On December 27, 2010, Amazon announced that the third-generation Kindle is “the bestselling product in Amazon’s history, eclipsing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7).” On Christmas Day, The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo was the most purchased and most gifted Kindle book on amazon.com. Enough copies of “Eclipse” were sold for Edward Cullen to watch the movie 1,000 times a year for another 109 years. Visit the Amazon Media Room for more interesting factoids.
eBooks had a slow start, from 1971, when Michael Hart founded Project Gutenberg to 1998, when NetLibrary introduced online books to libraries. A few years later, eBooks had firmly established a niche on college campuses as useful research tools. Active people like them for their convenient size, light weight, storage space, and low book prices. 2010 is the year many people got an eBook reader or installed reader software on their computers. I did both.
Readers now have more devices to choose from, ranging from the popular Kindle and Sony Reader to Apple’s sexy iPad, the competitive Barnes & Noble Nook and Borders’ Kobo eReader. In July 2010, Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon sold more eBooks than hardcover books in the preceding three months, and that in the past month, they sold 180 eBooks for every 100 hardcover books. For a take on these statistics, see CNet’s coverage of the story.
The Kindle really too off when Amazon dropped the price to $189, and has introduced a new $139 Kindle with wi-fi instead of 3G. Competition is a big motivator!
The limitations of a narrowly dedicated device are falling away as eReader support for PDF and other formats is improving. These days, you don’t need a Kindle or Sony Reader to enjoy eBooks, because free versions of reader software are now available for computers and mobile devices. Try out eBooks without making any investment at all by downloading Kindle Reading Apps or Sony Reader Library Software.
Update: For more current information on eBook trends, see:
eBook publishing is good for authors
eBooks are not only good for readers, but give authors an opportunity to package their works and put them on the market quickly and easily with Amazon’s DTP (Digital Text Platform). Preparing your eBook for publication on the Kindle involves several steps and basic knowledge of formatting requirements. There is an Amazon DTP support site with documentation and a user forum.
Authors with a bit of experience coding HTML or XML will find these tasks easy, but many will not. Fortunately, there are good tutorials, books, and user communities to help you. If you’re too busy to do it yourself, there are folks who have experience converting Word or other file formats into shape. Prices for these services are fairly standard and reasonable, considering how much time and grief they can save. Generally, after you submit your document to such service, they will clean up the code in your document, convert it to Kindle or ePub format, and return the files to you. A service package may also include the creation of a Table of Contents, NCX file, and a cover image, depending on what you need to proceed with publishing on the Amazon DTP (Digital Text Platform).
I wrote a guest article for CJ’s Easy as Pie on how to Create an NCX File for Kindle or ePub books. CJ has a suite of informative tutorials on her site that help authors clean up their Word files for publication. If you used Word to create your book, and are not sure how to move forward with self-publication using Amazon’s Digital Text Platform, check out CJ’s Easy as Pie.