The arrival of the Kindle 3 and the Kindle WiFi means that Amazon’s lead in eBooks will probably increase. However, there’s a dispute brewing – Exactly how big of a lead do Kindle and Amazon have in ebooks?
Amazon says Kindle owns 70-80% of the market
We found out earlier this week (on Monday) that Amazon sells 80% of Kindle books to Kindle owners – though they do read on Kindle Apps too. Amazon is also pretty confident it owns 70-80% of the ebook market –
we’re pretty sure we’re 70 to 80 percent of the market … we’ve been very metrics-focused and we don’t typically throw out numbers we don’t firmly believe in
Well, Amazon seems to not throw out numbers if it doesn’t firmly believe in them or if it’s absolutely 100% sure of them. Amazon hasn’t revealed the exact number of Kindles and Kindle Books sold because they’re outside the perfect band of ‘firm belief’ that lies sandwiched between ‘have a vague idea’ and ‘absolutely 100% certain’.
Anyways, the moral of the story is that Amazon has enough confidence in the 70-80% figure to talk about how it has 70-80% market share.
RR Bowker says Amazon owns 61% of the market
This Friday RR Bowker made a claim of their own –
Places where ebooks are downloaded: Amazon still holds the top spot @ 61% while B&N has 20%
Library 7% and Sony 5%. ebooks.com 10%.
It seems that RR Bowker is counting some strange metric called ‘downloaded ebooks’ which encompasses free library downloads. No wonder the Publishing Industry is in trouble.
Why are they including free library downloads in these statistics?
How can you count free books when calculating market share?
There are other strange things – eBooks.com gets 154,000 people a month (courtesy Compete). Do we really expect it to have 10% of the ebook market? Half as much as B&N?
These are weak figures from RR Bowker. Apple iBooks doesn’t even make it – What happened to Steve Jobs’ hand waving and his 20% claim? Did that not even translate into 5%?
It seems Amazon is far likelier to be right than RR Bowker
You have to wonder – If RR Bowker is making strange claims including the claim that ebooks.com is the third biggest ebook company then how reliable are the rest of its figures?
Several Publishers confirmed earlier this year and at the end of last year that Amazon had around 90% market share. It’s hard to imagine Amazon going from 90% to 61% despite cutting eReader prices to $189 and introducing a new Kindle DX 2. If it was due to the iPad then how come iBooks isn’t on Bowker’s list.
The likeliest possibility is that not only did Amazon manage to sell Kindles it also managed to get a large chunk of iPad owners’ ebook purchases via Kindle for iPad. iBooks had 30,000 non-public domain titles. You can’t sell a lot of books if all you have are 30,000 titles.
In that case going from 90% to around 80% seems the most probable outcome. At worst, if you assume Nook sold really well, Amazon ought to be at 70% market share or a bit higher.
Interesting things from the RR Bowker Tweet-party
RR Bowker had a tweet party. Funny how everyone in Publishing can’t figure out how to convert ebooks cheaply or how to format and edit them correctly but they’re all experts at tweeting and twittering.
Here are the interesting and amusing factoids twittered –
- Kindle is now the #1 reading device with 40% market share while PC/Laptop is at 39%. So, now Laptops are dedicated reading devices.
- 49% of eReader owners received eReaders as gifts. This is probably going to increase now that we have a $139 Kindle WiFi.
- 50% of eReader owners mostly buy ebooks.
- The #1 place customers hear about ebooks – physical bookstores.
- Half the ebooks being downloaded are free books. That seems to be an underestimate – Every free book offer in the Kindle Store gets downloaded countless times and there are so many public domain titles.
- Heavy readers/heavy book buyers are not really buying iPads. What … you mean to tell us downloading 1.5 books a month isn’t enough to qualify.
- More men than women dislike DRM. That’s a separate post in itself.
- 21% of the respondents in the RR Bowker study said they were very likely to buy a Kindle or Nook or another eReader. 9% said they were very likely to gift one within the next 2 months.
- 44% of the eReader owners in the survey became eReader owners in the last 6 months.
You have to feel that at $139 and $189 Kindle WiFi and Kindle 3 might take over the iPod Touch’s role as ‘safe, easy gift’ for someone when you don’t have the ability/inclination to find out what they’re really wishing for.
With the Kindle 3 and the super cheap $139 Kindle WiFi now selling well Kindle is probably going to continue to dominate eReaders and eBooks.