Amazon: 'we're selling more Kindle books than print books'

Amazon says Kindle ebook sales have just surpassed combined hardcover and paperback purchases. Overall, about 17% of all book sales are now ebooks.

In a bellwether sign that ebooks are moving into the mainstream, Amazon has just announced that Kindle book sales have exceeded those of print books.

Amazon began selling Kindle ebooks in November 2007, and by July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales. Now, the company says, its customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books - hardcover and paperback - combined.

Since April 1, for every 100 print books has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher, Amazon says.

Overall, the share of ebook sales across the entire publishing industry, while still a small segment, has grown dramatically over the past year.

The Association of American Publishers says in March 2011 -- the most recent month for which data is available -- the ebook market grew by 146% over the previous year, totaling $69 million. This is about 17% of a total of $400 million for books of all types. A year ago, the percentage of ebook sales was eight percent.

AAP notes that print book sales also climbed a bit. As we observed in a previous post , the printed book is likely to be with us for a long time, serving as high-end quality publications. For mass consumption, the trend is moving toward reading from screens, versus paper.

Here are publishers' reported revenues by book types, March 2010-2011:

March 2011 March 2010 Pct. change
Hardcover $96.6m $91.2m +6.0%
Paperback $115.9m $125.6m -7.7%
Mass market $55.2m $54.5m +1.2%
Ebooks $69.0m $28.1m +145.7%
Religious books
$63.5m $49.8m +27.4%
University press hardcover $4.4m $4.5m -1.9%
University press paperback $2.6m $2.5m +7.1%

Source: Association of American Publishers

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