Sunday, December 6, 2009 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Kindle Book Sales

Jeff Bezos (via Marco Arment):

For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell, where we have the Kindle edition, we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition.

That’s incredible, but I’m not sure that I believe it. Are the numbers skewed by averaging in the free Kindle books or something?

3 Comments

"That’s incredible, but I’m not sure that I believe it. Are the numbers skewed by averaging in the free Kindle books or something?"

It might be, but it might not be.

Remember that the bulk of books are consumed by a small sliver of the population.

And if you consume more than 30 books a year, a Kindle starts to pay for itself, so the incentive for that small sliver of the population to read via Kindle gets large, a significant chunk of that small sliver thus gets Kindles, and voila.

I'm a heavy book consumer, and I read via dead tree because I much prefer the dead tree UI. But I'm paying more to enjoy my preference. And most people prefer to pay less.

Having 1/3 of book buyers going via Kindle makes some sense to me.

Thanks for the comments, Chucky. Some of the reasons the numbers sounded off for me:

1. I don’t know anyone who has a Kindle, I’ve never seen one in the wild, and Amazon hasn’t told anyone how many they’ve sold. So I figured it wasn’t that many.

2. I thought it was mostly the bestsellers (not the long tail) that were available for Kindle, so that the sliver sales would be dwarfed by the mass market who buy a few books per year. Or do those people buy at Walmart and local bookstores, and therefore not show up in Amazon’s dead-tree numbers?

3. I’m in the sliver that buys a lot of books, and theoretically a Kindle would be great for me, but most of the books I buy are not available for it.

I own a Kindle and, so far, if a book is available for Kindle and I want it, I've bought the Kindle version.

Don't forget too that you don't need to have a Kindle to buy the Kindle version of a book. It works on your iPhone and Windows computer (with Mac support, y'know, "coming soon").

But even with all that, 48 vs. 100 seems odd. 1/3 of Kindle-available books are sold for the Kindle? That just seems high.

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment