Kindle e-books are now outselling hardcover books for the first time, Amazon said today. For every 100 hardcovers it sold in the spring, Amazon sold 143 Kindle titles; the figure didn't include free books or samples. Sales accelerated over the period, Amazon said: its rate in June increased to 180 e-books for every 100 hardcover texts.
The company didn't mention paperback sales, which for now are still higher. It added that Kindle device sales were "growing," but it didn't say by how much. Amazon has often been vague with hardware sales and will only ever say it has sold "millions" of Kindles since launching in late 2007.
Amazon's timing for the milestone came the same quarter as when Apple launched the iPad and may have been spurred on by the availability of a universal iPad and iPhone app that gave many new buyers a Kindle reader. The iOS app is also technically superior to Amazon's own reader, as it supports audio and video along with color and touch, and may have lured those who were either new to e-reading or who wanted an upgrade from its grayscale rival. Amazon didn't track which devices were being used to read, but studies of users have suggested iPad owners are buying in place of other e-readers.
Sales weren't likely spiked by Amazon's own device strategy, as it only chose to slash the Kindle's price to $189 nine days before the end of the quarter; Amazon called it a "tipping point" but didn't illustrate the effects. Kindle DX numbers may have been hurt further, as the $489 price put it just $10 away from Apple's tablet. However, it only cut the price to $379 on July 1, a day after the quarter ended.