Has the e-book officially ousted dead-tree tomes? That's the gist of news from Amazon, who has announced
that "on Christmas Day, for the first time ever, customers purchased more Kindle books than physical books." But tech bloggers are eying the numbers mistrustfully. Some observers think the old-fashioned book still has life left in it, while others retort that, despite the debunking of Amazon figures, this Christmas marked a milestone akin to the iPod's takeover:
- Misleading Numbers--Of Course They Sold More on Christmas Day Those receiving Kindles as gifts on Christmas Day, explains Ben Parr
at Mashable, would naturally then buy digital books to try them out,
elevating Kindle book sales. Simultaneously, "real book sales would be
Christmas shopping season would have passed and most people were
concentrating on their families, not shopping, that day." So he calls
Amazon's "Kindle is the most gifted item ever" announcement "mostly PR
smoke and mirrors ...ebook sales still pale in comparison to the
countless paper books that were sold this Christmas season."
- Ditto--Also, Don't They Mean 'Rent'? Techdirt's Mike Masnick makes the same point, and adds that "buying" e-books isn't really "buying." His argument: "When someone buys a physical book from Amazon, they then own that book
and can do pretty much what they want with it, including reselling it
or giving it away"--that's not the case with an e-book, which cannot be shared and can theoretically disappear at Amazon's command. "So," he concludes, "congrats to Amazon, for renting more books on a day when such
rentals are to be expected and when physical book sales are probably at
their very lowest."
- Still Important Figures, counters The Business Insider's Henry Blodget. The
numbers are impressive, especially considering that Amazon continues to
lose money on Kindle books. The company's strategy "is clearly to drive
'ubiquity,' and based on stats like those above, it is succeeding. The
more Kindle books Amazon sells, the more leverage it will have over
publishers when it tries to force them to cut wholesale prices." That
is not, Blodget emphasizes, "necessarily bad for publishers." If prices
are cut, "sales velocity should soar. Publishers and writers will make less per unit, but the increased volume should make up a lot of the difference."
- Kindle Picking Up Steam "What this still means," explains Wired's Charlie Sorrel, "is that e-books are now mainstream. The Kindle ... has that critical
combination of brand awareness, catalog and full integration." He compares this to the iPod takeover of the mp3 player field: "
It took the iPod and iTunes many years to become the number one music
retailer in the US. The Kindle has overtaken the competition (Amazon)
in just two years."
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