The Lost Symbol: The eBook Tipping Point?

September 17, 2009


I don’t even know if that’s the proper cover for it. Someone in Comments informs me the pirate eBook version I screensnapped is of a non-U.S. edition. I didn’t look at the pirate edition beyond what I snapped — and no longer possess it (I really did delete it!).

There was much chatter on the Net yesterday about this book outselling the print edition in terms of sales from Amazon.

I initially discounted those as being wishful thinking.

Now I’m not so sure.

Because no one knows how many “Kindles” are really out there now.

I put “Kindles” in quotes deliberately because what people tend to forget is that an iPhone and iPhone Touch are now “Kindles” too, thanks to Amazon’s Kindle reading software.

There are fifty million of those devices out there. Thirty and twenty million, respectively.

Stanza Reader is on at least two million (probably more) of those devices. And that’s software that basically became known via the Internet echo chamber.

While just about everyone on the planet knows about the Kindle, so Amazon didn’t have to explain what a Kindle application would do or why someone would want to have it. With that kind of marketing blitz, I expect there have been millions and millions of downloads of it.

How many, only Amazon (and Apple) know.

It’s worth keeping this post from Shortcovers in mind while contemplating this possible development: Dan Brown is the New King of eBooks. Some excerpts:

In just one day, Dan Brown’s new book, The Lost Symbol, sold more eBook copies than the last one and a half months of Stephanie Meyer’s hit Twilight series.


This will easily be the biggest eBook of the year, and perhaps the biggest eBook so far. Everyone who has been watching the eBook space (publishers, retailers, device manufacturers…) will no doubt be using Dan Brown as a proxy for what eBooks will do to physical book sales, and how to size the overall opportunity.


Most purchases were made on the web. Mobile purchases by platform: 37% iPhone, 31% Palm Pre, 29% Blackberry, 3% Android. Web sales were driven by our brand new feature (Adobe/ePub) enabling a customer to buy an eBook with us and download it to their desktop, eReader or smartphone.


Yesterday beat our biggest sales day by almost 2X, and the same day last week by 3X.

We won’t know what the eBook sales have been unless its publisher decides to bray about them. This is competitive intelligence they might wish to keep to themselves. It could, however, leak out.

We can’t yet say this is good for all eBooks. It could be an anomalous spike created by hype.

What we definitely can say is that Amazon’s grip on eBooks has gotten tighter and its negotiating position more powerful versus all print publishers. That alone is not a good thing.