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Amazon selling more ebooks than books: Apocalypse or no big deal?

Because I am who I am - a writer/editor of little-to-no importance whatsoever who happens to write about and read a fair number of books - over the past couple of days friends have stopped me to lament the fact that Amazon reported last week that it now sells more ebooks than print books.

Books2 "It's awful," they say, shaking their heads. Even if they're not the sort of people I would consider avid readers, they seem saddened by this development.

But is it awful? I can't decide.

Since the beginning of April, Amazon has sold 105 Kindle books for every print book it sells. This doesn't include the books you can get free on your Kindle; if it did, I can only imagine what the number would be. And if rumors about Amazon developing its own tablet are true, well, that number is just going to skyrocket.

"We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly - we've been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years," CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. He may be surprised, but no one else seems to be. They do, however, seem to be ... sad.

I don't own an e-reader and have no plans to buy one anytime soon, but isn't the idea that books are still selling in any form good news? Using an e-reader actually encourages the purchase of books: It's so easy to buy ebooks THE VERY SECOND YOU WANT THEM without getting in the car and going to a bookstore or even ordering a hardback online. Say you finish your first Lee Child thriller. You can immediately download EVERY OTHER BOOK HE EVER WROTE at that very moment. There's something to be said for that, especially if one is an obsessive reader, though it is definitely hazardous to the credit card.

I love book stores. Love them. But I also enjoy instant gratification. I suppose I wish that both alternatives were open to me. Oh, wait, they are! At least for now. So no apocalypse yet...




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Laurie Hertzel

i love your blog and am glad it's back! my worry of course is for small bookstores. the more people buy for their kindles, the less they buy at the neighborhood indie. but we can't stop progress. and i happen to like my own kindle very much.

Kathy Foster

I prefer real books but have bought an Ebook from Amazon to read on my iPad on a weekend trip. You are right; I ordered it from my sofa and was reading it in less than 2 minutes.


Laurie, I too worry about indies and always try to shop there. But (sadly) there are plenty of places now where there ARE no indies. I also think it's possible that there are books I want to have and keep, and books I just want to read and don't really need a copy of...this is largely theoretical since it is very hard for me to give up a book, but it works in theory!

Connie Crowther

You should check this, but I think their stats related hardback books vs. e-books, and does not take into consideration all the paperbooks they sell. If that's true, it's a whole 'nother story...

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