Amazon is notorious for intentionally vague sales figures. "The Kindle is the top selling item on Amazon.com," it is always boasting, but never really offers concrete figures about what that means. So paidContent's "unearthing" of an email from Amazon Publishing VP Jeff Belle to literary agents is more interesting than it might seem on the surface. It's a rare glimpse at actual Amazon sales figures:
"Since December, our Thomas & Mercer imprint has sold over 250,000 copies of Ed McBain's classic 87th Precinct series (available for the first time in digital)."
There are plenty of slightly more vague figures about other books, and as writer Laura Hazard Owen points out, Belle does distinguish between print and digital sales. But why should he?
Owen also points out that Amazon Publishing's print sales lag behind its digital sales. For most authors, 250k books sold is a big deal, no matter the format. And frankly, I'd be surprised if Amazon wasn't pushing its Kindle versions harder than its print versions. Without all those pesky overhead costs of legacy publishers - and with the ability to set its own prices - and a vested interest in the success of digital books, why the heck wouldn't Amazon want to see its digital versions outsell its print versions?