Updating Kindles sold estimate: 1.49 million

Updating Kindles sold estimate: 1.49 million

Summary: Based on the ever-vague guidance provided by Amazon.com in the form of obscure comments from CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos and fluffy PR releases, such as today's holiday sales update, I'm continuing to update my educated guesswork on the number of Kindles sold.


Based on the ever-vague guidance provided by Amazon.com in the form of obscure comments from CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos and fluffy PR releases, such as today's holiday sales update, I'm continuing to update my educated guesswork on the number of Kindles sold.

Two interesting factoids emerge from the marketing verbiage: First, Kindle books outsold paper books on Christmas Day, the first time that has ever happened; Second, the Kindle is the "most gifted item ever in our history," according to Bezos. The first may not mean much, since Christmas Day isn't necessarily a normal shopping day, though the volume of Kindle books sold suggests that on that day a lot of new Kindle users started stocking up on e-books. The second, an aggregate figure that appears to reflect all gifted items over all time, may be very significant or mean absolutely nothing at all, as the increase in online shopping and gifting continues to dwarf previous "record-setting" gift sales by the law of large(r) numbers.

Nevertheless, it is clear that this was the Kindle Christmas. During the third quarter of 2009, I estimated that Amazon sold 289,000 Kindles on sales growth of 60 percent year over year. We can assume, given the disappointing availability of most competitors, that Kindle grabbed a very large percentage of e-book reader sales this holiday season. However, it was also a poor Christmas overall, in terms of retails sales, even if Amazon did sell more stuff than ever before.

So, how many more Kindles sold between the end of the Q3 and Christmas Day? Extrapolating from previous quarters, and assuming this was a break-out sales season for Kindle, meaning that it more that doubled over the previous quarter, factoring in the sales of Kindle books versus paper books as Christmas gift cards were redeemed yesterday, I estimate Amazon sold 419,000 Kindles in the fourth quarter, or 145 percent of the sales in Q3.

That would make the total number of Kindles sold to date 1,491,000. Kindle now represents approximately 65 percent of the hardware reader market despite the appearance of Barnes & Noble's Nook, which may reach 30,000 units in the quarter because of delays.

I still don't think Amazon is in the hardware business for the long term. It's all about building digital library lock-in.

Cross-posted to BooksAhead.com.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Amazon, Hardware

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  • Digital library lock-in

    Which is one of the main reasons I will NEVER buy one.
  • Kindle ....

    I was thinking about giving my uncle a Kindle for X-Mas ...

    Then I took a look at the cost of the books and came up with the conclusion that a regular book (about the same cost) was better. Why:
    #1- Amazon can ERASE a legally purchased book when ever they want.
    #2- If the Kindle is defective, the replacement will not play the legally purchased books.
    #3- If the format tanks ... you don't have a book.
    #4- Can't lend the book to others without giving them the Kindle.
    #5- Although you paid almost the same amount as the printed book, you can't donate it to the local library or a literacy club.

    So I came up to the conclusion that the Kindle is a BAD investment. Sure it sounds cool ... but in the end is its nothing but paying an expensive tax where you loose the rights to read what you legally purchase and paid.
    • "a BAD investment"

      I think they need to put a disclaimer on:
      "Books are to be purchased for the enjoyment of the reader and should not be purchased for investment purposes".

      Books may have some sentimental value, and a rare few may achieve "collectible" status, but the VAST majority either get recycled or become landfill. In fact, I read that 50% of book printed in the UK wind up landfill or pulp without ever being sold.

      The value of books is in the reading. The Kindle is now just one of many ways to "enjoy" reading.
      • You can't read a book that becomes unreadable

        Did you read your own post???

        So we are supposed to sacrifice 50% of the books just to enjoy the lack of freedom of the Kindle?

        Books aren't an investment?? Guess what? When you are buying a book to read, you are investing on your pleasure. And what about passing that pleasure to others?? How many people donate books to libraries or pass it to other family members and friends when done??
        Can you do that with a Kindle book?

        My logic may not be perfect .... but your is just plain dumb.
        • You don't have to play if you don't want to

          When ebooks satisfy your price and feature point you will be along. Books are information to be consumed, as one starts to look at them less as things to be possessed the true benefit of ebooks becomes apparent. True, immediate access to the entire worlds literature, it hasn't been fully realized, but it will. Wait or buy now, doesn't matter, the benefits are there to be realized, the change already well underway. Yes there are downsides to contend with, as has happened and is happening with every format change I've seen in my lifetime, the same calls to rally around the old format, it didn't matter then and it won't now. Barnes & Noble (and the like) will switch quickly or become the next Blockbuster.

          The financial benefits will come, already independent authors are boasting on Amazon how they can sell 10x as many ebooks at a dollar than the dead tree books. Is the value of an authors books how many pennies he/she makes per book or how many minds are touched by that book? Go to Kindles web site and look at their best sellers, 9 out of the top 10 books sold are FREE, more free books available than the average person could read in a lifetime. You could buy a Kindle and literally never need to buy another book, you could do this with a PC as well or any competitors ebook reader. If you can get a wealth of literature for free or pennies compared to dead tree book does it still matter that you can no longer "give" them away?

          Maybe I am a little biased by what happened in the last 10 years in my own industry (radiology BTW). Yes, 6 years ago we made the transition from film to digital and I saw all the same arguments "We know film, film is reliable, film can be touched, our patients can touch it, our workflow depends upon in, how will I ever adjust to "digital"" Now a mere 6 years later film is looked at as an archaic relic, the only doctors who use it are those who have refused to make the financial commitment to changing over, those who have won't look back. I've had doctors, who formerly were very distrustful of digital, tell me they will quit or retire before going back to film. It will be the same with ebooks I am 100% convinced. The readers will get better and cheaper, the authors will drop their prices as the overhead costs formerly associated with DTB plummet to zero. 10 years from now we will look back at this time and wonder what the hubbub was all about.