Amazon says digital editions are outselling printed books in UK

A reader using her Kindle e-reader Photo: Sandy Young/PA Wire

Amazon has announced that ebooks are outselling printed books in the UK for the first time marking a watershed moment in British publishing.

Customers bought 114 ebooks for every 100 paperback and hard covers, according to the online bookseller's unaudited results.

The figures include sales of printed books which do not have digital editions but exclude free ebooks.

Printed books - a thing of the past? Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

It is a remarkably quick shift for the publishing industry given that the Kindle - the most popular e-reader on the market - was only launched in the UK two years ago.

In the US, where the Kindle was first introduced, it took four years to reach the same milestone.

Jorrit Van der Meulen, vice-president of Kindle EU, said:

We hit this milestone in the US less than four years after introducing Kindle, so to reach this landmark after just two years in the UK is remarkable and shows how quickly UK readers are embracing Kindle

Ebooks have sparked a reading renaissance, Amazon says Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Today's figures also show that British users of the Kindle e-reader are buying four times as many books as they did before owning a Kindle.

The increase could not be put down entirely to the lower price of digital editions, since many of the most popular books were being sold at discount prices in their printed form.

Jonny Geller, the joint chief executive of Curtis Brown literary agency, told ITV News that while sales of paperbacks have dropped, cheaper ebook editions have seen a boost.

He added that since Amazon does not provide any exact sales figures, it is difficult to know how much of the overall book market its figures represent.

Ebooks have the advantage of being more mobile Credit: REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files

Ebook sales have been given a boost by the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. The trilogy of erotic novels has sold 31 million copies worldwide.

A spokeswoman for Amazon said the introduction of e-readers had sparked "a love of a reading and a renaissance" in the UK.