TIME Magazine reported that sales of the 130,000 titles available in the Kindle Store represented 12% of the sales of the exact same 130,000 titles in other formats. This is a significant increase as Jeff Bezos reported at the end of May this figure was 6% of 125,000 titles.
The doubling of the percentage on a bigger base points to two very interesting trends – the first is the clearly growing number of Kindle owners – I cannot imagine that kind of ebook sales growth is possible on a similar number of devices. The device sales must be skyrocketing.
The other trend that may be exposed here is the sheer number of ebooks being purchased. Last month some of the bigger trade publishers announced they were increasing the number of titles available for the Kindle. This was done not because of any arm-twisting by Amazon – but clearly as a response to the demand. And just as lack of product has helped to keep ebooks unsuccessful to date, the opposite is helping drive consumer enthusiasm and buying.
More evidence that the e-ink based devices such as Kindle and Sony’s Reader have been selling well comes from further up the supply chain, from the screen manufacturer, PVI. As I reported in the last article, PVI manufactures the 6 inch EPD for Sony and Amazon (the iRex Iliad does not use a 6 inch screen) and in a report files in DIGITIMES last week, PVI reported “Small- to medium-size panel supplier Prime View International (PVI) saw its June sales rebound 23% sequentially to NT$663 million (US$21.79 million) as demand for niche products, including electrophoretic displays (EPDs), picked up, according to the company.” While this is hardly definitive, it should be enough to support the theory that e-ink reader sales are increasing.
This is good news for ebooks – and more good news happened with the opening of Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Even though I am not a big believer in LCD screen ebook readers (I find them very difficult on the eyes for immersive reading), I am thrilled that the iPhone/iPod juggernaut will now contain a variety of choices for reading ebooks. I look forward to seeing how ebook retailers, wholesalers, and publishers tap into this wonderful market and what inventive business models Mr. Jobs creates for ebooks. Oh, wait, Steve Jobs doesn’t think Americans read – maybe that dream of an iBooks store is a just pipe dream…
Evan Schnittman is OUP’s Vice President of Business Development and Rights for the Academic and USA Divisions. His career in publishing spans nearly 20 years and includes positions as varied as Executive Vice President at The Princeton Review and Professor at New York University’s Center for Publishing. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.