What Did Kindle Unlimited Pay for April, 2015?

KU Trends 3


In April, 2015, Kindle Unlimited paid $1.36 per Kindle Unlimited borrow read to 10% (and all Amazon Prime borrows). Looking at the graph above, Kindle Unlimited appears to have leveled off at about $1.40. (But there is a more fascinating number, which I’ll throw out in a few paragraphs.)

$1.40 doesn’t look like much compared to $2 in the days of Amazon Prime only (i.e. no Kindle Unlimited), and if you have a book priced $2.99 or higher, $1.40 is small compared to your royalty for purchases (in most cases).

That’s not the way I look at it. I was getting few borrows when it was Amazon Prime only, and my borrows have shot way up with Kindle Unlimited (without a corresponding sacrifice in sales). I’m earning much more with $1.40 per Kindle Unlimited borrow than I was when I was receiving $2 per Prime borrow.

But the more interesting number, in my opinion, is $9,800,000.

Amazon added a whopping $6,800,000 to their initial commitment of $3,000,000, bringing the KDP Select Global Fund up to nearly $10 million for April, 2015.

KU Trends 3b

The graph above is a good sign for Kindle Unlimited readers and KDP Select authors, in my opinion.

It means that the audience for Kindle Unlimited books has grown substantially and continues to grow.

The KDP Select Global Fund is increasing significantly because there are more Kindle Unlimited subscribers and more books being borrowed and read to 10% through the program.

Amazon paid $9,800,000 in KOLL royalty shares for April, 2015. That money goes to authors who had books enrolled in KDP Select.

Many KDP Select books are benefiting from this increasing payout. Obviously, not all books are, but many are. The potential is there, and many authors are benefiting from it.

The cost is exclusivity. But here’s the question: With the KDP Select Global Fund steadily rising from $2,000,000 to $9,800,000 over the past 9 months, would your book earn more money from Kindle Unlimited than it would from other retailers. It’s always been a tough question that can vary from book to book and author to author (and can only be truly known by trying it both ways), but it seems that the pool for KDP Select books is growing (it’s increased fivefold in 9 months).

Another interesting trend involves the number of books in Kindle Unlimited (about 100,000 of those are from small traditional publishers and are not part of KDP Select):

  • There are 963,814 books in Kindle Unlimited as of May 15, 2015.
  • There were 864,164 books in Kindle Unlimited as of February 17, 2015. This number has risen 12% in 3 months.
  • 43,407 new Kindle Unlimited books have been published in the last 30 days. (That’s about the same figure from February 17.)
  • 87,910 new Kindle e-books have been published in the last 30 days. Nearly 50% are enrolling in KDP Select.
  • There are about 3,000,000 Kindle e-books in all. About one-third are in Kindle Unlimited (whereas about one-half of new releases are opting in).
  • 334,615 of the Kindle Unlimited books are considered short reads (which, by the way, go up to 100 pages). That’s 35%.
  • 13,458 of the books published in Kindle Unlimited in the last 30 days are short reads. That’s 31%. The ratio of short works entering into Kindle Unlimited is actually decreasing, since 31% is less than 35% (contrary to popular myth—we now have proof that it’s not being flooded with short books, but that the percentage of short books in Kindle Unlimited is going down).

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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11 comments on “What Did Kindle Unlimited Pay for April, 2015?

  1. Interesting I got the Kindle April ‘fund’ updates email at the same time. Fund up to to $9.8 million what ever that means to us Authors? I also note from the link (For All-Stars, go here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2X66QXB12WV2.) That there are bonuses for ‘Title ranking’ – which ranking? Just the ‘top’-top or the ‘top’ of Genre? Has anyone got a bonus?

    • Authors can claim and check their author rank by logging into Author Central. The top 100 authors of KDP Select books in April received a bonus, on top of the money they already earned for sales and borrows. The 100 bestselling KDP Select books in April also received a bonus. One is based on author rank, the other is based on sales rank for individual titles. I have actually interacted with a few of the authors selected as All-Stars.

  2. An interesting post. Do you think Amazon throws around its millions figures to get authors involved? It certainly sounds persuasive, but as Max asks do any authors actually see the returns?

    • Amazon advertises a 95% or higher renewal rate for KDP Select, and this number agrees with data that I’ve tracked on Amazon (I look at the total number of books enrolled in KU in the middle of the month, and the number of new releases, and compare to the previous month’s figures). This means that 19 out of 20 (or it might be 29 out of 30, or better; it’s at least 19 out of 20) authors are content enough with KDP Select not to pull their books out of the program.

      • It can vary widely from author to author and book to book. I know authors doing very well, well, okay, struggling, or seeing very little. And often sales fluctuate by themselves, which complicates the analysis. Overall, there are a large number of authors doing well in Select, enough to make up for the exclusivity. But the hard part is predicting for a particular author whether or not Select will be the better choice.

      • As far as small publishers and self-publishing author are concerned, Amazon seems to be using the carrot and the stick at the same time. Select provides the possibility of a huge income with all those millions but ultimately little choice. As if writing wasn’t hard enough, now there are other decisions to make. Thanks for the feedback. It has been an interesting discussion.

  3. Excellent post (just stumbled onto your blog a few days ago and have been sponging up the knowledge, and THANK YOU for your post on Amazon Marketing ads) Anyhoo – my two pennies on this, having been in and out of KDP Select / KU since 2012. One thing I’ve noticed lately is the *type* of books that are predominantly available, namely – short / novella length and erotica. Erotica is one of the largest categories on KU, and a good chunk of those are novella (under 40 pages). This is both a good and a bad thing. The good – regardless of category, authors can now get 1.34 on average for their novellas that may normally only go for 99cents – 2.99 (I have some non-erotica romance novellas doing just this, and they’re doing it really well.) The bad – the pool is saturated with short titles that KU readers eat through like Timbits, meaning that the pool, while now filled with 9 million dollars (insert Dr. Evil laugh), is super deep. The money doesn’t go as far these days because there are so many quick-reads available, and KU readers seems to love plowing through them. Not complaining, it’s just a fact… and one I am taking advantage of myself by tossing my own novellas into the pool. 🙂

    • That may be true in erotica; I don’t know. I try to stay away from that genre. But overall, I have tracked the numbers, and only 31% of the KU titles are short reads; 69% are longer (100+ pages). Also, the percentage of short reads in KU is actually decreasing, not increasing, so it’s certainly not true that KU is being flooded with short books. Like I said, the numbers may be different within erotica, as I haven’t examined those numbers at all, but looking at the program overall, I have no anxiety over short works.

  4. Nice explanation, statistics, and opinion.
    The KDP Select Global Fund is, in my opinion, a awesome program.
    Kindle Unlimited subscribers are paying Amazon to pay KDP Select users.
    I provide service for KDP Select users and read all their books for just $5.00.
    Read more about it at my website – richardluk.com/amazon-kdp-select-earn-some-extra-royalty

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