Written by Literature

Trying to Decode Kindle Stats

Amazon has been trumpeting its latest Kindle stats, proclaiming that it has sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardback books sold over the last three months.
I say “stats”, but they actually keep their cards very close to their chest. They’re mostly talking about ratios. And they’re not necessarily comparing like with like.
While they’ve excluded the large number of free, out of copyright, books from their figures, they’re not including paperbacks. I know the US publishing set-up is different, but paperback sales tend to significantly outnumber hardback sales – certainly that’s the case in the UK with much popular fiction (with the exception of certain titles that get discounted extraordinarily heavily when they’re released in hardback – Harry Potter and Dan Brown spring to mind).
The only hard numbers that Amazon supplies is the fact that five authors have each cumulatively sold more than 500,000 books in the Kindle format: Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts.
But all of these best-selling authors have multiple titles in the Kindle format. Undoubtedly, those are significant sales stats. But I wonder how many copies in paperback Amazon has sold of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at $7.15 compared to the number of Kindle editions at $5.29.
I think we really need to get some actual numbers in, say, fiction. And then these need to be compared with total sales of hardback and paperbacks over the same period. That’d give a true reflection of the success of the device.
What I still find odd is that Amazon has yet to properly sell the device in the UK. While I’m quite able to buy it via Amazon.com, I have to pay in US dollars, and there are surely some issues surrounding support or returning faulty devices which at the very least will take longer than a purchase from Amazon.co.uk.
Still – look for Apple to try to reclaim bragging rights with its own sales via the iPad. We’ll have to wait and see.