Earlier today, Amazon announced pretty significant numbers that illustrate the rising popularity of e-books. For the first time in their short history, they are outselling their hardcover brethren at the bookstore giant.
For the second quarter of 2010, Amazon sold an impressive 143 e-books for every 100 hardcover copies. Change that number to 180 for the last month alone. Overall, total e-book sales increased three-fold over last years sales during the first two quarters.
Amazon only represents a portion of the print and digital markets, of course, the latter of which relies in part on the success of the Kindle. They lowered the price back in June and sales have tripled since then. Still, one need not own a Kindle to be a part of the e-book feeding frenzy. Portability is the wonderful thing about buying your e-books through Amazon. You can access the files remotely, and view them in the Kindle e-reader software that is available for the nearly all smartphones on the market (iPhone, Blackberry, Android devices), and on Mac or PC computers.
Hardcovers still hover above $20, but the typical Kindle book (over 80% of them), are priced $9.99 or less. Even with a lower price, lack of overhead for distributing the books, i.e., printing, packaging, shipping, and stocking, leaves plenty of room for profit.
Amazon has undeniably succeeded with the Kindle device and store. We are talking about 630,000 books for sale, and nearly two million free titles that are part of the public domain. In reality, these numbers represent a pittance of the overall book market. Publisher's Weekly estimates the total book market earned $35 billion in 2009, accounting for all print, audio, and digital, books. Only $81 million of that came from e-books. The single day of e-book domination last December was a precursor to the current trend in sales, and Amazon’s ascension to leader of the digital pack. The Kindle became the most gifted item ever on Amazon last Christmas, but customers will have more options of e-book providers and readers this holiday season, so expect some aggressive marketing and pricing from all parties towards the end of the year.