Kindle Books Outsell Dead-Tree Books

By  |  Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 8:45 am

First, started selling more Kindle books than hardcovers. Then Kindle tombs overtook paperbacks. And now Amazon is trumpeting a new milestone: it’s selling more Kindle books than hardcovers and paperbacks combined.

Amazon quotes founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in its press release:

Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books.  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.

I’m startled, too–as interesting as the Kindle obviously was when it shipped in November of 2007, I would have guessed that books for it would become a healthy minority of Amazon’s business within a few years, not the majority in terms of unit sales. (Then again, Amazon has marketed the Kindle far more aggressively than I would have predicted, more or less turning over its home page to Kindle promotion.)

I’m doing my part to help the company make the big transition–generally speaking, if I’m buying a book from Amazon and it’s available for the Kindle, that’s the version I get. Then again, I still buy plenty of paper books, although I try to buy them from local independent bookstores who need the dough rather than from Amazon.

And I have a few questions related to today’s landmark:

  • When will Amazon make more profit from e-books than from paper ones?
  • Will Amazon exist someday as an outfit that sells e-books but doesn’t offer print books at all?
  • When will every new print book be available in electronic form?
  • How is Barnes & Noble, who’s more dependent on books than Amazon is and whose Nook was a late-arriving answer to the Kindle, doing with e-books?
  • When will e-book sales surpass print book sales not just for Amazon, but period?

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5 Comments For This Post

  1. DeeJay Says:

    Is it possible you meant "tomes" and not "tombs" in the second sentence?

  2. samirsshah Says:

    1) They may already be doing it now, they may not be disclosing it.
    2) Yes. Is Photographic film like Kodachrome available today? If I remember correctly, Amazon was into used books, but now they exited it already, paper books will follow the same trajectory.
    3) Today.
    4) Very well. Ask Barnes and Noble. They are all smiling their way to the bank with Nook and it is not just about hardware.
    5) 2012, may be even late 2011. When is the new E Ink plant coming? Amazon may want to really cash in on 2011 holidays.

  3. The_Heraclitus Says:

    Great questions. I hope you can get the answers.

  4. Rip Says:

    At least my dead tree book won't get remotely removed from my device.

  5. mark Says:

    Is The Nook outselling like The Kindle? Both are excellent devices and they will just get better.