Amazon's e-book sales have outpaced both its hardcover and softcover sales combined: it now sells at least 105 e-books for every 100 printed books. As a result of successful e-book sales, Amazon's book business in the United States is having its fastest growing year in 2011 for the first time in the past ten years.
After starting to sell print books online nearly 15 years ago, Amazon launched its e-book business in 2007 with its star e-reader product – the Kindle. Sales of e-books have outnumbered hardcover books since July 2010, and they surpassed softcovers six months after that. So far this year, three times as many e-books have been sold over 2010.
Books with Kindle editions usually cost less than print versions. Amazon recently released a Kindle e-book reader that sells for $114 to US-based customers who do not mind receiving advertisements on their readers.
Publishers feel that the trend towards reading e-books is likely to continue. Financial challenges that traditional book stores face may also help drive e-book revenue; in February 2011, major bookstore chain Borders filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Key Statistics – US E-book Industry (source: Association of American Publishers)
- E-book industry revenue in the US was at close to $70 million in March 2011; with growth over 145% compared to March 2010.
- Sales of adult softcover books reached $116 million, down 8% (March 2011).
- Sales of adult hardcover books were at nearly $97 million, up 6% (March 2011).