Kindle: Amazon’s New Best-Seller

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It’s official: the Kindle is now the best selling item on Amazon.com, almost exactly three years after the online retailer first launched the e-reader.

Amazon (Stock Quote: AMZN) announced Monday that the Kindle had finally sold enough copies to beat out the reigning sales champion on the site, the seventh Harry Potter book by J.K. Rowling.

Then again, to be fair to Ms. Rowling, it was never really a fair fight. Ever since Amazon introduced the Kindle, the company has promoted it shamelessly on the site, offering it premier placement on the homepage every day and periodically e-mailing shoppers to remind them of how awesome it is.

Still, the subtext of this announcement seems clear: People really do like the Kindle, despite many naysayers recently who predicted the device would flop in the face of competition from new e-readers and tablets like the iPad.

"We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com (and chief Kindle enthusiast). “Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions.”

But despite this victory announcement, Bezos and Amazon remain decidedly vague about just how many Kindles have been sold. The company has long cited the need to keep these figures a secret from competition, and only said in the press release that millions of customers had bought the product.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped industry analysts from speculating about sales. Most estimates do show an upward progression, with Amazon selling between 200,000 to 500,000 Kindles in the first year and some 2 million Kindles in 2009. Now, by the most generous estimates, the Kindle may sell as many as 8 million copies by the end of this year, thanks in part to a drop in the price.

If that proved true, it would mean the Kindle is in the same ballpark as the iPad, which was estimated to have sold about 7.5 million copies prior to the holiday season.

But then again, there are a couple of caveats here. Amazon’s product has been around for several years, meaning it had extra time to build a following, play with prices and adjust features based on consumer feedback. And yet, even by the most generous estimates, its sales are still somewhere behind the iPad, which has only been around since April.

So congratulations to Kindle for being #1 on Amazon, but it seems you still have a long way to go toward beating the competition elsewhere.

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