Why won’t Amazon say how many Kindles it’s sold?
Something about returning from the Christmas holidays makes people want to show off what they received – a new sweater donned, a new gadget subtly pulled out at meetings, a few extra pounds padding the belly.
Jeff Bezos doesn’t like this tradition. He will hint at the generous present that consumers gave to Amazon in the form of surprisingly strong sales, but he won’t offer details.
Bezos wants you to know that his Kindle – the e-book reader that has done a remarkably good job surviving in the age of the iPad – was Amazon’s “bestselling product of all time.” How many Kindles did Amazon sell? We don’t know because Amazon isn’t saying.
What Amazon does say is that the third generation of the Kindle surpassed even the number of Harry Potter 7 books it sold. Which is kind of disingenuous because Kindles are sold primarily through Amazon, while Harry Potter books are available in nearly every bookstore. But it does offer a hint: Some 5 million copies of Harry Potter have sold on Amazon since 2007, one analyst estimates.
Usually, analysts step in to offer sales figures that Amazon won’t. But in the case of the Kindle, they can’t seem to agree. One reckons Amazon has sold 5.4 million Kindles in 2010, while another pegs that number at 8 million.
Either number is impressive, so why doesn’t Amazon share it? Over on Quora, a former Amazon employee suggested it’s because the disclosure would help Amazon’s competitors. But nobody sells Kindle’s but Amazon, and few e-readers are even close to it in sales, unless you count the iPad.
But the iPad is a tablet, and the cheapest version of the iPad costs four times Kindle’s $139 price tag. Besides, Apple makes a point in bragging about how many iPads, iPod Touches and iPhones it sells each quarter, and it only seems to fuel sales.
Consumers like to buy hit products: It might even help Kindle sales if Amazon disclosed just how many it’s selling.