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Photons and Electrons

James Condliffe:

One Per Cent: Kindle is mightier than the book, for Amazon at least: Forget the dog-eared holiday paperback: you'll be reading an ebook on the beach this summer, if Amazon's latest sales figures are anything to go by. For the first time, Amazon's Kindle book sales have overtaken those of their paperbacks, making ebooks the company's most popular format in the US. In a statement published on their website, Amazon announced: is now selling more Kindle books than paperback books. Since the beginning of the year, for every 100 paperback books Amazon has sold, the Company has sold 115 Kindle books. Additionally, during this same time period the company has sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books.

Kindle sales first overtook hardbacks back in July of 2010. But this latest announcement marks a much more significant step forward. The company's aggressive marketing of digital books seems to have helped it achieve its first ever $10 billion quarter at the end of last year, and ebook sales look set to keep breaking records. Last December, the Kindle device replaced J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as Amazon's biggest-selling single product ever, and the Kindle store itself now boasts over 810,000 titles.

Amazon has very cleverly separated hardback and paperback sales in these newly-released figures - and remained tight-lipped about the raw sales numbers for the time period they quote in their release. The Guardian points out that this differentiation actually "suggests that the online retailer still sells 120 print books for every 100 ebooks sold". So in absolute terms, the hard-copy book still outsells its digital counterpart.

Nevertheless, the news suggests that the Kindle's success is sealed as the champion of e-readers - and maybe even reading, full stop.