Some new data from Amazon.com this morning: it's now selling more Kindle ebooks than print books.
This isn't exactly shocking, as Amazon had previously announced that Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover sales and, more recently, had overtaken paperback book sales. In fact, we're not sure why the announcement didn't come earlier because you'd figure that if Kindle ebook sales had passed both hardcover and paperback sales, they would be ahead overall. But apparently not. Until now, anyway.
Here are the numbers Amazon is highlighting in its press release:
• Since 1 April, 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, [has] resulted in the fastest year-over-year growth rate for Amazon's US 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 US$114 is already the bestselling member of the Kindle family in the US.
• Amazon sold more than three times as many Kindle books so far in 2011 as it did during the same period in 2010
• Less than one year after introducing the UK Kindle Store, Amazon.co.uk is now selling more Kindle books than hardcover books, even as hardcover sales continue to grow. Since 1 April, Amazon.co.uk customers are purchasing Kindle books over hardcover books at a rate of more than two to one.
Needless to say, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was rather proud of the latest metrics.
"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," Bezos said.
The one statement worth examining a bit further is about Amazon's growth in print book sales. As print sales continue to decline significantly overall, Amazon's gain is clearly an indication that it is taking market share away from traditional and independent booksellers (and perhaps that the death knell for print titles foretold by the book world doomsayers isn't quite upon us). Borders, of course, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year and has closed about 30 per cent of its stores (around 200) as Barnes & Noble also shutters select stores around the US.