Kindle e-books now completely outsell hardcover and paperback copies combined.Amazon announced a bellwether moment for electronic books today -
We are not going to sit here and say anything foolish like "the paper book is dead." It most certainly is not. Since April 1, 2011, for every 100 paper books that have been sold on Amazon.com, there have been 105 Kindle books sold, Amazon says. It is not like the e-book has killed the paper book and it probably never will. But, e-books are growing and Amazon's simple formula is driving the pace. Device ubiquity plus low prices and popular content equals: one killer platform steamrolling the competition.
Of the 950,000 books in Amazon's library, 790,000 of them are $9.99 or less. Price and volume have always been a part of Amazon's success. Kindle and e-books sales have certainly benefitted from this. If the success of Amanda Hocking is any indication, books in the $0.99 to $2.99 range are particularly popular. Yet, price is a driving point for mainstream titles as well as 69 books from the New York Times Best Seller list are $9.99 or less as well.
If this announcement seems familiar, it kind of is. Amazon always announces how well Kindle books are doing compared to physical books. In January 2010, the Kindle-to-paper book ratio was six e-books for every 10 physical books. In July 2010, Kindle books outpaced hardcover books. In October, Kindle bestsellers outsold print bestsellers two to one. Now, for the first time, all combined Kindle sales are better than print. What else is left to announce?
Well, there is also this: Amazon's newest offer in the Kindle family, the ad-support "Kindle with Special Offers" is already the best selling version of the e-reader, according to company. At $114, it is hard to beat.
Imagine Amazon taking its pricing and product formula into higher end devices. Amazon Android tablets are coming this year, there is little doubt about that anymore. It is a tricky landscape to enter. Amazon needs to make the user experience work on Android tablets in ways that the early entrants in the Honeycomb wars have not and sell it at a price point attractive to consumers.
Yet with Kindle books doing as well as they are, it is imaginable that Amazon can subsidize the margins on the hardware with book sales and perhaps even an ad-supported tablet like the new Kindle. It is interesting to watch the development and Amazon has done well for itself. It was one of the original huge Internet companies and it continues to dominate because it invests heavily in innovation and product strategy. Kindle and e-books are but a piece of a puzzle.