Kindles are very cheap compared to regular tablets. If only for consuming written media, then it is by far the most economic option, even when we account for the cost of books purchased on its platform. As such, it is unsurprising that its user base has exponentially grown all around the world over the last fifteen years of its market existence. So, how many people use Kindle today?
The number of Kindles sold is more than 100 million units at this point, which means approximately the same number of Kindle users. This, in turn, is equivalent to more than $80 million in terms of sales value.
So do e-books account for most of printed sales today? Which country has the most Kindles? And do such devices reinvigorate interest in traditional book reading? We’ll try to answer them one by one below.
How Many Kindle Devices Are Sold?
The officially reported number of Kindle devices sold is stated at about 20 to 90 million units. This is according to Amazon’s own sales reports, which also discussed projected growth and expected development.
Unfortunately, this information was published in 2018 and it is no longer available online, though still cited by reputable sources, such as Statista. What we can conclude at least, is that the number should be exponentially higher over its four-year gap. So in all likelihood, today’s Kindle sales very much surpass this figure, with a reasonable estimate that goes over 100 million units sold.
From a value perspective, this should be equivalent to almost $90 million, if we attempt to pinpoint a mean value based on Statista’s (Pew Research’s) growth estimates from 2019 to 2025. 
But we all know that Kindles aren’t the only dedicated e-readers available. Other alternatives such as Barnes & Noble Nook are also categorized within the same general e-reader statistics. That being said, the market share of Kindle is still more vastly huge compared to any other competing product. Even today, 70% of all e-readers sold in the entire world are Kindles. 
So even with Amazon’s sales figures alone, we can pretty much already track the majority of e-reader or e-book trends across the world with just Kindles. As it stands, the current 100-million-unit optimistic estimate would most likely shoot easily to 110 million units in just a year or two, given the additional demand for mobile devices in a post-pandemic indoor environment.
How Many People Read on Kindle?
In 2023 at least, it is estimated that there will be 1.1 billion e-reader users around the world. This is based on yet another extrapolated data point by Statista projected during the years 2019 to 2023.  This figure may seem initially strange at a glance, since it is far from matching its supporting device sales statistics. However, being a “user” is not really limited to having exclusive ownership of a Kindle or any e-reader. Many users might read e-books with the same device, or an older unit may be handed down or sold to another.
This also indicates that the e-books were accessed from multiple sources and presumably multiple times. A similar book might be read from two different units, or downloaded many times throughout the device’s service lifetime. It is also very possible that the statistic reflects no distinction between categorically different media that can access e-books.
Whatever the technicalities are for such a huge value gap, the conclusion is still the same: the e-reader market is still spreading out at a blistering pace even in 2022. Digitization at large still has plenty of room for growth, after all. Even if for some time, the adoption of e-ink technology was hampered by initially high costs.
But, how does this fare with the number of people that still prefer to read traditional books? Not that impressive, to be honest.
According to a Canadian survey from the Toronto Star in 2020, an overwhelming 70% still read print books, with about half of those not interested in e-readers at all.  Statista pretty much shows the same result for other countries as well (using the report mentioned earlier). For example, in Germany, 58% purchased printed books, while only 10.4% took the electronic version.
When you think about it, though, this result should be pretty much expected since…
Which Books Are Sold More: E-Books or Printed Books?
By far, printed books are still sold more than e-books. Normally with such impressive statistical growth data for devices meant to compete with books, one would assume that printed publishing is already well on its way out. But as shown by these ongoing trends, not quite. Even by Q2 2022, e-books only account for around 12.3% of local book sales revenue.  Physical books on the other hand, still dominate the entire U.S. market with a whopping 72.4% sales lead.
Some of the reasons for this are as follows:
- Negligible production difference (compared to e-books). Despite their physical volume, printed books are very cheap to manufacture due to the small industrial costs of paper and other related publishing materials.
- Many best-sellers often have genres that appeal much more to printed versions. While novels and non-fiction analysis are staples for e-readers, cookbooks and children’s books, which are much more ubiquitous, sell much better on a physical, printed medium.
- Printed books supposedly give a distinct experience in absorbing written information. Its enthusiasts also swear by the improved sense of fulfillment upon owning a physical copy of a book, as opposed to just saving a digital version inside a static, unchanging device.
- A printed book is not just considered a medium for words and information. They’re basically collectible items to aficionados. And like all collectibles, special spaces (display bookshelves) are often dedicated for their decorative placement.
- Teachers believe children still learn better with printed books. A vast majority of primary education institutions today still use traditional printed books, especially when it comes to subjects related to memory and language development.
