Amazon Sells More E-books Than Paper Books

by Jordan Richardson on May 20, 2011

It had to happen sooner or later. announced on Thursday that it was now selling more digital e-books than traditional paper books, sending trees into fits of joy and purists into maddening “what’s this world coming to” fits.

“We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of in a statement.

Amazon doesn’t reveal exact sales figures on Kindles or e-books in general, but it says that since April 1 they’ve sold 105 e-books for every 100 books in print. This excludes free downloads, but it includes both hardcovers and paperbacks.

It’s not known if the same statistical balance is reflective of their Canadian site or of other international sites.

Obviously Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is, at least partly, to thank or blame for this rise in digital reading. Launched in 2007, the Kindle has been blowing away both the Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple’s iPad in the e-book sales category. The site has sold print books for 15 years but has only been moving e-books for four, so it’s quite a boon for the company thus far. The disparity will probably only grow wider are more advances to e-book readers are introduced.

Last month, Amazon offered its Kindle for $114. The prices certainly must have a lot to do with the device’s popularity, but the wide swath of other potential e-readers that Amazon’s selection can be experienced on helps too. Consider that e-books from Amazon can be read on almost any technological from almost any tech company and you’ve got a wide range of compatibility to work with.

While some in the industry oppose the encroachment of e-books and e-readers on what used to be sacred ground for print products, many are clearly embracing the technology.

From a publication standpoint, costs are down and more exposure is possible. From a writer’s standpoint, the level of accessibility that a piece of work can get from an e-book platform is tremendous. Instead of a death knell for the world of publishing books, e-readers and e-books can represent new beginnings and uncharted territory.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel Moore May 20, 2011 at 10:47 am

It’s a shame that people are so easy to discard paper, yes it is more enviromentally friendly but it is less of a strain on your eyes for a start I work at a computer 8 hours a day and when I go home sometimes I like to read I don’t really want to be looking at another screen.

Jordan Richardson May 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Hi Daniel,

I’m not convinced that print books are going anywhere and I’m not convinced that looking at screens strains the ciliary muscle any more than looking at books. It’s all in the focus. Using improper lighting can cause eye strain as well. The solution is proper rest to the eye whether you’re reading from a computer or a book.

I get that you don’t want to be looking at another screen when you get home, though. I don’t either, which is why I generally read books. I don’t think books will be going out of production entirely, but I can see a scenario where books are perhaps printed to order or more customized for customer requests.

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