The book is dead, long live the e-book

(AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR)

(AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR)

Relaxnews

, Last Updated: 6:20 PM ET

Amazon's quarterly earnings figures show the market for e-books has never been greater, while the market for their printed counterparts has never been smaller.

It's official: e-books are now a multi-billion-dollar business, and if Amazon's effervescent CEO is to believed, this new market is due to Amazon and its loyal customer base.

"We're now seeing the transition we've been expecting," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. "After 5 years, eBooks is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast -- up approximately 70% last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just 5%. We're excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever expanding ecosystem and selection."

There is no doubting the impact that digital books have had on the publishing industry. Barnes & Noble, Amazon's largest direct competitor in terms of books sales, announced on Monday that it will be closing 30% of its physical stores over the next decade as it continues its move into electronic publishing, e-readers and tablets.

Apps in, e-readers out

Amazon has put the growth of the market down to its Kindle e-readers, but the company's focus on developing Kindle apps that work on iPhones, iPads and Android tablets could prove just as important as the market grows. The latest data from ABI Research shows that while tablet sales show no sign of abating, the market for e-readers is. And, contrary to popular belief, it is not because tablets are cannibalizing their sales; it's because almost everyone who wants an e-reader, has an e-reader.

"The facts are that the US market continues to dominate eReader shipments and an aging Baby Boomer population looking to replicate the print reading experience is a waning audience," said ABI's senior practice director Jeff Orr of the figures, published on Jan. 23. "If other world regions do not successfully organize digital publishing markets, the dedicated eReader market will go away without regard for adoption of tablets and other mobile devices."


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