Amazon began as an online bookstore, selling hardcovers and paperbacks in July 1995. It boldly announced itself as, “the world’s largest bookstore,” since it could offer virtually an unlimited number of titles, far more than any brick and mortar store. The claim led Barnes&Noble to file suit over semantics, but that’s another story.
In November 2007, Amazon debuted the Kindle and began to sell ebooks. Many insiders watching the developments, both publishers and readers alike, thought ebooks were just a fad or even a joke, some sort of impurity of the written word they refused to endorse, and they resoundingly responded the idea would never work.
In less than three years, July 2010, Kindle ebook sales had surpassed hardcover sales. Another six months later, Kindle ebooks sales moved beyond paperbacks to become the most popular selling format on Amazon.
And now, about four years since the Kindle debut, Amazon readers buy more Kindle ebooks than paperbacks and hardcovers combined. Print is not necessarily dying, but it appears to be destined to a new role, second-fiddle to e-ink. To those who still think ebooks are just a fad; wake up and get over your dislike of technology. It’s about the words and the message, not the medium for delivery.
“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 fifteen years and Kindle books for less than four years,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com. Since April 1 of 2011, for every 100 print books Amazon has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle ebooks. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle ebooks are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.
Skeptics (they’re always around) will point out many ebooks are selling for 99 cents and skewing the results. Well, what’s the problem with that? Cheaper books mean more availability to everyone. Reading is a good thing, right?
What do you think?