Amazon: Kindle titles outpacing hardcovers

There are now more e-books sold by Amazon.com than hardcover titles, and the discrepancy is growing bigger, CEO Jeff Bezos announces.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
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Caroline McCarthy
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The Amazon.com Kindle e-reader and bookstore have reached a "tipping point," the company said Monday, with Kindle titles outselling hardcover books on the massive online marketplace for the first time.

"We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle--the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in an announcement release, referring to last month's price drop for the device. "In addition, even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. Amazon.com customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books--astonishing, when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years and Kindle books for 33 months."

And Kindle titles continue to outpace hardcovers, statistics from Amazon showed. In the past three months, 143 Kindle books were sold for every 100 hardcovers, but when that time frame is narrowed to a month, it's 180 Kindle books for every 100 hardcovers. Total e-book sales tripled from the first half of 2009 to the first half of 2010.

This comes despite months' worth of claims of naysayers who speculated that Apple's sophisticated iPad might render obsolete e-readers like the Kindle. But with prices higher in Apple's iBooks store than for many Kindle titles, and a Kindle app available for both the iPad and iPhone, the supposed death of the Kindle seems far less imminent. Some have even surmised that the discrepancies between the devices may play to Amazon's hand rather than Apple's.

Amazon is slated to announce its second-quarter earnings on Thursday, and analysts are speculating that it'll post an extremely strong quarter.