So Kindle Nation Daily has an interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (via PV). Of course he's very vague and gives no numbers. ("eBooks have become a huge fraction of the books sold," but how huge, Jeff, how huge?) I would love for some indication of how self-published books are doing, but given Amazon's secretive culture, I guess we have to take what we can get.
The other thing to remember is that CEOs are masters of spin--that's pretty much a job requirement--so you kind of have to take what they say (we are wonderful people! our growth has no limits!) with a grain of salt. But there was still some stuff I found interesting, namely:
[Jeff Bezos:] We do still offer our 3G version of the Kindle. And that is a very popular choice, in fact people who buy that Kindle are the people who read the most.
[Len Edgerly, the interviewer:] Why do you think that is?
JB: I suspect it’s probably some that they are the more serious readers, so they want the very best Kindle. But we also see that their reading increases even more than people who buy the other Kindles. And the reason, I think, for that is that it makes getting books even more frictionless, makes it even easier. You don’t have to look for a WiFi hotspot. You can just get them wherever you happen to be. And it roams globally at no charge, so people can figure that out, too, and get it wherever they are, even if they’re traveling around the world.
LE: It’s amazing how that small of an additional convenience would translate into more sales and reading.
JB: Exactly right, and we see this in everything. Many years ago we did this thing called One-Click Shopping, and tiny, little improvements can drive people to do more of something, just because you’re making it easier.
This is what the people who wail about the decline in literary culture are missing. If you actually want people to read, it's not helpful to have books be expensive, and it's not helpful to have a system where you have to go a specific kind of store in order to purchase a book. If you make reading harder to do, fewer people will do it--they'll turn on the TV instead.