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Amazon: e-book purchases push past paper

Folk favour electronic convenience in the convenience

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Amazon.com's UK wing claims its British customers are now buying more e-books than printed-on-paper editions.

According to the online retailer, for every 100 print books sold in 2012 so far, 114 electronic tomes have been purchased. That, it notes, includes sales of paperbacks and hardbacks that lack an equivalent e-edition. The figure doesn't include freebies, either.

Expect the electronic:paper ratio to rise further as punters buy books to read on holiday. E-books also make reading rude novels on public transport more discreet. Still, gift buying at Christmas may swing the balance the other way.

Whether this trend will continue in the longer remains to be seen, however. Anecdotally, a lot of the folk we know who get new Kindles - or use Amazon's Kindle app on iDevices or Android kit; Amazon's stats make no distinction between types of hardware - go on immediate e-shopping sprees, loading up with more than enough reading matter to last them a goodly while.

That's true of buyers of other e-book readers, of course, since most of these machines now make it a doddle to find, buy and download books.

The crucial point is that buying more does not necessarily mean reading more, despite what Amazon says. That's good news for publishers and authors in the short term - and it shows folk are generally happy to buy rather than restrict themselves to out-of-copyright freebies and torrent files - but may leave the industry hanging while punters catch up with their reading.

Or perhaps with e-books, books have become so ephemeral, people won't care if they ever get round to reading them all. ®

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