If Bloomsbury’s blossoming ebook sales weren’t convincing enough, Amazon recently reported that it’s now selling more Kindle books than print books, which is a pretty mean feat considering it’s the top online store for print books.

Since the start of April Amazon has sold 105 Kindle books for every 100 print books, so that’s a big wakeup call for writers and publishers everywhere. This does not include free Kindle books, which would make the figure even higher. The figure is even bigger when it comes to UK customers and hardcovers – for every Brit that buys a hardcover book there are two who buy Kindle books instead. That’s not bad going considering the UK Kindle store is less than a year old, although we have to factor in that hardcover books don’t sell as well as paperbacks due to their increased price.

2011 has proven to be the turning point in the ebook industry, with Amazon selling three times the Kindle books over the last few months compared to the same time last year. This has made 2011 the strongest performing year for Amazon in over 10 years, banishing fears that the book market is going downhill.

Of course, a lot of people still buy their books in regular brick and mortar shops, so we cannot ignore the traditional medium, but when it comes to online sales, it seems ebooks are just as important as print copies.

Categories: Publishing


Andrew Marx · June 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Interesting that there still isn’t a convenient storefront built to accommodate multiple formats for ebooks for authors and publishers to sell their products. Google editions claims to have the ability to offer multiple formats for publishers, but it’s amazingly user unfriendly. This seems like an unmet market for writers who only want to publish in digital format.

Dean · June 2, 2011 at 5:28 pm

True, there’s a lot to be desired in the digital format market. We need a universal ebook vendor that caters for all digital formats, and Amazon should have been that, but obviously it’s pushing its own Kindle format over anything else.

The problem with Google’s eBookstore is that it only stocks free titles currently and doesn’t support a multitude of formats, so it’s a long way away from being the jack of all trades for the ebook industry. If it secures some big deals with publishers, however, all of that could change.

Jason · June 3, 2011 at 12:42 am

Have you seen the site Smashwords? It’s a site for indie ebooks, and makes multiple formats available. I just bought a book there, so I could have access to an epub format (to try in iBooks) as well as a formatted PDF, all DRM-free. Otherwise I’d have probably bought it for Kindle to read on my iPad.

I generally prefer a physical book, but am starting to buy some ebooks to save shipment costs or space in some cases.

Dean · June 3, 2011 at 12:49 am

Hey Jason,

Yeah, I recently came across Smashwords. That’s a promising site, which covers many of the big platforms. If it secured a deal with Amazon to sell Kindle titles it would be a big winner, but I don’t see that happening any time soon (if at all).

Yeah, I vastly prefer physical copies, but the lower cost of ebooks means I can test out a new author’s work to see if I want to invest in more bookcases (mine are already overflowing). I hope to get my own work into as many formats as possible to give my readers a choice. You can never have too many choices.


    Jason · June 3, 2011 at 1:10 am

    When I referred to saving space, I mean physical space — those overflowing bookshelves that you note! I try to periodically sell books back to the used bookstore, but it’s often hard to give them up. It’s not a problem with virtual books, but then we get into all the concerns that come with proprietary formats.

    Or badly formatted books. I’ve returned a couple of Kindle books with poor quality conversions. These were non-fiction books that have charts or diagrams that end up blurry and hard-to-read. I’m not sure if it’s the particular publisher’s conversion to ebook format, a limitation of the .mobi/Kindle format, or the fact that the Kindle reader app can handle better quality than the Kindle itself is limited to.

    I agree that choice is nice. I don’t think the Kindle will be going away anytime soon; and amazon.com does offer a great selection. I appreciate the format options of Smashwords though, and will keep an eye for books there in future.

      Dean · June 3, 2011 at 1:17 am

      Oh, definitely. There’s only so many books our houses can hold (though I have some friends who have more books than bricks in their houses!). I tend to keep books that I will never read or that I have read years ago, but they do take up a lot of space, which a digital library would address, without question.

      In regards to the formatting, I think each format should be individually looked over to ensure that everything is up to scratch before pushing out to a new device. A one size fits all approach doesn’t work when there’s so many different ways to view ebooks. Kindle books should read as perfectly through the Kindle app as they do on the Kindle itself. I imagine a lot of that rests with the publishers though.

      Likewise, I’ll be keeping an eye on Smashwords too 🙂


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