- Old systems keep them as a requirement. For example, academic books sold by college teachers to students (as a compulsory requirement) are still very much a well-kept tradition today.
How Many E-Books Are Sold on Kindles?
About 191 million e-books were sold in the United States in 2020, a huge percentage of which is presumed to be bought on Kindles (within Amazon’s ecosystem). This is a statistical 22% growth value over the previous year. Sadly, this decreased somewhat in the following years, down to 8%. But compared to 2019 figures, this is still significantly higher, and is an indicator of trend, more than a general decline.
Combining the aforementioned sales report by Amazon in 2018, we are looking at almost 700 million e-books sold over the course of the entire lifetime of the Kindle. Keep in mind that these figures are made from separate purchases. Different accounts, for perhaps the same books, or different books for the same accounts. This does not include e-books that are simply transferred from one Kindle to another.
The stark irony to this, is that there were 750 million print books sold during the same year alone e-books achieved their 700 million total sales record. Same as the conclusion earlier, physical books still dominate the publishing market, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
What Are the Most Popular E-Book Categories on Kindle?
Fiction. Kindle bestseller lists are always dominated by categories related to fiction. For the top 20 spots among the competitive categories available, they are always a combination of romance, crime/mystery, science-fiction/fantasy, or horror/thriller titles. And out of the top 100 competitive categories, only 12 are non-fiction. This includes documentaries, memoirs, and biographies, among others.
In fact, this list doesn’t even have to be about e-books! Amazon, in general, has all these five main fiction categories as its most profitable genres.  Regardless of whether it is a printed book or an e-book.
Which Country Has the Most Kindles?
Without a doubt, the United States has the most Kindle units in the entire world. After all, it is where the Kindle revolution started, and its Kindle statistics are the most observed when analyzing global e-reader trends each year. Also because we know for certain that Kindles are the most popular e-readers by far.
But to be more specific, this conclusion is based on the fact that the United States has the highest number of sold e-books per year.  Younger users, in particular, are more comfortable and savvy with e-books, and so the country’s first-place rank is expected to go on indefinitely.
The reason? For the mere simple fact that English is the most commonly used language today by direct percentage. If English books sell well in print and paperback, then it should be the same even for digital versions. In fact, the next countries on the list after the United States are Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada, all countries with English as their main language.
One specific online ebook retailer, for example, even quantified its total U.S. e-book sales at 47%, followed by Australia at 15%, the United Kingdom at 14%, then Canada at 3.54%.  The rest of the world and all of its other languages are then mashed together at 27% of the retailer’s total e-book sales.
Do People Who Own Kindles Read More?
By general default, the longer the time that one owns an e-reader, the higher the likelihood of increasing its use frequency. So in a way, Kindle users do tend to read more, but don’t suddenly expect the device to produce bookworms. The increase in reading is affected by several distinct factors that can work independently from each other.
First, the medium might just be too convenient not to use more frequently. Within the same report by Pew Research, it has been observed that on average, e-book readers complete 24 books, as opposed to 15 books by the printed book consumer.  Switching from title to title in an e-reader can be done in a snap without hassles, supported by the fact that you can effortlessly “carry” them all at once.
Second, owners get used to the device over time, or it becomes part of their normal daily lives. About 41% of all participants in Pew Research’s survey said that they are now reading more after using e-readers for a year, and even 35% of participants who only used the device for six months claimed the same thing.
Lastly, this may also simply mean that buyers are attempting to put their reading investment to its rightful productive use. You decided to buy an e-reader, so you have to make good use of it by preferring to buy e-books over the paperback version (or at least buying them digitally first). It wouldn’t make sense to buy a Kindle if you intend to buy just printed books anyway, would it?
Did Kindle Popularize Reading?
Principle-wise, Kindle definitely popularized reading more. Of course, this does not mean that reading suddenly became one of the best trends on the planet after e-readers became a normal thing. But it did bring the activity into a modern era, in a day and age where information is always just right at your fingertips.
Because at the turn of the century, printed books are becoming more and more considered as “old-fashioned” when faced with the new electronic age of storing digital information. They may still be massively popular statistically (even today in 2022), but the younger generation sees it more as a classical activity compared to visiting websites, watching online media, or even playing video games.
With the newfangled “simulated paper” technologies provided by e-ink and capacitive screens, the traditional activity of reading becomes revitalized in a new form. Nooks and Kindles make it now possible to enjoy all the information-based benefits of books, without dealing with their inherent weaknesses.
And as we can see from the previous question above, this results in today’s users appreciating more and more the revolutionary device that they are holding. Is it simply the owner’s obligation that pushes them to read more at this point?
That’s up for the individual Kindle user to decide.