First E-Book Hits a Million Sales

I knew e-books would be big. What I didn't know would be that they would get so big, so fast. On July 28, Amazon announced that Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has become the first e-book to sell a million copies.

It won't be the last. Stephenie Meyer and James Patterson are quickly closing in on what Amazon is calling the "Kindle Million Club" for authors who have sold over a million Amazon Kindle e-books. Charlaine Harris and Nora Roberts with more than 500,000 Kindle book sales each, will soon join them.

I doubt, however, that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the first e-book to cross the million copy downloaded barrier. Amazon after all isn't the only company to sell e-books. Barnes & Noble was also selling copies of the novel for its Nook e-book reader.

Long before either of those showed up though and started the current tidal wave of e-book popularity, there was Project Gutenberg with its over 33,000 free and public domain e-books. Project Gutenberg , and e-books, dates back to 1971 long before there were even PCs, never mind dedicated e-readers or popular entertainment tablets like the Apple iPad.

Today, Project Gutenberg averages about 100,000 e-book downloads a day. If I had to pick the first book to actually have gone over a million downloads, my best guess is it would be one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries such as The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Despite its long history, Project Gutenberg remains relatively unknown to the new generation of e-readers. Many books that cost money from the retail e-book stores are available for free on Project Gutenberg. I highly recommend that any time you want to read an older e-book that you check on Project Gutenberg before paying for an e-book. From classics, like Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice to the obscure, such as Benjamin F. Shambaugh's History of the Constitutions of Iowa, Project Gutenberg has something, free, for everyone.

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