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I’m not big on terms like “tipping point” but it’s a moment worth noting: Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is selling more e-books on Amazon.com than print or hardback combined, a marker that probably could have been hit much sooner if its digital books could be read outside the Kindle platform. Then again, if that were the case, Amazon might not also be talking up the success of its $114 ad-supported Kindle, now the best-selling of the homegrown e-readers.
The total covers all books sold (not free Kindle books) through Amazon.com to any customer, including those shopping outside the U.S., but does not include sales through Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de.
It took Amazon less than four years from the launch of Kindle in November 2007 to reach this point, a moment of much glee for CEO Jeff Bezos. In his statement, Bezos said: “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.”
Amazon is big on releasing big aggregate numbers and very tight on the specifics that might actually tell us something about how the Kindle is doing as a business. For instance, we know it’s now offering more than 950,000 titles in the Kindle store but no idea how many actually are selling.(This has been a gauge all along for how the Kindle format is spreading in acceptance; I noticed the new number now being touted by Amazon on the tote board the other day.) We know the $114 Kindle is selling the best but not how many Kindles overall have been sold let alone how many per category.
Amazon insists the Kindle growth is not due to any slowdown in print sales. According to the company, 2011’s numbers so far in show the fastest year-over-year growth in book sales Amazon has seen in more than 10 years; that includes units and dollars and excludes free titles. The announcement comes on the eve of the
BookExpo America and should make for some interesting conversation, especially with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) as a formal presence for the first time and a new Nook in the offing.
A few other fun facts Amazon is willing to share:
— Since April 1, Amazon is selling 105 Kindle books for every 100 print books, paperback and hardback. That includes print books with no e-edition — and excludes free Kindle titles.
— The Kindle Store on Amazon.co.uk, which launched last year, now sells more Kindle books than hardcovers “even as hardcover sales continue to grow.” The ratio is more than 2 to 1 since April 1.
— More than 790,000 Kindle titles are $9.99 or less.
— More than 170,000 titles have been added this year.