Amazon.com reported that sales in its North America media segment—which includes books, music, DVDs, magazines and software—rose 13.8%, to $2.27 billion, in 2003. Sales in the fourth quarter increased 15.7%, to $750.9 million. Sales in the domestic media group increased at a much slower clip than sales for the entire company; total revenue in the year increased 34%, to $5.26 billion, while fourth-quarter sales jumped 36%, to $1.95 billion. The company did turn its first annual profit in the year, reporting net income of $35 million, compared to a net loss of $149 million in 2002.
There was little mention of books in the company's year-end report, and a spokespserson had no comment on how books fared in 2003. The only book reference was the announcement that Amazon.co.uk has lowered its 30% discount offer for books from those with a £15 to £10 list price.
As usual, Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos attributed the increase at the company to lower prices and year-round free shipping, as well as added selection. Also contributing to profits was Amazon's third-party business, which represented 24% of unit sales in the quarter, compared to 21% last year. Amazon's customer count grew 26% in the year, to 39 million.
Bezos and other Amazon executives said they plan to continue to diversify the e-tailer's offerings in the year by opening new stores. Executives also said Amazon will increase its investment in new technology for the first time in several years.