Amazon Announces an eBook Milestone

Kindle - white vs graphic (vs a stack of books)

As the Olympics thrilled London, another small piece of history also happened online. Amazon announced that their U.K. web site was now selling more ebooks for the Kindle than they were selling printed books!

It marked just the two-year anniversary of the day Amazon released the Kindle in England – and there’s some even more impressive figures. Amazon added that Kindle owners in the U.K. purchase four times as many ebooks as they did printed books. For every 100 printed books Amazon sold there, they were now selling 114 ebooks. And the figures don’t even include the sales of Amazon-published ebooks in Apple’s iBookStore or through other online booksellers. “Customers in the UK are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books,” announced Amazon’s Vice President of Kindle for Europe, “even as our print business continues to grow. As a result of the success of Kindle, we’re selling more books than ever before…”

The news has generated some headlines – but it’s really just another milestone in a bigger ongoing story. Amazon had already revealed that ebooks were outselling printed books in America more than one year ago. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced the news in a conference call with shareholders on June 7, 2011. And he’d shared the same surprising twist: an announcement that at the same time, Amazon was also selling more printed books than ever before.

I’m reminded of the schoolteacher who taught her 5th grade class with Kindles. One of the students said it had made reading cool. Instead of outdated old copies of old-fashioned books, the students could read digital texts, search them electronically, and even share their favorite highlights right on their Facebook pages. Maybe Amazon’s actually increased the world’s interest in reading itself. That could explain why Amazon’s also selling more printed books.

Jeff Bezos has a goal to create a “universal library, ” so they can always connect customers to the book they want — any book, any where. Amazon’s working that towards goal with “a team of missionaries,” Bezos told the investors, and maybe their enthusiasm is coming through the Kindles that they make. I love reading on my Kindle, and I like to think that Amazon understands that passion, and is just trying to keep sharing it with the rest of the world. I guess what I’m saying is that behind all the sales figures is a simple idea: that people will read more if you make it easy enough for them.

And that’s probably why Amazon is selling so many ebooks…

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