Long before we had the Kindle to play with, Amazon was still making a big impression in book sales. They got started over 15 years ago now and in that time managed to become the number one destination for anybody wanting to pick up reading material. This in itself is an amazing achievement for any company. Then, 4 years back, they introduced the Kindle. A good situation got better. In these four years, Amazon has brought the eBook from a fad to a point where sales of electronic texts exceed those of print books in their entirety.
That’s right, it finally happened. Since April 1st, Amazon’s Kindle Store has sold 105 Kindle eBooks for every 100 print books they have sold in any format. We knew it was going to happen eventually, of course. First they outsold hardcovers last July, then paperbacks six months later, and now this. The speed of the progression is as impressive as the accomplishment itself.
To put this in the proper perspective, a couple things need to be kept in mind. For one, all of these milestones I mention were factoring in only paid sales. The free editions that tend to be the first selection of the new Kindle owner were left out for obvious reasons or else this probably would have happened a while back. Really, how many people make their way through all their free downloads though?
Also, given the timing, this clearly came prior to and had nothing to do with the introduction of the discounted, ad-supported Kindle w/ Special Offers. This means that you can’t consider this more widely appealing Kindle offering to be part of the trend when Amazon lets us know that their 2011 Kindle Edition sales to date have been more than three times those of 2010. When you consider than in about a month the Kindle w/ Special Offers has become the best selling member of the Kindle family by far, the trend seems poised to continue.
The Kindle Store is now home to over 950,000 titles, including 109 of 111 current NYT Best Sellers. The vast majority of these titles are priced under $9.99, including the aforementioned Best Sellers. Again, these numbers don’t even try to factor in the millions of titles that are available for free due to expired copyrights or the many books available through other sources that can be used on the Kindle. On top of this, new titles are being added all the time including many from Amazon’s successful self-publishing platform. Over 175,000 books have been added to the store in 2011 alone.
We’ve known for a long time that the eBook was on the rise. It was only a matter of time before it became the dominant format. While this is only citing the success of one retailer, Amazon is leading the way. They have localized stores in multiple countries, are steadily expanding, and continue to distribute the most popular eReader on the market in spite of steadily increasing competition from tablets and competing eReaders. Even without the upcoming Kindle Tablets, the Kindle is demonstrating an ability to keep up the momentum.