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LONDON, Dec 30: Amazon says that its Kindle 3 ebook reader has become the site's best-selling product ever, and that on Christmas day more people activated new Kindles, downloaded Kindle apps and bought e-books than on any previous day.

The company announced that sales of the Kindle 3 had overtaken the previous record holder, the book of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, released in July 2007. That had seen 1m pre-orders online before it was published, and has sold more than 40m copies worldwide — though it is unknown what proportion would have been sold through Amazon.

The company has not released sales figures for the Kindle, although sources within the company told Bloomberg earlier this month that it will have sold around 8m Kindles by the end of this year. Bloomberg said the figures come from “two people who are aware of the company's sales projections”.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO said: “We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet” — referring to devices such as Apple's iPad, released in April. But, he added: “Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies and web browsing, and their Kindles for reading sessions ... Kindle's $139 price point is a key factor - it's low enough that people don't have to choose.”

The online retailer has always been reluctant to give the figure for how many Kindles have been sold, possibly because it does not want it to be compared with those from consumer electronics companies such as Apple and Sony.

But the numbers provided are around 60 per cent higher than the best guess provided by analysts, who reckoned Amazon would sell around 5m Kindles this year.

By contrast Apple is expected to have sold around 12m of its iPad tablets this year, having begun selling them in April.

Amazon launched the Kindle in 2007, but this year it made substantial cuts to the price, reducing the cheapest to GBP109 ($139 in the US) for the Wi-Fi only version, and GBP149 for a version with lifetime 3G data access.

Brian McBride, managing director of Amazon.co.uk, said: “The demand has been exceptional. At only GBP109, Kindle has been on the top of Christmas wishlists all over the country this year and we expect to see many people visiting the Kindle Store over the days that follow Christmas.” —Dawn/Guardian News Service