Monday, July 19, 2010

Amazon: More Kindle books than hardcovers

This is an interesting story that makes the ongoing media transition a bit more concrete. Quoting the article:

The Kindle e-reader and bookstore have reached a "tipping point," the company said Monday, with Kindle titles outselling hardcover books on the massive online marketplace for the first time.

"We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle--the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in an announcement release, referring to last month's price drop for the device. "In addition, even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books--astonishing, when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years and Kindle books for 33 months."

This may not be surprising given what Amazon has invested in the Kindle and may be biased by Amazon's patron demographics, but it is interesting nonetheless.


Peter B. said...

The speed of moving from paper to electronic books is remarkable (although Amazon's announcement is still a surprise). For everyone who started to read books digitally, the trend is clear. There are many issues associated with this move that LIS programs have to consider. It's not just the technical libraries are moving all to PDF, fiction and everything else follows. So, what's the future of libraries? How we can prepare our students to that?

And, of course, this move opens many new research opportunities. BTW, together with colleagues from Microsoft research, I am co-organizing a workshop on this topic at CIKM 2010:

Richard J. Cox said...

The proliferation of e-books does not mean that printed books are dead; in fact, if we have learned anything about previous technologies like this, it is that the digital book and print book will exist side by side for decades, if not forever. The way to prepare our students for the future is to ground them in the history of libraries and printing, in order to understand the nature of this phenomenon. It is easy to misread what we are presently witnessing without a good contextual knowledge of the role of libraries and book. Libraries are not just about books; they are important community and symbol entities.

Martin Weiss said...

I agree, Richard. Still this marks a kind of milestone, though it remains to be seen whether it is sustainable.

I think, though, that this is as clear a message to libraries about how they respond to this trend. the DRM on eBooks probably forecloses the traditional lending model of libraries. Providing integrated support for readers -- eg. sharing annotations and discussions -- are an obvious role.

I, for one, think that present day eBook readers still lack the features to make them truly compelling. In addition, I think the DRM restrictions are draconian. I like to share some of my books with my wife, for example, which is often not possible. For these reasons, I remain eReader free as yet.