Although Amazon still resolutely refuses to release hard sales numbers, this week the Internet bookselling behemoth did reveal a milestone event—over the past three months Amazon has registered sales of 143 e-books for every 100 hardcovers it has sold.  This number includes all hardcovers, even those that are not available in e-book editions, and the trend seems to be accelerating—in June the ratio was up to 180 e-books per 100 hardcovers.


With Amazon dropping the selling price for its e-book reader the Kindle and Barnes & Noble doing the same with its Nook, it is clear that there are more e-book reading devices out there, though neither Amazon or Barnes & Noble has revealed the number of devices sold.  Perhaps a more important factor in the rise of e-book sales than the lower prices for the Kindle and Nook, was Apple’s release of the iPad.  Apple announced on June 22nd that it had sold 3 million iPads in 80 days.  Since the e-books that Amazon sells can be read on the iPad, it appears likely that the iPad has played a role in e-books overtaking hardcovers on the Amazon sales chart.


The effect of the growing sales of e-books (most of which are priced at $9.99) on the continuing decline in sales of trade paperbacks is not yet clear, and publishers certainly aren’t willing to make that connection yet.  But the trend is clear and with better versions of the iPad and other devices in the offing, it is obvious that the nature of bookselling in America is going to change.  The hardcover-first-then-paperback model may not survive this latest wave of technological innovation.