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We knew that Amazon was making a killing with its $139 third-generation Kindles, but since the retailer doesn’t discuss Kindle sales numbers, it’s always been unclear just how well it’s doing.

Now it looks like the Kindle is set to surpass 8 million units sold this year, 60 percent more than many analyst predictions, two people familiar with Amazon’s sales projections tell Bloomberg. If true, it tells us that consumers are far more interested in standalone e-readers than analysts expect.

Analysts at Citigroup, Barclays Capital, BGC Partners and others previously projected that Amazon would sell around 5 million units this year.

The 8 million number is particularly impressive in the face of competition from the iPad, which has shipped more than 7.5 million units since it was released in April. In comparison, Amazon sold 2.4 million Kindles in 2009.

Ever since the newer Kindles were announced, it seemed clear that Amazon had finally reached a price point that would drive mass consumer adoption. Amazon announced in August that it was the best-selling Kindle ever. Given how difficult it was to find the new Kindle in stock once it finally started shipping, it almost seemed as if Amazon couldn’t make enough of them to satisfy demand. The company also cited the device as a key element in its revenue and profit gains this past quarter.

But as great as Kindle sales are, Amazon still seems more interested in pursuing the proliferation of the Kindle platform. The company recently showed off Kindle for Web, a web-based interface for reading ebooks meant to compete with Google’s recently announced foray into ebooks. With web interfaces, ebooks can be read on any device with an internet connection — no app, or Kindle, necessary.

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