Will Kindle Sales Triple in 2011?

My jaw dropped open. The world’s 10th-largest banking and finance company studied the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle. And then their analyst (Doug Anmuth of Barclays) predicted that the number of new Kindles sold will be nearly triple by the end of 2011!

“Our numbers may be conservative,” he reported, calculating that Amazon has already sold 7.1 million more Kindles in just 2010. Yet for 2011, he predicts they’ll sell another 12.3 million, earning Amazon another $7 billion, and forming a whopping 11% of Amazon’s total earnings for the year! Meanwhile, other researchers are also predicting that demand for digital readers will explode. IDC expects 14.7 million readers will be sold in 2011, up 36% from last year’s sales of just 10.8 million.

And it won’t end there! IDC expects that there’ll be even more Kindles sold in 2012. Though there’ll be at least 25 million digital readers in the world by that point, they’re predicting that another 16.6 million more will be sold in 2012. By that point the prices should be even cheaper, due to competition among the different vendors — and there should be a lot more content that’s available on the Kindle and other devices! (And that’s even before you consider the possibility of new color-screen devices, finally available at a price that makes people want to purchase them…)

I’ve asked myself if the “ebook revolution” is real, but apparently many business professionals are already convinced. An analyst at The Motley Fool wrote Tuesday that “The Kindle could be to books what the Gutenberg press was to printing,” predicting that Amazon will continue to gain market share, as the people who buy books start to gravitate towards the world of ebooks. And that’s got to be good for Amazon’s business model, because “There are no inventory, warehousing, or shipping costs.” Their profit margins should increase because they’re selling a virtual ebook — rather than paying to warehouse and then eventually transport an actual physical book.

But perhaps my favorite analysis came from my friend Richard, who took his new digital reader with him on a trip to Seattle. Yes, he walked into a Borders bookstore, and browsed around until he’d found a book that he wanted. But then he immediately downloaded a digital copy to his reader, and just read it as an ebook during his flight. My conclusion? Bookstores may be in trouble. His conclusion?

“We live in interesting times!”

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