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Amazon not yet dominant

20 August 2012

 The recent news that Amazon's Kindle sales of ebooks have surpassed sales of print books led many commentators to assume that ebook sales are now outstripping print book sales. But, even in the States, where the growth in ebook sales has been extraordinarily fast, print books still outsell ebooks to a large extent, in fact they currently only constitute about 25% of total sales.

Amazon is currently very interested in persuading authors that the best thing for them to do is to go and be published on their platform, but in fact it is the traditional print publishing business which provides the bulk of the internet retailer's bookselling income through their vast sales. The Bookseller's Futurebook estimates that Amazon has around 40% market share. On E L James' huge bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, Amazon says it has sold 2 million copies, but there are 8 million copies in print, so they have only 25% of this.

The other consideration is profitability. The self-published titles coming out from Amazon generally have very low prices, and thus not much room for them to profit, whereas the titles put out by publishers have higher prices and are sold to Amazon at a substantial discount. All of this makes it possible to conclude that Amazon are not having everything their own way yet, although there are plenty of independent booksellers who have suffered a grave loss of business because of Amazon's ability to offer value and speed of delivery.