The Kindle is holding its ground against the iPad according to recent sales figures that reveal that Kindle books outsell hardbacks. But is it really this simple?
Amazon still hasn't relesaed figures on what the actual sales numbers of the Kindle ebook reader are, but it claims that sales have accelerated each month in the second quater of 2010. Which even if you suspect that the figures might not be impressive as iPad sales means that the iPad hasn't had the devastating effect on ebooks as initially predicted. Kindle price cuts and the new DX reader, combined with the improved 2.5 software and perhaps even the prospect of third part apps, might be responsible for its resiliance but it is more likely to be Amazon's abilities as an ebook marketplace.
Apple's iPad has access to tens of thousands of titles whereas Amazon offers 630,000 titles, 510,000 of which are priced at or under $9.99. Amazon is driving the market to cheaper ebooks.
Perhaps a more convincing sign that ebooks, and Kindle ebooks in particular are making inroads into the traditional dead-tree book sales is that for the first time Amazon reports that Kindle books now outsell hardback editions 2 to 1.
Amazon also points out that hardback sales have been growing and this statistic is even more impressive when you compare the 15 years Amazon has been selling hardbacks to the 33 months it has been selling Kindle ebooks. You also have to take into account that hardback books are probably a niche format bought by people who are as comitted to books and reading as Kindle owners - it's one niche market compared to another.
Althought Amazon hasn't released any hard figures for Kindle sales you can get some idea of the numbers from the statistic that the latest James Patterson paperback has sold 1.14 million ebooks of which 76% were specifically Kindle ebooks.
Kindle books are also growing in popularity. Amazon claims that it sold three times as many Kindle books in the first half of 2010 as in the same period in 2009 and popular paperback sales amount to over half a million Kindle books.
Of course the whole point of releasing this news is to indicate that iPad isn't making inroads into Kindle teritory but why doesn't Amazon simply say how many Kindles have been sold? Perhaps because it hasn't equalled the estimated 4 million iPads that Apple has sold. Of course there is also the small fact that there is a free Kindle reader app for the iPad so some of the ebook sales could be from iPad users.
To a certain extent this isn't so much about hardware, it's not even about software - it's about marketing ebooks.
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