Electronic books are now outselling the classic ink and paper kind on the world’s largest online retailer.
Word of this paradigm shift comes straight from Amazon, which claims that since April 1 it has sold 105 e-books for every 100 printed books its patrons purchased. This ratio excludes customers downloading free e-books, but includes both hardcover and softcover books, as well as printed books for which there are no electronic analogue.
Though grim tidings for bibliophiles who enjoy the heft, texture and scent of an actual book, this news comes as joyous to Amazon. The retailer, which analysts estimate is responsible for two-thirds of all U.S. e-book sales, took this opportunity to promote the latest iteration of its Kindle e-book reader. Despite only being on the market for five weeks, the new Kindle is the firm’s best-selling device (no doubt thanks to the lowered price tag subsidized by the ads that appear while the thing is in standby mode).
If you’ve followed the tech scene over the last decade, this really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Just as more adaptable mammals overtook the dinosaurs, and .mp3s overtook compact discs, it seems that books stored in sub-1MB, glorified text files have overtaken professionally bound bundles of ink-laden paper.
I doubt this will actually kill books — people still listen to Zeppelin on vinyl, after all — but it does officially move us one step closer to the glorious/horrifying technofetishist future promised by so many novels, films, and confusingly sexy anime series.