Already Impressive Kindle Singles Lands Vonnegut Exclusive

What began as seemingly little more than an experiment to test whether or not there was a market for intermediate length written works, Amazon’s Kindle Singles program, has succeeded beyond all expectations.  To highlight this fact, they have made a rare exception to the usual policy of never releasing sales numbers to reveal that the 2-millionth sale of a Kindle Single had been made.  Estimates put the company’s revenue from the program at over $1,200,000 in the 14 months since the program launched.

Unlike the larger Kindle Direct Publishing program, Kindle Singles are highly selective and can be extremely difficult to create.  If accepted, however, they tend to be almost guaranteed successes.  Those millions of sales were divided up among fewer than 200 short works.  Considering that this is a form that had completely gone out of fashion and that many felt was at best of marginal interest, it is an amazing accomplishment for Amazon to have come so far with them.

Now things are getting even better, thanks to an exclusive deal with Rosetta Books.  They have arranged for the Kindle Singles program to have exclusive access to a never before published piece by Kurt Vonnegut.  Written in the 1940s, Basic Training is about 20,000 words and was intended to be published under the pseudonym Mark Harvey.  It is a very early work by the author and while likely rejected for a reason at the time it was submitted, hence the never before published status, will be quite interesting for any Vonnegut fan.

In a way this demonstrates how effective it is to have quality control factors involved in determining available selections.  The average title in the Singles program is obviously doing better than the average KDP eBook.  Potential readers know in advance that the whole library of Singles has been screened and approved, which removes some of the uncertainty that has plagued the eBook publishing scene for a while now.  Nobody runs the risk of picking up what looks to be a good book and turns out to be nothing but a five page advertisement for questionable internet pharmaceutical sales sites.

On the other hand, because this is such a narrowly defined category of books, the Kindle Singles do hold a certain special place that might make their example a poor one in terms of wider applicability.  Much of Amazon’s success in the realm of digital publishing is coming as a result of offering any aspiring author to get their work out there in hopes that it can stand on its own merits even without the endorsement of a major publisher.  If they were to seriously undertake gate keeping duties for the Kindle, it would undermine that aspect of the business.

No matter how you personally view the situation, it is safe to say that this is positive information for those who find the quicker, more concise offerings of the Kindle Singles shop enjoyable.  Sometimes it is just nice to be able to read this sort of work without unnecessary cutting or padding to fit more familiar forms.

Check out Basic Training now for $1.99, only at Amazon

Amazon Kindle Now Sells More Books Than Print

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.

Kindle Books Hit New Milestone: Beating Out Paperbacks

So, as I recall it was last summer when Kindle books began beating out purchases of Hardcovers on the Amazon site.  This was a big deal because it illustrated for people that eBooks were pretty clearly here to stay in a way that previous announcements of numbers (not that Amazon was the company making any involving numbers) and vague statements about the future of the industry couldn’t do.  Now, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has issued a release announcing that in addition to achieving their first ever $10 Billion quarter, Kindle books are now outselling paperbacks by a fair amount.

Specifically, there are 115 Kindle Editions going out for every 100 paperbacks.  There’s really no way to significantly top that as a milestone, that I can think of.  From here on out, it’s all going to be iterations of the same.  “Twice as many as paperbacks” and that sort of thing.  A similar bit of info was put into the press release to tell us that over the same period as that being measures for that comparison with paperbacks, Kindle books outsold hardcovers by a factor of three.  So, yeah.  Big year.

Now, Amazon has a reputation for only giving us rather fuzzy numbers when it comes to anything having to do with the Kindle.  We know that Kindle device sales numbers for the most recent generation are in the millions, but no more than that other than that they’re a bigger seller than the ever popular Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Nice to have some sort of reference point, of course, but hardly anything you can do specific analysis with.

Overall, good news, but it’s hard to say how good.  We know that Kindle sales, and therefore almost certainly Kindle book sales, are up.  The apps that they release for practically every possible platform with a screen, portable or otherwise, are ever more available and easy to use.  This is good news for Kindle Edition sales as well.  The only thing that we’re vague on right now is how good.  No word if part of it involves a decline in paperback sales, or if half the sales for the year were immediately post-Christmas.  There’s simply no way to determine if there was something huge making this possible.  Was it, however unlikely, the announcement of Kindle for Windows Mobile 7 that put sales over the edge?  The world may never know…

Regardless, some other points of fun information were included as well.  There are now over 810,000 Kindle Editions for sale through the Kindle Store(and that excludes all free books, since that would bring it up into the millions).  Of those books, over 670,000 are available for under $10. While I would love to have solid numbers on the Under $5 range, that’s still encouraging.  Wider acceptance means better selection and hopefully more opportunities for readers.  Maybe next year, Amazon won’t have any reason to point out that their sales number comparison didn’t exclude books with no Kindle Edition counterpart because that will be so rare as to not be an issue.  Ok, yeah, that one’s probably a good way off yet, but it’ll be nice when we do see it.