KINDLE UNLIMITED QUESTIONS ANSWERED
I researched the answers to two common questions about Kindle Unlimited. I obtained my data directly from Amazon.com, as I will show.
- Is Kindle Unlimited being flooded with short books?
- Are KDP Select authors dropping out now that the KOLL payment had dropped to about $1.40?
I hear a lot of speculation about these two points. Most of the answers are based on guesswork and emotions such as fear.
So I decided to find out for myself. I didn’t know the answer for sure. I researched the data and let the numbers speak for themselves.
DATA STRAIGHT FROM AMAZON
I gathered my data directly from Amazon. No, I didn’t ask them for it. I didn’t need to; you don’t either.
Rather, I simply browsed the Amazon.com website as follows:
- I visited Amazon.com. I browsed the Kindle Store. The left-hand column tallies numbers of books in various categories.
- On February 17, 2015 I did my first search. I recorded data for books in Kindle Unlimited, new releases, new releases in Kindle Unlimited, Kindle short reads, Kindle short reads in Kindle Unlimited, Kindle short read new releases in Kindle Unlimited, and many other numbers.
- I repeated my search on March 17, 2015, one month later.
- I compared the numbers. For specifics, see below.
(1) Are Short Books Flooding Kindle Unlimited?
In the Kindle store at Amazon.com, the left-hand column actually displays the number of books in Kindle short reads. If you click on the Kindle short reads link, it further breaks these down by page count. Kindle short reads have 1 to 100 pages.
Here is what I found:
- On February 17, there were 301,747 Kindle short reads in Kindle Unlimited out of 864,164 Kindle Unlimited books. That’s 34.9%.
- On March 17, there were 314,020 Kindle short reads in Kindle Unlimited out of 894,423 Kindle Unlimited books. That’s 35.1%.
This percentage is up slightly: 0.2%. But don’t panic yet.
Let’s look at another pair of numbers:
- There were 42,638 books added to Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days.
- There were 12,273 more Kindle Unlimited books in Kindle short reads on March 17 than on February 17.
Only 29% of the books added to Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days are short reads. 71% of books published and added to Kindle Unlimited in the past month have 101 pages or more. That’s definitely not flooding the market with short reads. (In fact, this 71% exceeds the 65% of books in Kindle Unlimited presently that are full-length books. Imagine that!)
However, 12,379 books were removed from Kindle Unlimited. If you account for this, there were 30,259 more books in Kindle Unlimited on March 17 compared to February 17.
Of those, 30,259 books, 40.6% were Kindle short reads.
(Furthermore, 23% of the books in Kindle short reads are 65-100 pages in length. Many of the short reads books aren’t all that short.)
What does this mean?
If 40% of the books added to Kindle Unlimited each month are short reads (100 pages or less), then the ratio of short reads to full-length Kindle e-books will approach 40%.
That means at least 60% of the books in Kindle Unlimited will be full-length books in the future, based on the current rate. That’s a majority that are full-length.
That’s certainly not flooding the market with short reads. There are currently 35% of Kindle Unlimited books classified as short reads, and this is approaching 40%.
Based on the current rate of growth (0.2% per month), that’s not too different from how things were back in July before Kindle Unlimited was introduced. It was nearly 35% then, too. If Kindle Unlimited changes the ratio of short books to full-length books from 35% to 40%, that’s not significant in the grand scheme of things.
You don’t have to worry about it exceeding 40% until the ratio of books added to Kindle Unlimited per month begins to exceed this. That’s not happening now. I’ll keep an eye on this number, but I’m not worried about it at this point; it hasn’t changed much in the past six months.
On the related question, “Are full-length books dropping out of KDP Select?” let’s look at the next question. It turns out that very few books are dropping out.
How about those really short books?
Only 4% of the books in Kindle Unlimited have 11 pages or less (and this number isn’t going anywhere either). Of these, many are short stories (and not “scamphlets”).
If you hear all the rumors about people trying to game the system with very short books in Kindle Unlimited, or the stories of websites encouraging people to do this, just discard it unless and until this percentage starts to climb. It’s just 4% and Kindle Unlimited was introduced way back in July; it hasn’t changed noticeably in all that time. We’ll keep an eye on it, but there is presently no reason to worry about it.
(2) How many books are dropping out of KDP Select?
There appears to be a 98.6% renewal rate in KDP Select, as I’ll demonstrate below.
- There were 864,164 books in Kindle Unlimited on February 17, 2015.
- There were 894,423 books in Kindle Unlimited on March 17, 2015.
- 42,638 books were added to Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days.
I subtract 42,638 books from 894,423 to get 851,785. That removes the new releases since February 17. (Actually, this number should be somewhat higher than 851,785 if you adjust for the fact that February only has 28 days. It will just make the renewal rate even higher.)
Comparing 851,785 to 864,164, there is a 98.6% renewal rate for KDP Select books staying in KDP Select. (The percentage is higher if you adjust for February’s short calendar.)
Only 1.4% are opting out, and more new books were added than opted out, which means the overall number of Kindle Unlimited books is climbing. (42,638 new books were added, compared to 12,379 that opted out.)
Amazon KDP has publicly advertised a KDP Select renewal rate in excess of 95% since July, 2014, and my data easily backs this up. Very few books are dropping out.
Note that some of the books that have dropped out are Kindle short reads! It’s not just the full-length books that are dropping out. 15,539 books were added to Kindle Unlimited short reads in the last 30 days, yet there are only 12,273 more books in Kindle Unlimited short reads compared to one month ago. The difference opted out of Kindle Unlimited. (So if you wish to claim that only full-length books are opting out of Select, it won’t be true.)
Two myths frequently rumored are absolutely BUSTED:
- Myth 1: Soon, there won’t be any good books left in Kindle Unlimited. With 98.6% of Kindle Unlimited books renewing their enrollment, and with many more books being added each month than are dropping out, this is an unfounded concern.
- Myth 2: Soon, the vast majority of Kindle Unlimited books will be short reads. Actually, 65% of the books in Kindle Unlimited have 101 or more pages, and 60% of those added in the last 30 days have 101 or more pages. More authors are adding full-length books to Kindle Unlimited than are adding short reads, so this concern is also unfounded.
If you haven’t already done so, please participate in a survey on how people read books. The more participation we get, the more meaningful the results will be.
Here is one question, for your convenience. (If you’ve already answered this before, please don’t answer it a second time.)
You can find more questions here:
Copyright © 2015
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
- Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
- Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
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