When asked directly by Steven Levy in Wired magazine “How many Kindles have you sold?”, Jeff Bezos gave a "long, loud example of his famous laugh" before replying “I know you don't expect me to [give an answer]".
I do expect an answer. There are too many of us dependent on those numbers. Piqued, I went through Amazon's press releases for the past few years, and gathered up these tidbits of information. I'm not sure they reveal much, except facetiousness and a love of algebra. Why don't they tell us more? You'd think they have something to hide!
iOS = 316 millionFor the record, Asymco recently reported that Apple said it had sold 55 million iPads to date, along with 261 million iPhones and iPod touches (all of which can run iBooks).
Note that S generally refers to sales of Kindle devices, B is number of Kindle books available. I've added subscripts when referring to smaller subsets of these groupings. O generally refers to other. Hover above any symbols you don't understand and tooltips with explanations should appear. Links go to original press release on Amazon with cited "data".
Can you discern anything useful in this data?
Sk > So12/29/11: Holiday Bestsellers, Amazon.com only Electronics: Kindle Fire; Kindle Touch; and Kindle
S > 1,000,000 * 412/29/2011: Throughout December, customers purchased well over 1 million Kindle devices per week
S > 2,000,000 + 2,000,00012/29/2011: customers purchased millions of Kindle Fires and millions of Kindle e-readers
Skf > So11/28/2011: the popular Kindle Fire remained the bestselling product across all of Amazon since its introduction 8 weeks ago...
S2011 = 4 * S201011/28/2011: customers purchased 4X as many Kindle devices as they did last Black Friday
Ske = 2*Spl10/25/2011: In the three weeks since launch, orders for electronic ink Kindles are double the previous launch. And based on what we're seeing with Kindle Fire pre-orders, we're increasing capacity and building millions more than we'd already planned.
SK3g > SOK
P3g = $1397/26/2011: Kindle 3G with Special Offers has quickly become our bestselling Kindle at only $139...
Sgk2q > Sg1q7/26/2011: Sales growth of Kindle devices accelerated in second quarter 2011 compared to first quarter 2011
B > 950,000The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 950,000 books
B > 900,0004/26/2011: The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 900,000 books
S > 2,000,0001/27/2011:after selling millions of third-generation Kindles with the new Pearl e-ink display during the quarter, Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on Amazon.com...
Sb = 1.15*Spb1/27/2011:Since the beginning of the year, for every 100 paperback books Amazon has sold, the Company has sold 115 Kindle books
Sb = 3*Sph1/27/2011: Additionally, during this same time period the Company has sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcover books
Sk3 > SHP1/27/2011: the third-generation Kindle eclipsed "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as the bestselling product in Amazon's history.
B > 810,0001/27/2011: The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 810,000 books
S12 > Sol10/21/2010: More new generation Kindle devices were ordered in the first twelve weeks of availability than in the same time frame following any other Kindle launch.
S > So10/21/2010: In addition, in the twelve weeks following the introduction of the new generation of Kindles, customers ordered more Kindle devices on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk than any other product.
Sk4 > Spl8/25/2010: more new generation Kindles were ordered in the first four weeks of availability than in the same timeframe following any other Kindle launch
Sb = 1.43*Sh7/22/2010: Over the past three months, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, the Company has sold 143 Kindle books
Sb = 1.8*Sh7/22/2010: Over the past month, for every 100 hardcover books Amazon.com has sold, the Company has sold 180 Kindle books.
Sb2010/2 = 3*Sb2009/27/22/2010: Amazon sold more than 3x as many Kindle books in the first half of 2010 as in the first half of 2009.
GSb > 207%7/22/2010: The Association of American Publishers' latest data reports that e-book sales grew 163 percent in the month of May and 207 percent year-to-date through May. Kindle book sales in May and year-to-date through May exceeded those growth rates.
Sjp = 1,140,000
Sjpk = 867,8817/22/2010: On July 6, Hachette announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books.
Sb > 2,500,0007/22/2010: Five authors--Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts--have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books.
B > 500,0004/22/2010: The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 500,000 books
S > 2,000,0001/28/2010: Millions of people now own Kindles
Sb =0.6 * Sp1/28/2010: When we have both editions, we sell 6 Kindle books for every 10 physical books.
B > 410,0001/28/2010: The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 410,000 books
Sn > So10/30/2009: November is already the best sales month ever for Kindle, even before Cyber Monday
S > So
U > Uo10/22/2009: Kindle has become the #1 bestselling item by both unit sales and dollars
B > 360,00010/22/2009: The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 360,000 books
P = $2997/23/2009: Amazon.com reduced the price of Kindle, the #1 bestseller in its consumer electronics store, to $299
B > 320,0007/23/2009: The Kindle Store offers more than 320,000 books
B > 280,0005/11/2009: the Kindle Store’s 280,000 books
B > 270,0004/23/2009: The Kindle Store offers more than 270,000 books
B > 230,0002/9/2009: More than 230,000 books are now available in the Kindle Store
P = $3592/9/2009: Introducing Amazon Kindle 2: $359
D > 012/31/2008: We’re particularly grateful for the unusually strong demand for Kindle in the fourth quarter.”
S < So
12/26/2008: Top sellers in consumer electronics included Samsung's 52-inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV with RED Touch of Color, the Apple iPod touch 8 GB (2nd Generation) and the Acer Aspire One 8.9-inch netbook (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB hard drive, XP Home, 6 cell battery), sapphire blue.