How Amazon Kindle Sales Surpassed Hardcover Books

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Amazon announced Monday that, over the past three months, Kindle book sales outnumbered those of hardcover books for the first time in the company's history. The announcement comes less than a month after the company slashed the price of its flagship e-book reader from $259 to $189 amidst growing competition from Apple's iPad. So far, the move seems to have paid off--Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Kindle sales have tripled since the price cut. Here's what voices from around the web had to say on the new numbers:

  • A Widening Gap  MG Siegler of TechCrunch says Amazon's numbers speak for themselves

"In the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books sold, has sold 143 Kindle books, they say. And that gap is getting wider. In the past month, for every 100 hardcover books sold, there have been 180 Kindle books sold through Amazon. This is across Amazon’s entire U.S. book business and even includes hardcovers that have no Kindle version. Plus, free Kindle books are not included, or the numbers would be even higher."

  • End of an Era?  The numbers are impressive, concedes Deadline's Mike Fleming, but e-books are hurting readers more than they realize. "My biggest problem--and the reason I'll always stick to print books" writes Fleming, "is that I think the entire experience of reading a books is cheapened by technology, same as it was in music." Fleming fears the e-book revolution means the end of "the ritual experience of buying a book, appreciating its distinctive smell and formative heft, earning the way to the end, page by page, and then displaying the best ones like trophies on a shelf."

  • Big Authors, Big Sales  The fact that readers have followed their favorite authors to the device is a testament to the device's convenience and economy, notes Sarah Weinman of Daily Finance:

"Amazon also shared some concrete data about the country's biggest selling authors, although the information is limited in scope. Last week, for example, Hachette Book Group announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date worldwide. Amazon said Kindle books account for 867,881 of those sales, while four other blockbuster authors -- Nora Roberts, Stieg Larsson, Charlaine Harris, and Stephenie Meyer -- have also sold more than half a million Kindle books each."

  • The Price Question  The Atlantic's Megan McArdle wonders how these new numbers will affect pricing on Kindle going forward. "[T]he big question is whether prices will settle closer to the hardback or the paperback level," writes McArdle. "I'd guess much closer to paperback--in fact, the 'excess' profit may disappear entirely."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.