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Shifting reading habits

New figures last week from Amazon.com suggest that the bookseller’s customers are ready and willing to make the move to digital.

In each of the last three months, Amazon reports that sales of books for its Kindle e-reader have outpaced the sale of hardcover books, and that growth is only accelerating, according to  Mashable.com.

E-book sales topped hardcover briefly last year, but these are sustained numbers over the course of a quarter.

Some of the increase — 163 percent in the month of May and 207 percent year-to-date through May — can be attributed to a price cut for the Kindle. But that’s not the whole story since Amazon makes its e-books available through apps on other devices.

It’s no coincidence that the uptick also coincides with the launch of the iPad, which sold 3 million units in its first three months, two of which are included in Amazon’s numbers.

The shift at Amazon is “astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement.

Amazon doesn’t say how many digital books it sold during any of the periods it cites. As of early June, Apple said it had sold 5 million books and had already gained about a quarter of the digital book market.

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