Apple Claims 180 Million iBooks Downloads

iBooks Makes BankApple said on Tuesday that the company has had 180 million downloads from its iBooks ePub book store. The news came during Apple’s quarterly conference call with analysts, and served to highlight Apple’s ongoing success with iTunes.

Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer told analysts that Apple customers have downloaded more than 16 billion songs and 650 million TV show. He added, “We’ve also been very pleased with the growing popularity of the I bookstore with over 180 million downloads of I books to date.”

iBooks was launched in April of 2010, just ahead of the the launch of the original iPad. The online book store put Apple in direct competition with retailing giant Amazon, which got its start selling books online. Amazon eventually introduced ebooks to the market with its Kindle ereader, and followed that with an Android tablet called Kindle Fire the company will shop later this fall.

Apple didn’t offer a dollar amount for its iBooks sales, nor did it quantify the number of units sold versus the number of units downloaded. Some books are downloaded to multiple devices per account, and some of the titles available on iBooks are free. Apple has never specified what it determines as a “download” from the many facets of its iTunes store.

We noted, however, that Apple also said it has now sold 40 million iPads. 180 million iBooks downloads means that the company is so far averaging 4.5 iBooks per iPad sold, though those numbers are skewed by several factors.

For one thing, iBooks can also be read on iPhone, making the iBooks-per-iPad number a rough estimate, at best. Also, if you want to look at the number of books sold per iPad, 11.12 million iPads were sold just in the last quarter, that’s more than a quarter of all iPads sold, and those owners haven’t had time to download many iBooks yet.

In other words, iBooks has taken off and has positioned Apple as a significant book retailer, despite Apple’s late entry into the market when compared to Amazon.