Three and a half years after Amazon.com unveiled the Kindle and revolutionized reading, the company says it’s now selling more e-books than hardcover and paperback books combined.
“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’s founder and CEO said in a statement Thursday.
This latest announcement comes on the heels of Amazon’s report this past January that Kindle book sales had outpaced paperback sales, and a July 2010 report that the e-book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales. Today, Amazon says it sells 105 Kindle books for every 100 print books sold.
As CNN notes:
These stats only represent sales of books on Amazon.com, the only place consumers can buy e-books for the Kindle. When sales of books from other websites and brick-and-mortar stores are factored in, e-books still represent a small minority of all titles purchased, although some analysts predict they could reach 20% within a year or two.
The growth of electronic books has been a bright spot in an otherwise struggling publishing industry. Sales revenue from e-books were up 145.7% in March of this year compared with March 2010, according to the Association of American Publishers. At the same time, adult hardcover sales increased 6%, while mass market books — less-expensive paperbacks — grew by 1.2%.
It may be no wonder. The advent of the e-reader — be it the Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader or what have you, has certainly breathed life into the languishing publishing world. When the Kindle first came out, Amazon was both lauded and criticized for negotiating with publishers to slash prices for its e-books, but readers flocked to the device nevertheless. In the meantime, as sales have risen, the price of the Kindle itself has been dropping steadily.
The latest Kindle retails for a mere $114 and despite the fact that it carries on screen ads, Amazon claims it’s now the best selling device in the American Kindle family. And as long as you own a Kindle, Amazon has cleverly made its e-books available on pretty much any electronic device you have, be it an iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, PC or Android to name just a few. Not only that, it synchs to your last page, no matter the device you last used. Amazon also announced in April that Kindle readers will soon join the ranks of other e-readers and be able to borrow books from 11,000 libraries across the U.S.
I have to say, despite the fact that I’m a dyed in the wool book lover, I do love my Kindle. The ease of transporting it, the ability to adjust the font size when I take off my glasses, the fact that I don’t even have to have it with me and can read on my iPhone on a whim, has me smitten. But it also has me wondering. What’s next? Will the digital domination of media ever end?
Photo courtesy of Annie Mole via Flickr