Amazon reports that Kindle ebooks are outselling paperbacks sold via its online storefront, but sales figures for the Kindle e-reader remain elusive.
In a twist that will likely have paper-loving bibliophiles screaming in
agony, Amazon.com's Kindle ebooks have apparently started outselling
paperbacks, having already surpassed hardcovers.
Amazon sold 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperbacks moved through its
online storefront, the
company reported Jan. 27
. That apparently includes sales of books without
an equivalent electronic edition, and excludes free Kindle ebooks.
"Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and
predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this
year," Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos wrote
in a Jan. 27 statement, "so this milestone has come even sooner than we
expected-and it's on top of continued growth in paperback sales."
However, Amazon remains reluctant to share any hard numbers related to the
sales of Kindle e-readers, aside from the totally unsurprising note that "millions"
of third-generation Kindle devices sold in the fourth quarter.
Research firm Gartner estimates that e-reader sales will increase 68.3
percent in 2011, to more than 11 million units.
"The connected e-reader market has grown dramatically during the past
two years, driven by sales of Amazon's e-readers, primarily in North America,"
Hugues De La Vergne, principal research analyst at Gartner, wrote in a Dec. 8
statement posted on Gartner's corporate Website
. However, "growth in
North American and other markets will remain constrained by the success of
media tablets, such as the Apple iPad."
That Gartner note saw full-color tablets such as the iPad as the greatest
threat to the e-reader market, one that some e-reader manufacturers are trying
to blunt with the introduction of color screens. Barnes & Noble's Nook
Color, as the most prominent example, includes a full-color 7-inch display,
WiFi capability, Web surfing and the ability to share selected passages from ebooks
via Facebook and Twitter.
Amazon has defiantly kept the Kindle grayscale, betting that most customers
will want a device exclusively for reading in addition to their other gizmos.
However, it faces yet another competitor in Google, which in December launched
its own eBooks storefront with some 3 million titles. Google's eBooks software
allows users to read titles on a variety of devices, including the Sony Reader,
Apple iPad and even-at least for those ebooks without digital rights
Amazon's own developing Kindle
for Web app
will allow users to purchase ebooks via a Website and read them
within the browser. That would complement existing Kindle software for iPhone,
Windows PC, Mac, BlackBerry, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7 devices.