Amazon Kindle, Year 1: 523,678 e-readers sold (probably)

Touted as the future of reading when it debuted, the Amazon Kindle e-reader has been on sale for about a year. I want to know: How well did it do? Neither Amazon nor its PR agency is telling anyone how many paradigm-bursting Kindles it's sold. Since they won't say, I will: Amazon has sold 523,678 Kindle e-book readers.

How did I get this number? Through careful research: I talked to industry sources and publishing consultants, looked at other sales figures, compared the Kindle to similar products, and did a lot of math. 523,678 is an estimate, not the real sales number, but Amazon and its PR company don't dare refute it, since that would require them to release that number. Until they do, I say that, to date, Amazon has sold 523,678 Kindles.

For the full story on how I got this number, follow the Continue jump below.

So. 523,678 Kindles. Based on my investigation and some research others have done, here's how I got there:

Amazon and Sony each get their e-book reader display panels from Prime View International (PVI), a Taiwanese supplier. On April 18, DigiTimes, a daily news subscription service that covers the Taiwan tech market, reported that PVI had been shipping 60,000 to 80,000 e-book panels a month and was going to ship 120,000 display panels a month for the rest of the year.

Let's say the total falls right smack in the middle of that — 70,000. DigiTimes further reported that 60% of these panels went to Amazon, 40% to Sony.

The Kindle has been out since mid-November 2007. That's nearly 13 months worth of sales. Sixty percent of 70,000 is 42,000. 42,000 times 13 months equals is 546,000. Figuring Amazon keeps its inventory tight, I made up a number less than 546,000.

Ergo, Amazon has sold 523,678 Kindle e-book readers.

New Math
To shore up semi-mythical math, let's make another, completely independent calculation.

The Kindle has been Amazon's No. 1 seller in Electronics, or close to it, since it came out.

Kindle has generated 7,200 customer reviews. A couple of months ago, just behind the Kindle had been the Garmin 350 portable GPS navigator, which had around 2,900 reviews. An industry source told us Garmin sells hundreds of thousands of personal navigation devices (PNDs) through Amazon.

Comparing these speculative Kindle and Garmin 350 sales numbers with their customer review totals, therefore, it seems reasonable based on my knowledge of Garmin sales and other Amazon sales:review ratios that one out of every 80 buyers posts a customer review. 80 times 7,200 equals 576,600, which is in my 523,678 Kindle-sales ballpark.

So I still say Amazon has sold 412,678 523,678 Kindle e-book readers.

Amazon, prove me wrong.