Hardcovers vs. Kindles

Amazon, facing Wall Street’s concern about competition from the iPad (the stock is down 16% in the last three months), announced yesterday that sales of ebooks are outstripping sales of hardcovers. In the last three months, for every 100 hardcovers, Amazon sold 143 books in Kindle format. In the last month, the rate has increased to 180 ebooks to 100 hardcovers.

This is significant news, if not the “tipping point” that Amazon claims (as of May, according to the AAP, ebook sales are 8.48% of trade sales; adult hardcovers are 43.2%).

Amazon doesn’t reveal actual numbers, just comparisons, so it’s important to remember a couple of things;

Ebooks are being compared to hardcovers, but paperbacks are still the strongest sales category for Amazon

In June, Amazon lowered the price of the Kindle, tripling sales of the device. All those new Kindle owners did what anyone with a new toy does; they bought software to go with the hardware.

For information on actual sales, we have to turn to estimates. NPR’s Morning Edition quotes an analyst at Forrester Research who says there may be 6 million devices in the market right now, most of them Kindles and that by the end of the year, the total may be close to 11 million.

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