How Many Kindles Does It Take to Top Amazon Sales?

November 30th, 2009

I never quote verbatim from an entire blog post, but how could I do this one from the WSJ blogs any better?

By Andrew LaVallee said Monday that the Kindle is having its best month ever. As always, however, it didn’t say how many sales that amounts to.

The online retailer said in a press release that its e-book reader has been the best-selling, most-wished-for and most gifted item on its entire site for November, even before today’s (a.k.a. Cyber Monday) sales are counted.

The news also comes as Kindle’s competition struggles to get devices into consumers’ hands in time for Christmas. Barnes & Noble said Sunday that its Nook reader won’t be available in stores until Dec. 7, and noted earlier that only customers who ordered one before Nov. 20 would receive it for the holidays. Sony said two weeks ago that it would ship its Reader from Dec. 18 to Jan. 8 but couldn’t guarantee the delivery date.

As many have noted, those delays are good news for Amazon. The company, however, is notoriously cagey about Kindle sales, with executives typically saying they’re pleased with the device’s performance and growth prospects — nothing more.

Gizmodo’s take on the Amazon announcement cheekily broke down the steps to becoming a best-seller:
Step 1: Market a device for two whole years
Step 2: Issue a price drop a few months before the holiday season
Step 3: Remain the exclusive retailer for said device
Step 4: Profit! (To an extent that is completely and intentionally unclear to everyone!)
“Anyone who wants a Kindle and doesn’t normally shop at Amazon has to make an exception. Anyone who wants a Kindle and doesn’t normally shop online has to make an exception,” Gizmodo’s John Herrman wrote.

The lack of a numeric figure hasn’t deterred analysts from speculating on Kindle sales and the health of the e-reader market overall. In October, Forrester said it sees Kindle sales of 900,000 during the holiday season and 3 million for the year — up from an earlier estimate of 2 million. Piper Jaffray is expecting 750,000 Kindles to be sold in the fourth quarter, citing Amazon’s advertising and “fading” competition.

Goldman Sachs said that its holiday spending survey found that 6% of U.S. consumers plan to give an e-reader as a gift this year, and Nomura said it sees U.S. e-reader sales reaching $20 million by 2014.