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Million a week sold, Amazon says of Kindle

Online retailer Amazon says 2011 was the best holiday ever for its Kindle-brand e-readers and tablet computers.

Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday that people bought more than 1 million Kindles each week in December.

The company has never released specific sales figures for the Kindle. Since the launch of the first Kindle in 2007, this franchise has grown to include several e-readers and the Kindle Fire tablet.

The Kindle Fire is expected to be one of the first true competitors to Apple's iPad. Amazon says the Fire has been the best-selling product on its site since its introduction 13 weeks ago.

Even so, the iPad is still expected outsell all other tablets, including the $199 Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Inc.'s new $249 Nook Tablet. The iPad starts at $499.

The company also reported a rise in people giving electronic books to others. Kindle book gifts climbed 175 percent from a year earlier in the period from Nov. 25 to Christmas Day, Amazon said, without providing precise sales data.

While Amazon is losing money on every Kindle Fire it sells, according to IHS Inc., the device helps encourage the ordering of books, videos and other content.

Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in San Francisco, estimates that Amazon will sell 5 million to 6 million Kindle Fires this quarter.

"It shows positive momentum," Sebastian said.