The Kindle Is Bigger Than You Think

We get it. Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) Kindle is huge.

Amazon announced today that Kindle books have been outselling the e-tailer's print books since April.

You may have seen similar missives by Amazon in the past. Declarations in the past have been limited to hardcovers, paperbacks, or best-seller lists. No more. Amazon's e-books are outselling the store's traditional books across all platforms by 5% since last month.

Oh, and before you ask, Amazon isn't including the popular free e-books that Kindle owners love to gobble up in this question. We're pitting premium e-books against all of its hardcover and paperback editions.

Any other cynics wanting to take a shot? You in the back. What've you got?

"Kindle books are only growing in relative popularity. Print's dying, dude."

Not so fast. Amazon claims that its print book sales continue to grow. Overall book sales may be declining at Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) and Borders, but Amazon's mailing out a record number of books the old-fashioned way. Amazon's just selling more of its digital reads. It has already sold three times as many Kindle books this year as it did at this point in 2010.

The popularity of the recently introduced ad-supported Kindle at a wee price is also making Amazon's platform more mainstream. The $114 reader is now Amazon's best-selling Kindle. Yes, even throwback bibliophiles will put up with sponsored screen savers to save $25 on a Wi-Fi e-reader.

This has been a good week for fans of the print migration. Shares of New York Times (NYSE: NYT  ) popped higher after announcing the initial success of its digital content pay wall. Folks are paying real money for virtual books and newspapers articles. Nice!

Amazon has become the Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) of books. Studios may detest Netflix's digital streaming as much as publishers hate yielding control to Amazon's digital bookstore, but in the end they have to play along if they want to get noticed.

Things are bound to get even more interesting if Amazon comes out with its inevitable tablet. CEO Jeff Bezos has already told analysts to "stay tuned" in that regard, and it would give Amazon a multifunctional gadget to finally give Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad 2 a serious competitor.

Amazon's selling a ton of digital books these days. You didn't think it would end there, did you?

Will we ever see publishers offering fully subsidized Kindles? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended Netflix, Amazon.com, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying puts in Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a Kindle owner since 2008 and an iPad owner since last April. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story, except for Netflix.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2011, at 3:32 PM, EvenSteppinWolf wrote:

    yeah. whatever. amzn's not making money off books or kindle.

    i mean, they're really not making money off of anything, what with less than 3% gross margins.

    they are the less profitable walmart of the internet. wait until the tax man knocks amzn's door and we will see if their aprox 10% advantage in pricing means something to the consumer---and amazon's g.m.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2011, at 7:54 PM, MichaelDSimms wrote:

    I love Amazon and use it regularly. I just purchased a Kindle and downloaded my first book. I have yet to make a determination on how well I like to read from it. I got the 3g version for the whole family to try.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2011, at 9:03 AM, David369 wrote:

    Dang, if this keeps up eventually paper books will start to decline. What will happen to librarys? Are magazines next? Newspaper stands? Shoot, I might have to buy a kindle one day or even a tablet. Then I will be subject to the subliminal messages Amazon hides in the e-ink. Bezos and his devious plot to take over the world....

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2011, at 9:53 AM, SvjatojDurak wrote:

    My kids gave me a Kindle just as we moved to Kenya two years ago. It has been a God-send to be able to browse the (electronic) bookstore and download books for personal and professional use. We're returning back to the States next month and I'm going to load up 3-4 novels for the long flight home.

  • Report this Comment On May 23, 2011, at 4:51 PM, Melaschasm wrote:

    If advertiser supported Kindles are so popular, shouldn't an advertiser supported tablet be equally successful?

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