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Amazon Now Selling More E-books than Hardcovers

Amazon.com has been notoriously tight-lipped about the number of books it sells, and that secrecy has extended to Amazon Kindle e-reader devices and e-books: the company has never said now many Kindles it has sold, or how many e-books its customers buy. However, in an unusual move, Amazon is tooting the Kindle’s horn a little bit, noting that its recent decision to cut the Kindle’s price to $189 has significantly boosted Kindle sales during the last month. The online retailer now claims it sells substantially more e-books than hardcover books, although it still wont’ say how many of either it’s actually moving.

“We’ve reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle—the growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, in a statement. “In addition, even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format.”

Amazon says that during the last three months, it has sold 143 Kindle titles for every 100 hardcover books—and during the last month (corresponding to the Kindle’s price drop to $189) that number has accelerated to 180 ebook titles for every 100 hardcover books sold. (The figures omit paperback sales; it’s a safe bet that paperbacks continue to outsell hardcovers and Kindle e-books by a wide margin.) Amazon has been selling hardcover books for since 15 years; however, the Kindle business is not yet three years old. The company says it has sold more than three times as many Kindle e-books in the first half of 2010 as it did in the first half of 2009.

Amazon also notes that five individual authors—Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts—have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books apiece.

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