Jun 9

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

The Kindle: "Looks Like a Million to Me"

Evan Schnittman of Oxford University Press has a fascinating blog post Looks Like a Million To Me: How I Realized that Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s E-Reader Were Exceeding Sales Estimates, which calculates the combined number of Sony Reader and Kindle units out there to be a million by the end of 2008:

Amazon and Sony both use the 6-inch electrophoretic display (EPD), also known as an e-ink screen. Both companies buy their EPD’s from Prime View International (PVI) of Taiwan. DIGITIMES, a daily news service covering the Taiwanese IT market, reported on April 18th, in a story entitled PVI EDP shipments to grow sharply in 2008, that PVI expects EPD module shipments to reach 120,000 units PER MONTH in the second half of 2008. It further explains that the unit price of the screens are $60-$70 per unit and that the current volume has been 60-80,000 units PER MONTH.

Also intriguing is the article’s claim that 60% of the EPD’s go to Amazon and 40% go to Sony. This is an important factor as it implies that there is a market beyond Kindle - a very, very strong market. Taking the figures at face value, Sony was selling (or at least manufacturing) an average of 28,000 readers per month (I took 70,000 units as the average sold per month and then 40% of that). Using this monthly rate, the annual sales of the Sony Reader are at nearly 350,000 units. Using the same formula, Amazon is ordering an average of 42,000 units per month, which will add up to over 500,000 units sold this year.

Schnittman then goes on to provide some ebook industry sales estimates based on the figures released by Jeff Bezos at D and BEA, namely that of the 125,000 titles available both in print and on the Kindle, 6% of unit sales were for Kindle titles. He estimates a range of sales of from $60 to $120 million in 2008 ebook sales. (And of course, that's not counting sales of online subscription services like Safari, which don't fit the downloadable model, but are paid consumption of digital books just the same.)

tags: publishing, web 2.0  | comments: 7   | Sphere It

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Comments: 7

  Mark Coker [06.09.08 09:41 PM]

Great news, Tim. The rise of ebooks will mean greater content selection and lower prices for consumers, and greater opportunity for independent authors to digitally self-publish and reach a meaningful audience.

Some day soon, the new marker for author sales success will be measured by their appearance on digital best-seller lists.

Mark Coker
"ebook self-publishing for indie authors"

  Glenn Fleishman [06.09.08 10:55 PM]

Evan's logic is off from the start. He says that Bezos said something he didn't (that 6% of each of 125,000 books was sold on the Kindle); that Bezos said "unit sales" when he did not; and thus infers in regards to "The Last Lecture":

"If Kindle sales were 6%, then Amazon would have already sold 4,500 ebooks."

Not so. So his numbers have a fallacy in the very first part of his proof.

  Improbus [06.10.08 06:25 AM]

I would really like to buy an ebook reader. This is what I need to buy one:

1) Get the price to under $200
2) I want to view ANY popular ebook format.
3) Make DRM optional (I don't want it)
4) Make the screen 8.5x11 inches
5) Use standard SD cards for storage
6) I don't care if it has WIFI

  Michael Richardson [06.10.08 07:20 AM]

If I understand the point of this post, it is that people were trying to estimate how many Kindle's have been sold by how many eBooks Amazon is selling.

I would like a kindle. It looks like the reader that I'd want, and is a little more purpose-built for reading an an OLPC XO or a Nokia 8x0.

But, the odds of me ever purchasing an ebook for it are very low. I do care if it has wifi, as I live in Canada, the land of the stupid telco, where GPRS is useless.

  Jeff Donnici [06.10.08 10:16 AM]

I've had my Kindle for about six weeks now... while not perfect, it's a great device and has met or exceeded nearly all of my expectations for it. Three things would make it MUCH better:

1. Less real estate dedicated to NEXT buttons (too easy to hit).
2. The ability to organize content on the device into folders.
3. The ability to access my Safari subscription on it.

Note that these are in REVERSE priority... If O'Reilly makes my Safari subscription available through this, I'll risk injury to do a back-flip!

  Cat Hoffman [06.11.08 02:38 AM]

I know it's been said a ton of times and you're probably sick of hearing it, but I too would do back flips for the ability to download my Safari subscription books onto the Kindle. Wouldn't there be a way to set an expiration date on the file? That way they could expire at the end of each subscription yet perhaps?

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