Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, August 27, 2021

If, like me, you’ve been skeptical of Amazon‘s steadfast refusal to disclose just how many Kindles it’s actually sold, you’re not alone:

It’s in Amazon’s best interest to keep Kindle sales details under wraps, said Michael Norris of Simba Information, a research firm that covers the media and publishing industries.

“They can keep this perception of being the market leader without releasing the details,” Norris said. “It’s interesting to sit through Amazon earnings calls and nobody pushes for Kindle details. It’s as if people are trained not to ask.”

In general, e-books net Amazon more profit versus physical books, Norris said. He points to an “amusing” July press release that said the company sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books.

“A lot of the Kindle bestsellers cost 25 cents — of course they’re going to sell better than hardcovers for $14,” Norris said.

“They’re comparing apples to Apple Jacks,” he added. “This kind of message management is beyond normal corporate public relations. And now I’ve gotten so used to it that I’m becoming suspicious of any stats they release.”

I’m sure Amazon has sold a good volume of Kindles by now. But I’m sure they’re not selling like hotcakes — it’s only after all the price cuts and heavy marketing that they started to move. If these truly were ever a hot item, Amazon would have been crowing long and loud about how fast they were flying off the digital shelves, just as any company with a similar best-selling tech device would. Their silence speaks volumes.

Anecdotally, I’ve seen evidence around me of how little penetration Kindles have had. It took a solid six months after the e-reader went on sale, before I saw one “in the wild” here in New York — and this is a prime territory for such a device. Meanwhile, I spied my first iPad being toted around within hours of its sales release. That’s a bit apples-to-oranges, in that there are several Apple Stores locally, and so there wouldn’t be the same lag in mail-order delivery. But still, I think it’s reflective enough of the reality that Amazon is trying to hide.

All told, the push for these dedicated e-readers feels like a race to the bottom. The now-standard notebook computers will morph into iPad-like designs, making other third-screen devices (other than phones) superfluous. Amazon and the other entrants in that space can cook the numbers all they like toward that end, but that won’t change the eventual outcome.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 08/27/2010 08:44am
Category: Business, Publishing, Tech
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