Amazon says Kindle books are outselling hardcovers

By Joseph Galante
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 said Monday that growth in sales of its Kindle digital reader accelerated every month in the second quarter and that it's selling more electronic books than hardcover editions.

The pace of Kindle sales also has tripled since the Internet retail giant cut the price on the device to $189 from $259, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Announced last month, the 27 percent price cut was aimed at helping Amazon fend off a threat from Apple's iPad tablet computer, which includes book-reading tools. Amazon hasn't disclosed Kindle sales since releasing the device in 2007, saying only that it has sold millions. Its release of growth figures may be aimed at quelling concern that the iPad has crimped Kindle demand, according to Dmitriy Molchanov, an analyst at Yankee Group.

"There's a real perception that the iPad has completely squashed the e-reader space and that's really not the case," said Molchanov. "Amazon is doing really well and both companies can profit at the same time."

Amazon said it sold more than triple the number of Kindle books in the first half of the year as it did in the comparable period last year. More than 81 percent of its 630,000 electronic books cost $9.99 or less.

"We've reached a tipping point with the new price of Kindle," Bezos said in the statement. " customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books -- astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months."

In the past three months, Amazon has sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, the company said. In July, sales of e-books accelerated to 180 sold for every 100 hardcover versions. Kindle book sales this year have also exceeded broader e-book sales growth, pegged by the Association of American Publishers at 207 percent through May, Amazon said.

Last month, Apple that it sold 3 million iPads in 80 days after the device's April 3 release date. Amazon will probably sell 3.7 million Kindles this year, bringing in $2.38 billion in sales, according to estimates by Caris & Co. The figure assumes Kindle owners also purchase digital books.

To fend off competition from Apple and Sony, which also makes e-readers, this month Amazon released a version of its larger Kindle DX with sharper contrast and cut its price by more than $100.

Shares of Amazon rose $1.45, to $119.94, in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, trimming the year-to-date decline to 11 percent.

-- Bloomberg News

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