Amazon Sells More Ebooks Than Hardcovers

"I spent the afternoon in a bookstore. There were no books in it. None had been printed for nearly half a century..."
(Stanislaw Lem, Return from the Stars)

Amazon.com has announced that it has sold more ebooks than hardcover paper books during a quarter for the first time ever. Amazon says that it sold 143 kindle ebooks for every 100 hardcover books.

The pace of change is quickening, too, Amazon said. In the last four weeks sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcover copies. Amazon has 630,000 Kindle books, a small fraction of the millions of books sold on the site.

The growth rate of Kindle sales tripled after Amazon lowered the price of the device in late June to $189 from $259, Amazon said. That was moments after Barnes & Noble dropped the price of its Nook e-reader to $199 from $259.

Although the Amazon statistic does not cover all books (it excludes paperbacks), I think that sf writer Stanislaw Lem saw this day coming clearly. In his 1961 novel Return from the Stars, he wrote:

I spent the afternoon in a bookstore. There were no books in it. None had been printed for nearly half a century...

No longer was it possible to browse among shelves, to weigh volumes in hand, to feel their heft, the promise of ponderous reading. The bookstore resembled, instead, an electronic laboratory. The books were crystals with recorded contents. They can be read the aid of an opton, which was similar to a book but had only one page between the covers. At a touch, successive pages of the text appeared on it...
(Read more about Lem's opton ebook reader)

This futuristic sight can be seen in your local bookstore as well.


(A futuristic sight in my local Barnes & Noble bookstore)

Read more at NY Times.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/19/2010)

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