Kindle sets new records for Amazon, e-book sales

December 28, 2009 7:38:09 PM PST
Sales have soared for Amazon's Kindle e-reader. Amazon says the Kindle is the most purchased gift in the company's history and e-books outsold paper books on Christmas Day for the first time ever. It is good news for some, but bad news for traditional book stores.

Steve Hilla is a new breed of book reader. Monday, he was sitting in a coffee shop, electronically flipping through the pages of an e-book on his Kindle. The e-reader has been a huge hit this holiday. Amazon's Kindle store has nearly 400,000 books available for purchase anytime, anywhere.

"The good thing about the Kindle is that you can wirelessly download books, the newspaper," Hilla said.

Ann Seaton is well aware of the growing popularity of e-readers. She manages Hicklebee's Children's Books in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood. Hicklebee's has a website and does offer e-books online, but for 30 years the store has been the heart of their business.

"There's still the people, like a lot of us that work here, that love the feel and the smell and the touch of a book," Seaton said.

That is especially true of children's books and their colorful illustrations, but not all book stores are surviving.

A gift and antique store just down the street from Hicklebee's used to be Willow Glen Books. It was a longtime fixture in the community until it closed in June.

Even big bookstore chains are struggling with the technology revolution.

Border's stock closed at less than $1.20 a share; Barnes and Noble lost value in December with a stock price under $20. Amazon, however, is celebrating Kindle and its December sales, with its stock closing at just under $140 a share.

Skylar and his mother know bookstores like Hicklebee's may be a dying breed, but it is one they will always make an effort to support.

"We've seen authors here and we are so excited that something like this still exists," Skylar's mother Melanie Black said.

Traditional books will not be going quietly or quickly. Even Hilla had a paperback next to his Kindle.

Amazon's Kindle will likely have some new competition next year. Many analysts expect Apple to launch a tablet computer, perhaps making the announcement at MacWorld on Jan. 26.


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