Bye, paper. It's been real

The history of technology is littered with milestones, but some are not of much lasting significance. This, though, might be truly historic - remembered in hundreds of years as the moment paper began to give way to its electronic successors.

Just four years after Amazon introduced its Kindle e-reader, the retail giant says it's selling more Kindle books than paper books. For every 100 dead-wood books ordered from the site, people download 105 virtual tomes to their little plastic libraries.

This isn't a total surprise - last year Kindle sales surpassed first hardback books and then paperbacks, so it was inevitable the overall books total was going to be overtaken sooner or later. But the speed of the transition is pretty stunning, especially as - as is often grumblingly pointed out - Kindle books really aren't much cheaper than paper books, and are often more expensive. Not to mention the fact that few of the millions of old books are available in Kindle form.

Bear in mind, of course, that there are lots of places selling books besides Amazon, whereas the Kindle dominates the e-reader market. So if it were possible to add up all the books sold last month versus all the e-books, we think paper would still have the edge. Still, this is a memorable milestone on the path to a paperless future.

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