I haven’t mentioned Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader because it had seemed like a nonstarter, but Josh Quittner at Time reports some surprising sales statistics:
According to a source at Amazon, "on a title-by-title basis, of the 130,000 titles available on Kindle and in physical form, Kindle sales now make up over 12% of sales for those titles." Amazon is notoriously tight lipped about sales data, and the new line of business that the Kindle represents for the online retail powerhouse has been especially frustrating for analysts and media to parse. At a technology trade conference in May, CEO Jeff Bezos said that Kindle sales accounted for 6% of book titles sold for the Kindle and in print. So Amazon appears to be selling more e-books.
Since we’re dealing with percentages rather than unit sales, it’s impossible to say whether we’re talking about a ton of books, or a modest number. But it’s fairly certain that, given the enormous number of new books that Amazon sells, and the fact that many if not most are also simultaneously released as Kindle e-books, we’re talking about a good sign for Amazon.
Explanations for the upsurge abound, including short supply when the Kindle was first announced and growing familiarity with the unit by consumers.
I guess I will have to give it a look although my initial reservation was that there was not as much of a discount for electronic books as I thought there should be. However, checking the prices of Kindle books, I see that (irrespective of special sales) they are running at about equal to or slightly higher than a new paperback and thereby much lower than hard covers. I still think there is room for improvement, but it’s clearly in the ballpark.