Amazon have a wonderful way with words. They manage to conjure up excitement without mentioning a single statistic. Everything in the Amazon press office is a comparison, totally devoid of facts. Below is the latest offering. I defy anyone to put an actual figure on the number of Kindles sold. Is it two million, ten million or even a hundred million? Has it sold more than cans of Heinz baked beans manufactured since November 1st? All we can deduce from the press release is that they've sold over two million and that this exceeds sales of the Harry Potter book. They haven't even told us how many copies of the book they sold, so we're left with a complicated algebraic equation.
Is the Kindle a bigger or lesser success than the iPad, or even the iPhone? Who knows. All we do know is that they've done a lot better with the latest version of the Kindle than they did with the previous two versions. I wonder why Amazon have this curious reticence when it comes to statistics. Apple, on the other hand, are quick to put sales figures to all their products and we are all duly impressed.
'Amazon.com today announced that the third-generation Kindle is now the bestselling product in Amazon's history, eclipsing "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)." The company also announced that on its peak day, Nov. 29, customers ordered more than 13.7 million items worldwide across all product categories, which is a record-breaking 158 items per second.
"We're grateful to the millions of customers who have made the all-new Kindle the bestselling product in the history of Amazon — surpassing Harry Potter 7," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO. "We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet. Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions. They report preferring Kindle for reading because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life, and has the advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye-strain, doesn't interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime, and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration especially for vacation reading. Kindle's $139 price point is a key factor — it's low enough that people don't have to choose."'
As a PR consultant for most of my working life and having written thousands of press releases in that time, I'd be pretty ashamed of this example of fact-free guff. To paraphrase Churchill, Amazon's statistics are a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.