kindling readers

Digital Books May Drive Print Editions
by Bill Esler and Jim Milliot -- Graphic Arts Online, 2/4/2009 5:21:00 AM

eBook sales at Seattle-based Amazon seem to be driving, or at least not hurting, printed book sales. That news was revealed by CEO Jeff Bezos when he announced Q4 sales of $6.7 billion, up 18%, and net income of $225 million in the period. For the full year, earnings rose 36%, to $645 million on a 29% revenue gain to $19.17 billion.
Roughly half the firm's sales derive from media—mostly books and music—and roughly half its total sales come from North America. Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos said that while the company expected strong demand for the Kindle in the fourth quarter, Amazon was surprised by how strong demand was.

"With Kindle sales, we see that when people buy a Kindle, they actually continue to buy the same number of physical books going forward as they did before they owned a Kindle," said Bezos. "And then incrementally, they buy about 1.6 to 1.7 electronic books—Kindle books—for every physical book that they buy. So, so far what we’re seeing is very strong incremental book unit sales, which of course we’re very pleased to see. The biggest surprises so far for Kindle have just been the unusually strong demand that we saw in the fourth quarter. We had anticipated strong demand, and what we saw was stronger than that. So we are extremely grateful for that, and we will keep marching forward here."

It is widely expected that Amazon will introduce a new version of the Kindle at a Feb. 9 press conference. The Kindle Store book selection increased by 45,000 titles in the fourth quarter, bringing the total to 230,000 titles. One hundred three out of 112 current New York Times bestsellers are available and, along with most new releases, are priced at $9.99 or less. In addition, the Kindle Store recently added The Arizona Republic, The Baltimore Sun, The Orange County Register and USA Today and now offers newspapers from 8 of the top 10 metro areas in the United States. Bezos said that Kindle users continue to buy the same number of printed books as they did before, but now at 1.6 or more eBook tites to their online orders.


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