Kindle 3G With Special Offers A Bestseller As Amazon Sales Soar 51% In Q2

Fueled by “accelerating” Kindle sales–especially of the Kindle 3G with Special Offers, which was released just two weeks ago but has already become the company’s bestselling e-reader–Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) beat estimates by a good margin in its second-quarter earnings results this afternoon. The company said it is seeing its strongest growth in over ten years.

Revenues are up 51 percent over this time last year, to $9.91 billion, while net income dropped less than expected, to 41 cents per share. Shares are up four percent in after-hours trading.

“Stay tuned” on the tablet: In a press call following the report, CFO Tom Szkutak did not answer the inevitable and immediate questions about the existence of a tablet or what its price would be. “Stay tuned,” he said, echoing Jeff Bezos. He was possibly even less forthcoming in the investor call: “We have a longstanding practice of not talking about what we may or may not do. Can’t help you.”

Growth and the Kindle: As usual, Amazon did not release Kindle sales numbers. However, in addition to the news about the Kindle 3G with Special Offers being a bestseller, the company said in its release, “Sales growth of Kindle devices accelerated in second quarter 2011 compared to first quarter 2011.” Worldwide media sales grew 27 percent, to $3.66 billion, or 20 percent excluding the favorable impact of foreign exchange rates. Szkutak said growth included “great growth in digital products, including Kindle.”

Operating income was $201 million, down 34 percent compared to this time last year. Szkutak declined to answer questions about the breakdown of operating expenses and how much money is being directed toward the development of a tablet or new Kindles.

Amazon Prime stats and streaming video metrics: Szkutak said it’s “very early. There’s not a lot I can share with you. We like what we’ve seen so far. We’re continuing to invest there. Customers love it. And it’s early.”

Growth in the U.S. and internationally: North American total sales reached $5.41 billion, up 51 percent. International segment sales, representing the U.K., German, Japanese, French, Chinese and Italian sites, were $4.51 billion, up 51 percent over this time last year, or 36 percent excluding the favorable impact of foreign exchange rates. The company saw particular acceleration in Japan, which is rebounding after the earthquake. As for China, “we are in investment mode,” Szkutak said. “We think it’s a very interesting long-term opportunity. We’re seeing nice growth there.”