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Why won’t Amazon say how many Kindles it’s sold?

By Kevin Kelleher
January 3, 2011

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.

Comments
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I guess because they are less than analysts estimate. It is a sort of bubble. Anyway, I am a proud Kindle 2 owner.

Posted by lucaconti | Report as abusive
 

The opacity Amazon practices while putting out its famous “Best Ever” fluff PR releases timed to goose up the stock but at the same time being coy and only giving out teasers as to the actual Kindle figures prompts me to undertake this thought experiment:

What If Insiders engage in buying Kindle e-books to goose up earnings?

Amazon sells a combination of low margin/ high priced merchandise together with low-priced high margin e-books. Also, the dollar value of Insider sales of stock , mostly by Bezos, in comparison to Earnings, makes the manipulative action I am going to suggest a distinct possibility.

So far just in 2010 Bezos has sold $793 million of Amazon stock (and other insiders an additional $94 million) for a total by all Insider of $887 million. Now, during the past 3-quarters of 2010, Amazon has reported total earnings (before taxes) of $990 million.

Now, one can be sure Amazon has among its Kindle ebooks many “nobody ever heard of” high margin dud books which Bezos can download by the millions and goose up reported earnings. The amount thus spent is “just a cost of doing business” for Bezos as it would facilitate keeping the Amazon shares aloft at these lofty levels that he can sell into. (He has 88 millions shares left to distribute to the gullible masses).

This would permit Amazon the flexibility to sell a lot of high-priced merchandise at low or no margin and make the top-line seem super impressive. So, if Bezos were to “re-invest” just 30% of his take ($238 million) from selling Amazon stock for downloading the bum Kindle books for which Amazon might have, say, 95%+ margins, that would drop right down to the bottom line as $225 million of Earnings for Amazon which is 22% of the total earnings for the past 3 quarters.

For those who might hyperventilate when Amazon puts out the imminent “Best Ever” sales & earnings fluff release, the above possible modus-operandi should make you go Hmmm…

With all the dubious practices Amazon engages in (for example, abusing Sales Tax loopholes by setting up divisions with “Entity Isolation” legal voodoo), this may not be merely my “conspiracy theory”imagination. However, even if my theory is true, Bezos can play this game with impunity over many years (he still owns 88 millions shares). Remember how long it took for Madoff’s scheme to unravel? Therefore I don’t think this is quite yet a shortable epiphany and is merely “Think Like a Criminal” exercise.

Posted by krk | Report as abusive
 

The opacity Amazon practices while putting out its famous “Best Ever” fluff PR releases timed to goose up the stock but at the same time being coy and only giving out teasers as to the actual Kindle figures prompts me to undertake this thought experiment:

What If Insiders engage in buying Kindle e-books to goose up earnings?

Amazon sells a combination of low margin/ high priced merchandise together with low-priced high margin e-books. Also, the dollar value of Insider sales of stock , mostly by Bezos, in comparison to Earnings, makes the manipulative action I am going to suggest a distinct possibility.

So far just in 2010 Bezos has sold $793 million of Amazon stock (and other insiders an additional $94 million) for a total by all Insider of $887 million. Now, during the past 3-quarters of 2010, Amazon has reported total earnings (before taxes) of $990 million.

Now, one can be sure Amazon has among its Kindle ebooks many “nobody ever heard of” high margin dud books which Bezos can download by the millions and goose up reported earnings. The amount thus spent is “just a cost of doing business” for Bezos as it would facilitate keeping the Amazon shares aloft at these lofty levels that he can sell into. (He has 88 millions shares left to distribute to the gullible masses).

This would permit Amazon the flexibility to sell a lot of high-priced merchandise at low or no margin and make the top-line seem super impressive. So, if Bezos were to “re-invest” just 30% of his take ($238 million) from selling Amazon stock for downloading the bum Kindle books for which Amazon might have, say, 95%+ margins, that would drop right down to the bottom line as $225 million of Earnings for Amazon which is 22% of the total earnings for the past 3 quarters.

For those who might hyperventilate when Amazon puts out the imminent “Best Ever” sales & earnings fluff release, the above possible modus-operandi should make you go Hmmm…

With all the dubious practices Amazon engages in (for example, abusing Sales Tax loopholes by setting up divisions with “Entity Isolation” legal voodoo), this may not be merely my “conspiracy theory”imagination. However, even if my theory is true, Bezos can play this game with impunity over many years (he still owns 88 millions shares). Remember how long it took for Madoff’s scheme to unravel? Therefore I don’t think this is quite yet a shortable epiphany and is merely “Think Like a Criminal” exercise.

Posted by krk | Report as abusive
 

KRK seems to have an axe-to-grind. Did he short Amazon shares and lose a bunch of money? Hmm. As for me, who cares how many units of kindle are sold. It has got to be a boatload as it is one of the cleverest inventions and useful devices around. With the no-glare, non-LED backlit screen it permits easy reading in daylight and indoor lighting without the annoying glare of glossy screens. And it uses natural light – the kind our eyes were designed to use – instead of un-natural, harmful LED backlighting. I, and many of my friends are noticing a degradation of our vision since using LED backlit screens. Reading was tolerable on older laptops which used the flourescent backlighting, but it is intolerable on the LED screens. I have looked at the spectrum of the light and can tell you that the pseudo white light is made up of a blue LED light with a narrow=band, laser-like high spectral density which is forced through a blob of phosphor which gives off a warm wideband, orange spectrum, the combination of the two looking like white .ight. The fact that it ‘looks like’ white doesn’t mean it is. Reading books with that light results in eye-strain and I believe will result in impaired vision over the long haul. Just think about what even low-power lasers can do when aimed at paper (to the ‘unaware’ – they burn holes in the paper).

Posted by Eric93 | Report as abusive
 

We all know that the Kindle eBook Reader is a hot item right now. I see that it will continue to be. Amazon’s success is definitely of interest, but if they choose not to tell us how many, so be it. I love my Kindle 3G WiFi. I use it every day. http://www.kindle.co.cc

Posted by TeachReed | Report as abusive
 

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