Amazon Sold More Digital Books Than Printed Books, And Other Shocking Electronics Sales Stats

kindle in box photo

Photo via robertnelson via Flickr CC

Looks like the switch to digital reading is more official than ever. Amazon reports that on Christmas day, for the first time in its history, it sold more digital books than physical books. Amazon also reports that the Kindle is "the most gifted item in Amazon's history." Not surprising considering it was on track to do just that as of November. But according to Forrester Research estimates, this is just the tip of the iceberg for next year. Digital reading is most definitely on the upswing
Forrester Research estimates that 3 million e-readers will be sold in the US during 2009 (only a few days left to finish up that count), which is far more than the previous forecast of 2 million sold in 2009. But that's just the beginning of the e-reader wave. The group estimates that the number will double, with 6 million e-readers sold during 2010.

These are just estimates, since Amazon isn't releasing exact numbers on their Kindle sales. But Forrester Research also estimates that Kindle has a hold of about 60% of the share of the US market, with the Sony Reader taking up 35%. That will likely change starting in January, when Barnes & Noble's Nook finally starts heading out to customers.

So...finally digital book sales outnumber hard-copy book sales. Now it'll really be interesting to look at the environmental impact of this switch as it plays out.

Now for a few fun - and shocking - facts about Amazon holiday sales:
Of the books sold, the most popular were "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin; "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown; and "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.

And just behind the Kindle in the electronics section were the Apple iPod touch 8 GB and the Garmin nuvi 260W 4.3-inch GPS. Amazon states, "During the 2009 holiday season, Amazon customers bought enough 8 GB iPod touches to play 442 years of continuous music."

That's not where the crazy electronics sales statistics end.

For the holiday time period alone, Amazon customers purchased enough shoot-and-share camcorders to supply 50 years' worth of non-stop YouTube watching. And apparently, there are plenty of computers going out to keep people watching those YouTube videos. The company reports, "If all the computers customers purchased this holiday were stacked one on top of the other, they would be more than twice as high as Mt. Everest."

Not scared by that? Consider that most of those recipients will be getting rid of their old computers. If they aren't donating them, then hopefully they're recycling them - but that's still a frightening thought since 75% to 80% of old computers from the United States wind up in Asian countries such as India and China, where recycling costs are much lower. And that only about 50% of a computer is recycled at all, with the rest getting dumped, including as much as 2 kilograms of lead per computer.

Sunshine is on people's minds as well, "Amazon customers bought over 50 times more Light Therapy devices this holiday season than there are sunny days in Seattle the entire year." But of course, if people actually went outside that might be alleviated - instead, they're inside with their Blu-ray players: "Amazon customers purchased so many Blu-ray disc players that if you lined them up side to side, they would stretch for more than 27 miles."

Another holiday season, another slew of e-waste to deal with.

More on e-Readers
Kindle Outsells Everything on Amazon...and Other e-Reader News
Barnes & Noble Nook e-Reader is Out and Ready to Wallop Kindle
Drool-Worthy Mag+ e-Reader Concept Shows Future of Magazines, But Misses One Giant Point (Video)

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