Kindle Outsells Every Other Product On Amazon (And What That Really Means)

Illustration for article titled Kindle Outsells Every Other Product On Amazon (And What That Really Means)

According to a breathless press release, the Kindle ereader is the "#1 bestselling product across all product categories on Amazon." That means it sold more than the iPod Touch. More than the Wii. More than Going Rogue. How? It's easy!


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!)

When Amazon tells you that the Kindle is the highest-selling product on Amazon, you're supposed to think of it as you'd think of anything else: as a strong, reliable metric in gauging how well a product is doing in general. The thing is, there is no "in general" for the Kindle. There is only Amazon. 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. The Kindle didn't outsell the iPod Touch—not even close.

It's worth noting that, as always with the Kindle, Amazon is not giving us any sales numbers to look at. They've consistently claimed this is to protect competitive interests, which led journalists, and the public, the consistently believe that the figure must be kind of embarrassing. But with this exceedingly proud announcement, Amazon has revealed at least part of their reasoning: good PR. To proclaim that the Kindle has outsold every other product in the world (on Amazon!) makes it sound like the device is, at the very least, not a failure. Which it probably isn't! But let's look at what we really, honestly know: The Kindle outsold every other products in its parent company's online store, which has an exclusive on the device. We have no idea how many units are sold, nor do we have any idea how many Amazon expected to sell, or how many they'd need to sell for Kindle to be considered successful. We know that sales have gone up during a heavy shopping period, but that's about it. It's a closed system.

In other words, we know nothing new. Well, except that a certain other book store with a noticeably similar strategy and much hotter hardware is just about to show up piss-drunk at the Kindle's Christmas party, to try to steal its girlfriend. [Press Release]



I still don't get it.

I can't see e-books as anything other than a marginally cheaper book buying club with a $200+ membership fee. oh, the membership card is very high-tech, to be sure. but still.

This is, to me, no different than Barnes + Noble announcing their membership club is the most popular item they sell. Which, yes, would be a bit odd.