Amazon Ebooks Are NOT Outselling Paperbacks!

The publishing world was awash in seeming hysteria last week when Amazon issued yet another press release designed to promote the Kindle. The release stated:
“ customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books…”

Of course, those in the industry recognize that “hardcover” means just that – a hardcover / hardback book; not a paperback. When you look at the “news” in those terms, the impact is far less dramatic. In fact, it’s pretty ho-hum.

In response to Amazon’s latest press release, people not in the industry (and even some that are), may have automatically assumed, and some even announced, that Amazon’s Kindle ebook sales had surpassed ALL PRINT BOOK SALES (ahem). I haven’t yet seen Amazon clarify the facts but, gee, why should they? Their press release, of course, didn’t mention that paperback sales are still higher than Kindle ebook sales and their release got them the attention they were seeking.

Here are some blurbs taken from those who unwittingly misled the public when they used headlines that misquoted Amazon’s press release:

E-books outselling real books | Print is dead

eBooks Outsell Print Books, Amazon Kindles Celebrate

Amazon: E-books Outselling Print

E-Books to Outsell Print Books at Amazon
“…for the first time in history, e-books have officially outsold those in a printed format.”

Amazon: Digital books outselling hard copies

Kindle Books Outsell Hard Copies

Here are some who caught onto the facts and published the news for what it really was:

What Amazon didn’t say about e-books
“It was one of those great self-serving press releases that had a terrific headline and all the blogs and major newspapers jumped on it. Well played, Amazon. ”

Sorry Amazon, The Fact That Kindle E-Books Are Outselling Hardcovers Isn’t That Impressive
“According to Nielsen Bookscan, only 23% of total dead-tree book sales this year come from hardcover books. The rest are from paperback books.”

E-books Already Outselling P-Books?
“From this one could mistakenly assume that e-books were outselling printed books everywhere. Particularly if one misinterpreted the word ‘hardcover’ to mean ‘printed.'”

Ebooks outselling hard covers? Where’s the news?
“…I despise news that is manufactured out of nothing or next to nothing.”

eBooks outsell inky pulp – or not
“So although the implications in Amazon’s press release are that ebooks are outselling print versions, that’s not really the case. ”

Journalists should always remember that press releases are just that – released to generate press. If you use press releases to find or write stories, remember to look for the story behind the story, and never accept a press release at face value without thoroughly researching the statements therein. And, finally, take care to never (ever!) write a headline that may mislead readers into believing something that is simply not true.