Amazon's Kindle hit an important and startling milestone yesterday: On Christmas, the company sold more Kindle books than physical books.
Yes, this is obviously the result of everyone who got a Kindle for Christmas (lots of folks) firing it up and ordering a bunch of ebooks on a day in which most physical book readers weren't shopping. But it's still important and impressive.
The Kindle's economics are still lousy for Amazon: The company loses money on new releases and makes only a modest amount on older titles, thus losing an estimated $US1 per Kindle book.
That said, Amazon's strategy is clearly to drive "ubiquity", and based on stats like those above, it is succeeding. The more Kindle books Amazon sells, the more leverage it will have over publishers when it tries to force them to cut wholesale prices. If Amazon's Kindle momentum continues, the day publishers have to capitulate will come sooner rather than later.
And, despite publishers' cries, this is not necessarily bad for publishers: If publishers cut wholesale prices, Amazon will be able to cut retail prices. If the retail prices are cut to nominal levels - $US2.99 or $US3.99 per copy - sales velocity should soar. Publishers and writers will make less per unit, but the increased volume should make up a lot of the difference.
Amazon's release below.
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Amazon Kindle is the Most Gifted Item Ever on Amazon.comOn Christmas Day, for the First Time Ever, Customers Purchased More Kindle Books Than Physical BooksSEATTLE, Dec 26, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that Kindle has become the most gifted item in Amazon's history. On Christmas Day, for the first time ever, customers purchased more Kindle books than physical books. The Kindle Store now includes over 390,000 books and the largest selection of the most popular books people want to read, including New York TimesBestsellersand New Releases.
"We are grateful to our customers for making Kindle the most gifted item ever in our history," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. "On behalf of Amazon.com employees around the world, we wish everyone happy holidays and happy reading!"
On Amazon's peak day, Dec. 14, 2009, customers ordered over 9.5 million items worldwide, which is a record-breaking 110 items per second.
Amazon Worldwide 2009 Holiday Facts (includes www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.co.jp and www.amazon.ca):
- Amazon shipped to over 178 countries.
- One of our most remote shipments contained the EMU Australia Toddler Boot and was delivered to Atqasuk, Alaska.
- On the peak day this season, Amazon's worldwide fulfillment network shipped over 7 million units.
- Amazon shipped over 200,000 units to APO/FPO addresses.
- Amazon shipped more than 99 percent of orders in time to meet holiday deadlines worldwide.
Amazon.com 2009 Holiday Facts (www.amazon.com only):
- Amazon customers purchased enough fruit cake to equal the weight of a 1967 Volkswagen Bug.
- Amazon customers bought enough gingerbread house kits that if stacked on top of each other would be as tall as the Sears Tower.
- If all the computers customers purchased this holiday were stacked one on top of the other, they would be more than twice as high as Mt. Everest.
- Amazon customers bought over 50 times more Light Therapy devices this holiday season than there are sunny days in Seattle the entire year.
- For the holiday time period alone, Amazon customers purchased enough shoot-and-share camcorders to supply 50 years' worth of non-stop YouTube watching.
- Amazon customers bought enough Levi's jeans to clothe everyone at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
- Amazon customers purchased so many Blu-ray disc players that if you lined them up side to side, they would stretch for more than 27 miles.
- During the 2009 holiday season, Amazon customers bought enough 8 GB iPod touches to play 442 years of continuous music.
- In 2009, Amazon customers purchased enough heart rate monitor watches to put one on the wrist of everyone who finished the New York City marathons in 2008 and 2009.
- Amazon customers purchased enough Frustration-Free Package items to eliminate over 32,000 pounds of frustrating plastic materials, such as plastic clamshells.
- The last One-Day Prime order that was delivered in time for Christmas, was placed on Dec. 23 at 9:17 p.m. Pacific and shipped to Boca Raton, Florida for delivery on Dec. 24. The item was a pair of Yellow Gold 8-8.5mm Freshwater Cultured Pearl Stud Earrings.
- The last Local Express Delivery order that was delivered in time for Christmas, was placed by a Prime member and went to Seattle. It was a Kindle that was ordered at 1:43 p.m. on Christmas Eve and delivered at 4:57 p.m. that evening.
Amazon.com's Hot Holiday Bestsellers (Nov. 15 through Dec. 19, based on units ordered):
- Electronics: Kindle Wireless Reading Device; Apple iPod touch 8 GB; and Garmin nuvi 260W 4.3-inch GPS
- Toys: Scrabble Slam Cards; The Settlers of Catan; and Scene It? Twilight Deluxe Edition
- Video Games and Hardware: Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board; New Super Mario Bros; and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
- Sports & Outdoors: Razor A Kick Scooter; Victorinox Swiss Army Champion Plus Pocket Knife; and P90X Extreme Home Fitness Workout Program
- DVD: "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince;" "Star Trek;" and "Up"
- Books: "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin; "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown; and "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett
- Music: "I Dreamed A Dream" by Susan Boyle; "My Christmas" by Andrea Bocelli; and "Crazy Love" by Michael Bublé
- Jewelry: Sterling Silver Marcasite & Garnet Glass Heart Pendant; 10k White Gold Diamond 3-Stone Heart Pendant; and 18k White Gold Round Diamond 4-Prong Stud Earrings
- Watches: Casio Men's Waveceptor Atomic Dual-Time Watch; Invicta Men's II Collection Chronograph Stainless Steel Blue Dial Watch; and Timex Kids' Camouflage Stretch Band Watch
- Beauty: Sephora Brand colour Play Palette II; Santa's Lump of Coal Christmas Soap; and Sephora Brand Ultimate Blockbuster
- Home & Garden: Keurig My K-Cup Reusable Coffee Filter; Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator; and Oster Electric Wine-Bottle Opener
- Clothing & Accessories: The Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee; Levi's Men's 550 Relaxed Fit Jean; and Levi's Men's 501 Jean
- Shoes and Handbags (Amazon.com and Endless.com): Steve Madden Women's Bonanza Tall Shafted Flat Boot; Hunter Original Tall Welly Boot; and EMU Australia Women's Hip Boot
- Health & Personal Care: Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer; Philips Sonicare Essence 5300 Power Toothbrush; and Farouk CHI 1 Inch Ceramic Flat Hairstyling Iron
- Gourmet Food: Bon Appetit Gift Basket; Grand Ghirardelli Chocolate Gift Basket; and 50's Decade Box Gift Basket
- Home Improvement: Black & Decker MSW100 Ready Wrench; Bosch Laser Distance Measuring Device; and Joby Gorillatorch Adjustable and Flexible Tripod Flashlight
- Automotive Parts & Accessories: Wagan 12V Heated Seat Cushion; 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System; and Autel MaxiScan MS300 CAN OBD-II Scan Tool
- Baby: Baby Einstein Takealong Tunes; Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether; and Baby Einstein Bendy Ball
- Software: Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007; Adobe Photoshop Elements 8; and Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Home & Student Edition
- Grocery: Coffee People Donut Shop K-Cups for Keurig Brewers; Coffee People K-Cup Santa's Buzz; and Vita Coco 100% Pure Coconut Water
- Wireless: Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Unlocked Phone; Plantronics 510 Bluetooth Headset; and BlackBerry Bold 9700 Phone (AT&T)