Amazon’s recent statement about how massively successful its e-book sales were going should be regarded with some scepticism.

The online giant, which has much riding on its Kindle e-reader device, made the grand revelation that e-books were now outselling hardcover versions. But what it didn’t say was that these ‘sales’ also included the books it allows its customers to downoad for free.

Amazon: looking to get rid of this paper

Take a look on the Amazon.com site and you’ll find lots of free books listed including plenty of classics from the likes of Charles Dickens. It’s hard to imagine that these don’t account for a decent chunk of so-called e-book sales. Since Amazon operates in a rather opaque manner it is highly unlikely that we’ll be given the split any time soon.

Care must also be taken with the statement Amazon made about the growth rate of e-books tripling in recent weeks. This should not be confused with a tripling in the sales of e-books. For the non-mathematicians out there, let me tell you that these two figures would differ dramatically.

Jeff Bezos: fondles Kindle

It is likely that e-books will have their place in the market, especially now Amazon is having a decent level of success with its Kindle reader now that it has dropped the price of the basic model to $139 in the US and a little over £100 in the UK.

But the business should try and tone down its rhetoric a little if we are to believe anything it utters about its e-book and Kindle activities.