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Amazon: Digital books outselling paper books

For the first time, Amazon has reported that it is selling more e-books than paper books. And that’s not just hardcover books; it includes the more popular paperback category as well.

In January, Amazon sold 115 Kindle books for every 100 paper books. Although that appears to be a slim margin, an analysis of the numbers underlines the strength of the e-book market. The data includes the sales of paper books where there is no equivalent Kindle edition, and it excludes downloads of free Kindle books.

The surge in Kindle book buying has been fueled by record sales of its Kindle e-reader. But that’s not the only reason. Kindle books can now be read on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, as well as on PCs, Macs, and millions of Android devices. In fact, the decision to open up Kindle e-books to other digital platforms may turn out to be the shrewdest of Amazon’s many smart moves in leading the growth of the digital book industry.

Amazon now says it has 810,000 books in the Kindle store, and that doesn’t include hundreds of thousands of free, out-of-copyright books that are also available in digital format. Clearly the lower price point of Kindle books has a lot to do with the increased sales. Of the 810,000 books with a price tag, over 80% are $9.99 or less, including 74 out of 112 New York Times bestsellers.

None of this bodes well for the brick-and-mortar bookstores, which are already under pressure from their online counterparts. Borders CEO Mike Edwards didn’t rule out bankruptcy when he discussed the company’s restructuring efforts earlier this week, and Barnes & Noble recently laid off much of its buying staff in an effort to “better align our resources with our business.”

Although some observers believe that there may still be a place for the small independent bookseller, nobody is making any bets. Fresh in everyone’s mind is the impact of iTunes on the independent music store.

Can the small bookstore survive the e-book revolution? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

Comment by Robyn Wright of RobynsOnlineWorld.com, posted 1/29/2011, 12:30 AM:

I would like to know the number of free digital books those statistics include also. I think if you take out free the numbers will change dramatically back in favor of real books.
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