E-Books Are Selling Like Crazy

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E-books have finally seemed to take hold in the marketplace in a big way. The major publishers are selling more e-books than they are paper books, and Christian publishers will not be far behind in captializing on this trend.

Hachette recently announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date, the first author to top the one million e-book sales list. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books.

Authors Who Are Reaping Big Profits

Five authors– Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson and Nora Roberts, have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books, according to Amazon.  “Over the past three months for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 143 Kindle books. Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 180 Kindle books.”

As of July, there were 630,000 titles in the Kindle Store and 510,000 of those were priced at $9.99 or less, which means that only about 20 percent of total Kindle books available for sale were priced higher than $10. Over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle.

“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 Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. “In addition, even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. Amazon.com 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.”

Paper Books Still Selling Well

Still, the hardback comparison figure doesn’t necessarily mean the end is near for paper books. Amazon said its hardback book unit sales also continued to increase. Moreover, while Amazon has become one of the largest booksellers in the U.S., it still attracts an online audience that is more inclined to be early adopters of new reading technology.

A Publishers Weekly article reports interviews with several major trade houses, all acknowledging that they were selling at least as many e-books as hardcovers through Amazon, with one major publisher reporting that in the last few weeks the ratio had been higher than the 143 e-books to 100 hardcovers Amazon reported for the second quarter.

There may be a new e-book trend based on the example of Pete Hamill. He wrote a book, They Are Us, about a hot topic, immigration, he decided to go straight to e-book rather than wait for a traditional p-book to be published.  Hamill is a prominent American journalist, columnist, novelist and short story writer. He is one of four men who disarmed Sirhan Sirhan of his gun in the aftermath of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination.

A New York Times story says Hamill wanted to write a book that dealt largely with the politics of immigration, and with the midterm elections coming up in November, it hardly made sense to abide by a traditional, slower publishing schedule. Putting the book out in digital form saved at least six to eight weeks for typesetting, printing and distribution, not to mention the cost of paper. The book could be out before the midterms, so that it could influence the debate, not follow it.

Published on: Aug 29, 2010

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