The late Stieg Larsson has gone platinum in the e-book age, becoming the first author to sell one million books for Amazon's Kindle.
Larsson becomes the first member of what Amazon calls the "Kindle Million Club," honoring authors whose entire body of work has produced more than one million sales for the Amazon e-reader. The accolade applies only to paid books, not the 1.8 million out-of-copyright books available for free.
Larsson, who died of a heart attack in 2004, is best known for the "Millennium Trilogy" crime novels, comprised of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest." Amazon says all three books are top ten all-time best sellers for Kindle.
This is the second recent milestone for Amazon on the e-book front. Last week, the retailer announced that it sells more e-books than hardcover books. At the time, Amazon noted that Larsson and four other authors - Charlaine Harris, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts -- had all sold at least 500,000 Kindle books.
Of course, e-books still have a long way to go before catching up with print. From the start of 2010 until May, e-books accounted for 8.48 percent of all book sales tracked by the Association of American Publishers, compared to 2.89 percent during the same period last year.
But the big growth is happening now, brought on by price cuts to the Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook and Sony's Readers, and new competition from Apple's iPad and bargain e-readers such as Kobo. With Android apps arriving from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the pool of potential readers of e-books is getting a lot bigger. Lorraine Shanley, a publishing consultant and principal at Market Partners International, told the Houston Chronicle that she expects e-books to comprise 30 percent of fiction book sales by next year.
Here's the kicker: According to the Association of American Publishers, sales of mass market, children's and young adult books were down in May, and through the year-to-date, but the bigger markets of adult hardcover and paperback books are both up. Those are the same categories that I think would be cannibalized by e-readers, but it seems that both digital and print are doing well.
If publishers can keep expanding e-book offerings without losing too much ground in print, it'll mean more books for people to read on their Kindles, Nooks and iPads, and it won't be long before Larsson has a lot of company in the Kindle Million Club.