Friday, 28 January 2011

The dawn of the paperless book

With the publication of its Q4 results, has announced that it is now selling more Kindle books than paperback books. In 2010, for every 100 paperback books Amazon sold, it sold 115 Kindle books. During the same time period it sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books. These figures relate to's entire U.S. book business and include sales of books where there is no Kindle edition but exclude free Kindle books, so they are conservative.

I love my Kindle - the reading experience of the Pearl e-ink display is pleasingly like paper and it consumes very little energy - with wifi switched off the battery life is remarkably long. The device is lighter than all but the thinnest paperbacks, too. Acquiring a new title requires no paper and ink to be consumed, incurs no transport burden and creates no waste. There's the embodied energy in the e-reader to consider, of course, but I plan to keep mine for a very long time and I'm a voracious reader, so that should mean the carbon payback won't take too long.

I've been in the office equipment industry longer than I care to admit to, and all that time I've been hearing about the holy grail of the paperless office. Yet in a single year, Amazon has made real the dream of the paperless library.

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