Tipping point: Amazon announces that e-book sales have outstripped book books for 3 months straight

It looks like the book hugging crowd might have to come to terms with a decidedly looming digital future: Amazon announced Monday that e-book sales have outstripped those of their paper and cover counterparts for three months running, and dramatically.

For every 100 books made from dead trees that Amazon moved, 143 digital books were cleanly and neatly downloaded to Kindles, iPhones, PCs, Macs, BlackBerrys and Androids. While all those paper books had to be physically processed and wrapped in more bad for the environment waste type things, the digital copies were beamed almost instantaneously to e-readers and enabled devices. No trees were harmed, no gas-guzzling trips to the shops were made and no plastic bags nor receipts joined the transaction.

If you’re still stuck on the (let’s face it, rather musty and unpleasant) smell of books, or the tactile sensation of rubbing your fingers over a page countless people have pored over while on the john, your days of physical book reading are probably ever dwindling. (Although, for those who have embraced e-books, the lamentations regarding the difference in media are sure to continue for decades at least and are just gaining steam.)

Mike Shatzkin spoke to the Times about the coming shift toward an e-book dominated publishing industry and said that Kindle held up well against iPad because users she the devices as complimentary, not mutually exclusive. Combined with flood of content for the books and price wars on devices, Amazon’s got a fairly strong grip on the e-book market:

One reason Kindle book sales have held their own is that owners of iPads and other mobile reading devices buy Kindle books, which they can read on computers, iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys and Android phones. But, except for the free uncopyrighted books, Kindle owners must buy or download content via Amazon. “Every time they sell a Kindle, they lock up a customer,” Mr. Shatzkin said.

Analysts say they believe that the news from Amazon could improve performance of Amazon’s stock (-16% in the past three months) due to fears the iPad would dent sales.

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