Sales of ebooks in the UK have shown a reading renaissance as well as a growing industry for authors, publishers and users.
Amazon, which owns the Kindle, a popular e-reader, has revealed that in the UK it is selling 114 e-books to every 100 printed hardbacks and paperbacks, according to the Telegraph. This does not include how many users are reading free books.
Despite revealing that more than half a million Kindle books are priced at £3.99 or less, Amazon said a boost in ebook sales was not just about cheap books and argued that much of its printed range was also sold at a low price, according to the Guardian.
In a surprise move in May, the company went into partnership with theUK’s largest bricks-and-mortar books retailer, Waterstones.
Part of the Kindle’s appeal to writers is that authors who have yet to sign a book deal can self-publish their stories as e-books.
The store’s most popular author this year is Fifty Shades of Grey writer EL James, whose surprise bestseller has enjoyed a major success as an e-book. It has sold more than two million copies in only four months, according to the Telegraph.
The Guardian reported that three of the other top 10 most popular Kindle authors of 2012 – Nick Spalding, Katia Lief and Kerry Wilkinson – were published by Amazon’s own Kindle Direct Publishing.
Amazon’s Kindle costs £89, has a battery life of one month and weighs around 170 g.
It faces competition from Apple’s iPad, the Kobo reader and Sony’s various e-book Readers.
The UK sales have outdone the U.S., in which it took almost four years for ebooks to sell in greater numbers than print copies.
Much to the consternation of the publishing industry, Amazon has refused to release audited figures for its digital book sales, something it does for printed books. It told the Guardian that the company would not discuss future policy on the matter.
The company told the Guardian its figures also showed that British Kindle users were buying four times as many books as they were before owning a Kindle, a trend it described as a renaissance of reading.
“As soon as we started selling Kindles it became our bestselling product on Amazon.co.uk so there was a very quick adoption … [And they] are buying four times more books prior to owning a Kindle,” an Amazon spokeswoman told the Guardian. “Generally there seems to be … a love of a reading and a renaissance as a result of Kindle being launched.”
This follows Amazon’s announcement that the Kindle Fire, a media consumption tablet, would support international app sales.
The move towards international sales of ebooks, however, is of massive importance to all ebook producers, ensuring a steady stream of customers and, more important, a cohort of readers who are used to spending money on digital copies of their favorite titles, according to TechCrunch.