Last week Amazon reported that they’ve reached another Kindle milestone–Kindle ebooks are now outselling paperback books. It was just a few months ago when their ebooks began outselling their hardcover cousins, and I for one am somewhat surprised with the ease at which Amazon leaped past this latest hurdle. As reported in the Telegraph:
Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said, “Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year. So this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.”
The Kindle has faced its challengers in the ebook device market, and although I’m an early adopter–and am still enjoying my 2007 first generation Kindle–I have to admit that the iPad and Nook Color look enticing. Other book lovers must think so as well, since Amazon’s ereader market share is now reduced to just over 40%. Amazon’s not fretting about this, however, as their ebook/ereader combination is a juggernaut that’s quickly bringing a centuries-old paper-based book industry into the digital age (and, some might say, many publishers to their knees). As I’ve mentioned before, during my early Lulu days I used to wager that ebooks would make it big in a couple of years, only to make the same prediction a couple years later (and with some egg on my face). Only around 2008 did we really start feeling the ground move beneath us, and now–in 2011–it’s clear that the world is forever changed in how we consume, experience, and enjoy the written word. All of this, even now, due to Amazon leading the way.
So what’s next for Amazon? Where do they go from here? Here’s one possibility, and with a clue that makes sense to me. In a recent article, Stephen Windwalker predicts that Amazon could obtain a 50% book industry market share by the end of 2012–which is not only fairly incredible in itself, but substantially more than their measly 15% share in 2007. You might get an early understanding of this possible future by just using one title–Emma Donoghue’s Room–as an example. As a starting point, Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s VP for Kindle Content, recently stated that total Kindle sales for Room are 85 percent of Neilsen Bookscan’s print sales numbers. With that, Publisher’s Marketplace then ran some additional calculations:
If the BookScan number is 80 percent of the print sales total, then Kindle sales here would 68 percent of all print. More importantly, though, to calculate what percentage of the book’s total sale was on Kindle, you need to add Kindle + BookScan + that other 20 percent together and look at Kindle as a percentage of that sum. So it’s 68 over 168, meaning that Kindle sales were 40 percent of the total sale in all formats for Room.
But that’s only part of the story. Amazon’s also saying that Kindle editions were currently outselling Amazon sales of their hardcover counterparts by a 3-to-1 margin, which leads to Amazon hardcovers equaling about 25 per cent of combined sales for these titles. Even if hardcover sales of Room fell short of this–say 20 percent–of Amazon’s combined sales, this would mean that total Amazon sales of Room constitutes about 50 percent of this particular title’s total sales in all formats.
Pretty impressive. And although Amazon’s obviously not doing this well for every title, my bet is that this is what they’re aiming for–i.e., domination of the book industry. And, knowing Amazon, they’ll get there.
What do you think? Will Amazon still remain the leader in this space, or will someone else–say, Google–challenge their dominance? Whatever happens, it’ll be fun and exciting to watch.
Give it some thought, and till next time–keep publishing!