updated 04:55 pm EST, Thu January 27, 2011
Kindle books outsell paperbacks ahead of schedule
Amazon today provided a surprise and said it it had reached its goal of e-books outselling paperbacks ahead of time. It hadn't expected the milestone until the spring but, in its holiday rush, saw 115 Kindle e-books move for every 100 paperbacks sold from Amazon's online shop. Attempts to keep a competitive secret remained in place as Amazon wouldn't say how many Kindle e-readers were sold other than "millions."
The achievement isn't quite an absolute milestone as digital books aren't yet outselling both hardcovers and paperbacks combined. Kindle e-books also make up just a portion of the total book market and, combined with rivals, shouldn't yet eclipse paper books as a whole in any country.
Unofficial estimates have put the Kindle at 41.5 percent of the e-reader market as of the summer and possibly more in the fall through the usual holiday spike. Barnes & Noble, Pandigital and others have usually had just a fraction of the same sales and aren't usually at risk of outselling their paper stores where they exist.
The breakthrough came on a mixed note for Amazon, whose sales were up 36 percent compared to a year ago but didn't meet expectations of analysts who saw it bouncing back further from the slump late last year.