Paper is passe: A message in it for newspapers

Spare a thought for the humble hardback this Christmas. It seems the traditional giftwrapped tome is being trumped by downloads, after Amazon customers bought more e-books than printed books for the first time on Christmas Day.

As people rushed to fill their freshly unwrapped e-readers – one of the top-selling gadgets this festive season – the online retailer said sales at its electronic book store quickly overtook orders for physical books. Its own e-reader, the Kindle, is now the most popular gift in Amazon's history.

British publishers have also been exploring the market for electronic versions of books in the hope of enjoying strong sales when e-book stores and reading devices achieve critical mass in the coming years.

The Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury made the 2009 Wisden Cricketers' Almanack available as an e-book for the first time this year, while Penguin has been selling a range of its classics in electronic form with extra features such as contemporary recipes.

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