Amazon: Soft-books Outsell Hard-books

Amazon ( has reported that they sold more soft-books than hard-books in the Christmas buying period. For those that are a little confused about soft- and hard-books, as my primary passion is taking photographs, following is a photograph that hopefully helps to sort this problem out.


For those not paying attention, the hard-book is the big printed book called “Texas” and written by James A. Michener. The soft-book(s), which cannot really be seen, are contained on the pink 4GB USB memory stick that is on top of Mr Michener’s book. This 4GB $20.00 memory stick contains (or could contain, if it actually had some soft-books on it) about 2,000+ full sized books (depending on size and contents—pictures, etc.,).

The obvious next question is, or should be: "How do you read soft-books?"

There are a number of ways of reading soft-books. They can be read on a computer or by using a number of hand-held POD style devices, including the Apple iPhone and iTouch. But more and more people in-the-know are turning to purpose built soft-book readers like the Kindle or the Nook.

By far and away, at this point, the most popular soft-book reader, or e-book reader as they call them, is the Kindle. The Kindle Reader has been available in the USA for about two years now and was introduced into Australia about mid-2009.

Just so you have some idea what I am referring to, the following is a montage of some Kindle Reader images from the Web.

These pictures are of the ‘standard’ Kindle e-book reader. The picture to the left shows a person reading an e-book on the Kindle. The middle picture shows how thin the Kindle Reader is. And the final picture on the right is of another model of the reader. There are smaller and larger versions of the Kindle Reader.

To give you some idea of the cost the larger and most expensive Kindle DX with a 9.7” display is about US$500 from Amazon.

Why Read an e-Book?

So; why would you buy and read an e-book when a perfectly good paper and ink version of the book, or newpaper, or magazine is available? There are actually a number of really good reasons, which sort of surprised me a bit. Following is just a small selection of reasons for thinking about e-books with an e-book reader like the Kindle.

It is lighter than a real book:   With the exception of very thin small books, the Kindle Reader is lighter than holding a book. And if you are reading a biggish book, like the hard-cover edition of James A. Michener’s “Texas”, then the Kindle is much lighter.

Easy to take your books with you:   The Kindle DX can hold 3,500 books, periodicals, and other documents in its internal memory (so say Amazon). So, where-ever you go you can take all your books and magazines and references with you.

Reading at night:   The Kindle display is an LCD. This means you can read at night without having a light on, and, as it is so light, your arms will not ache (as much) when you hold it up to read.

Text-to-speech:   If you get tired of reading but still want to hear what is happening, especially maybe in the case of newspapers or reference material, you can switch the Kindle to text-to-speech. The Kindle will then read the contents of the selected article to you—great for studying.

Zoom:   Want to zoom down into a map or diagram in some reference material? The Kindle does this. Want to make the text on the page bigger so you don’t have to go and get your glasses? The Kindle does this.

e-Books are cheaper:   e-Books are typically much cheaper than paper books. Current best seller books can be up to half price, and sometimes cheaper, to purchase as an e-book.

e-Books are available instantly:   Providing you have access to the Internet and a credit card, e-books can be purchased and loaded to the Kindle within minutes any time of the day or night. This can even be done over the mobile phone network.

Review and mark-up:   If the e-book file format allows for it, the reference or book can be marked-up and the mark-up or annotations can be saved.

Search:   All of the e-books on your Kindle can be searched. While this may not be a feature you would use when reading novels, it could be a very interesting feature when it comes to reference or study materials being reviewed.

If you are in Australia and you want to find out more about the Kindle then go here.

Eveyone else should just try and see if the Kindle is available for their country.

Just in closing off, although this post focuses on the Kindle Reader from Amazon, the Kindle is not the only e-book reader in the game. However, it is at this time, by far the most purchased, excluding the Apple iPhone which can, sort of, in a way, up to a point, be used to read e-books.