EXCLUSIVE: Amazon says ebook sales to overtake paperbacks by next year

Amazon has told Pocket-lint that it expects Kindle ebook sales to eclipse paperback sales by the end of 2011, and to eclipse combined hardback and paperback sales shortly after that in the US.

"I think we [Amazon] will sell more Kindle books than paperback books in the next year [2011]", Steve Kessel, the man tasked with making the Kindle the number one ebook reader in the world, told Pocket-lint in an exclusive one-to-one briefing.

"Sometime after that we will start selling more Kindle books than hard covers and paperbacks combined".

The news comes hot on the heals of Amazon announcing that it now sells more Kindle ebooks than hardback books via its US Kindle store.

One of the driving factors to that dramatic rise in popularity over a couple of years is down to pricing and Amazon's appetite for the format that is now available for phones, tablets and of course its Kindle ebook reader to succeed.

"All ebooks will cost less than the physical books", Kessel told us as he detailed the launch of the new Amazon Kindle store in the UK, before adding: "Customers believe that electronic books should be cheaper than physical books and we agree".

The move is likely to be welcomed by UK customers keen to save money by going electronic.

Kassel also believes the new Wi-Fi and 3G models launched on Thursday in the UK and the US will quickly become the market leader.

"I think it's going to be huge", Kassel tells us confidently. "We've been selling it for years in the US. It's been the number one seller in Amazon. We've sold millions of them".

"When we launched in the US years ago, digital ebook readers had existed before. I expect the customer response to be the same here in the UK as it was in the US".

You can pre-order the new Kindle now from Amazon, ensuring you'll be on the list when it launches on 27 August.

UPDATE: Amazon has now told us the price of the book cover - it's £49.99.