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Category: Kindle

Amazon now sells more Kindle e-books than print books

Kindle_april2011

In a major e-book news, Amazon.com announced Thursday that it now consistently sells more Kindle e-books than print books.

Since April 1 of this year, Amazon sold 105 Kindle e-books for every 100 print books sold, hardcover and paperback combined.

Kindle e-book sales, which do not include Amazon's popular free e-book downloads, have been bolstered by the popularity of the newest, cheapest Kindle. The company says the $114 Kindle -- whose price is low because it includes advertising -- is the bestselling Kindle ever.

The original Kindle introduced in November 2007 cost $399.

Amazon also notes that year-to-date sales of Kindle e-books total more than three times those sold in the same period last year. But what those numbers are is not known.

Although Amazon is quick to share news of the popularity of its e-books, it does not make public actual numbers of Kindles sold or e-books sold.

RELATED:

Amazon to sell ad-supported Kindle for $114

Charlaine Harris sells 1 million Kindle e-books

Have you faced Kindle prejudice?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amazon Kindle. Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

Amazon to offer Kindle library lending. Is there a catch?

Kindle_april2011

Amazon announced Wednesday that it will offer library lending for Kindle ebooks. While this announcement was met with much rejoicing, it was made without many specifics. For example, the program lacks a public launch date. When, exactly, will libraries offer ebooks for the Kindle?

According to Amazon's press release, "later this year."

Other major specifics were left out of the announcement: the length of the lending period, which publishers will participate in the program, and if there will be any limit to the number of times a Kindle ebook can be checked out. All of these questions remain significant when it comes to talking about libraries and ebooks.

Yet Amazon's news, as vague as it is, seems to be a positive step for making ebooks more widely available through libraries. As our sibling Technology blog reports:

The Kindle is the most popular e-reader on the market and it's also Amazon's best-selling item, though the world's largest online retailer won't say just how many Kindles it has sold.

Amazon said its Kindle library lending will be available for all generations of Kindle e-readers and its free Kindle apps found on desktops, laptops and devices, such as many popular smartphones and tablet computers.

Yet it doesn't mean you'll be able to get, say, the latest Jodi Picoult bestseller from the library. Currently, major publishers Simon & Schuster and Macmillan do not offer ebook lending of their books. Yet it's also possible you'll run into problems trying to borrow an older ebook -- such as Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys," published in 2005 -- because of lending-limit restrictions. HarperCollins recently came under fire when it decided that its ebooks could only be borrowed a maximum of 26 times.

Amazon's announcement, if thin on details, is significant at the macro level: the Seattle-based company is in partnership with OverDrive, a major supplier of ebooks and other technologies to libraries. Meanwhile, Amazon has reinstated the database connections needed by Lendle, a startup company that allows Kindle ebook users to loan books to one another, indicating that Amazon is opening up the Kindle on multiple fronts to be an e-reader that can borrow and share ebooks.

While this is good news for library patrons and ebook fans, there's still one catch: you have to own a Kindle, or an e-reader with the Kindle app installed. That is, until libraries decide to start lending Kindles themselves.

RELATED:

March 7: HarperCollins' 26-checkout limit on libraries' ebooks starts today

Digital Book World: Where do libraries and ebooks meet?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amazon Kindle. Credit: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

Kindle's magically disappearing magazines [updated]

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Magazine subscribers who use their Kindles to subscribe are doing the environment a service: fewer dead trees, less paper waste. But apparently they're doing themselves a disservice, because if they choose to unsubscribe, back issues of their magazine disappear from their Kindles.

According to a report on Gizmodo, users who subscribe through the Kindle must continue to subscribe or have their back issues removed from the device "for good." Back issues that had been downloaded and paid for simply disappear.

What's more, Gizmodo writes, "there is also no existing way to transfer old issues of your subscription to a new device before you cancel." Which makes sense; I can't get a free CD of my Hall & Oates cassettes just because I upgraded players. Wait, what? Nobody uses CDs anymore?

Anyway, losing back issues when unsubscribing will inevitably be frustrating to some consumers;  after all, magazines that you've paid for should be yours to keep as long as you like. Then again, for the person who accumulates back issues of the New Yorker in slippery, off-balance stacks until she changes apartments (cough), the disappearance of old magazines might be so bad after all.

Update, 6/19 6:35pm: Amazon says that the Gizmodo account is atypical and the standard practice is for seven back issues, if downloaded, to remain on the Kindle even after a subscription is terminated.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Reading -- a Kindle and a newspaper -- on the subway in Cambridge, Mass., March 2011. Credit: Bryan Snyder / Reuters

Amazon to sell ad-supported Kindle for $114

Amazon_kindle_ad Amazon on Monday announced that it will offer a Kindle with advertising. The hardware  remains the same, but the price has dropped to $114.

The Kindle with ads -- which Amazon is calling Kindle with Special Offers" -- is $25 off the current retail price. Available now for pre-orders, it will ship May 3.

The Kindle with Special Offers advertisements will appear as full-screen screensavers and as an option on the home screen -- as Amazon puts it in the release, "To make sure customers don't miss any of the offers, a full list of active offers will be available from the menu of Kindle with Special Offers at any time."

Offers that have been announced include six audiobooks for $6 from Audible and a number of Amazon discounts with a purchase, particularly a purchase with the Amazon.com Reward Visa Card (from Chase).

Other companies in the first round of screensaver advertisements are Visa, Buick and Olay (Procter & Gamble).

Amazon is launching "AdMash," a Kindle app and website where customers can choose the display advertisements that will become Kindle-sponsored screensavers. The app is free -- which one might expect, considering it's asking customers to voluntarily act as a focus group for advertisers.

The bigger problem with this is that it just doesn't look that great. While text displayswell on the Kindle's low-glare, e-ink display, images don't fare so well. The Kindle is still in grayscale -- and on  screen, we've grown accustomed to seeing our photographs in full color.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amazon's "Kindle with Special Offers." Credit: Amazon

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