Hard to believe that just a few years ago, e-books were still a novelty item. Now Amazon is selling more e-book titles than print combined.

Amazon says that since April, it has been selling 105 Kindle titles for every 100 print copies it moves. Reminder: Amazon only started selling Kindle e-readers in November 2007.

In the past, we’ve seen similar numbers from Jeff Bezos and company, but they’ve always come with caveats–Amazon was only talking about hardcovers, or softcovers, etc. Now Amazon wants to be clear–it’s comparing apples to apples (and not counting free e-book titles, which are very popular on the site).

Amazon still hasn’t released sales numbers on actual Kindle units, but today we can give the company a pass on its non-disclosure, and just let it soak up the plaudits it deserves for moving its flagship business from physical to digital in less than four years. (Pay attention, newspaper, TV, movie, and music executives!)

From Amazon’s release:

  • Since April 1, for every 100 print books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.
  • So far in 2011, the tremendous growth of Kindle book sales, combined with the continued growth in Amazon’s print book sales, have resulted in the fastest year-over-year growth rate for Amazon’s U.S. books business, in both units and dollars, in over 10 years. This includes books in all formats, print and digital. Free books are excluded in the calculation of growth rates.
  • In the five weeks since its introduction, Kindle with Special Offers for only $114 is already the bestselling member of the Kindle family in the U.S.
  • Amazon sold more than 3x as many Kindle books so far in 2011 as it did during the same period in 2010.
  • Less than one year after introducing the U.K. Kindle Store, Amazon.co.uk is now selling more Kindle books than hardcover books, even as hardcover sales continue to grow. Since April 1, Amazon.co.uk customers are purchasing Kindle books over hardcover books at a rate of more than 2 to 1.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work