Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock


Back in January, Kindle Unlimited had taken a little dip (which happens every holiday season), and the naysayer propaganda was in full force.

It’s now October. For the year 2016, Kindle Unlimited has beaten the propaganda.

  • Paying $0.00497 per KENP page read for September, Kindle Unlimited has been amazingly stable since February.  That’s 8 months strong.
  • Presently at a relative high of nearly half a penny per Kindle page read, the payout hasn’t suffered the continual drop that had been predicted. There have been some pleasant jumps, and not just with the September payout.
  • Here’s another cool fact: There are now 1.4 million books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. There were 860,000 books enrolled in February, 2015.  That’s an increase of over half a million books in 1.5 years (a 60% increase). Remember all the stories about indie authors running for the hills? The data shows otherwise.
  • My favorite number is $15.9 million. That’s the KDP Select Global Fund for September, 2016, another of many record highs. Amazon continues to pay more and more money in Kindle Unlimited royalties. Amazon will pay close to $200,000,000 in royalties for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows for the year 2016 (that’s aside from the royalties for the sales of those books; we’re just talking borrows), and that’s in addition to what they pay for All-Star bonuses (that’s right, the All-Star bonus isn’t taken out of the Global Fund, it’s paid in addition to it; I asked KDP about this specific point).

$200 million in royalties for Kindle Unlimited pages read in one year: That’s a significant share of the e-book market, and a rather indie-friendly share, too.

The continued rise in the KDP Select Global Fund and a fairly stable payout of just under a half-penny per page (though it will probably take its usual dip in December and January, and then likely return next February) suggest that the Kindle Unlimited customer base continues to grow. A great sign.

With 1.4 million books to choose from, with nearly 50,000 added just in the last 30 days, there is also growing competition for this customer base. The way to deal with the increased competition is to keep writing, try to write better, and try to improve your marketing skills. Competition is a good sign. It helps to bring in more customers, and it shows that this market is worth competing for. Good writing and marketable ideas help to provide good long-term prospects.

Celebrate Great Indie Writing with the #PoweredByIndie Hashtag in October, 2016

You can find some great indie writing in Kindle Unlimited, for example.

Many of those 1.4 million books were self-published. There are 100,000 or so traditionally published books in the mix, too; it’s not exclusive to self-publishing. But indie authors have really helped to make Kindle Unlimited strong enough to attract and grow a significant customer base.

Kindle Unlimited, in a strong way, really is #PoweredByIndie. But we must also give credit to Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Amazon’s imprints, and other great titles, too, to help attract customers. It’s great writing that attracts customers, regardless of how it is published.

Strive for great writing and good things are bound to happen.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

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6 comments on “Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie

  1. Pingback: Kindle Unlimited vs. the Naysayers #PoweredByIndie | JUST WRITE IT!

  2. I just realized that I can change my price on KU any time I want – such as to put it on sale for Fussy Librarian. It may affect my ability to run a Kindle Countdown (30 days before and 14 after at the same price, I believe), but those aren’t working for me anyway. The one that’s going on has had exactly two sales at 0.99.

    I won’t consider using free – I think free is not working as well, and would be the kiss of death for a mainstream literary novel – but I can leave Pride’s Children in KU, and just change the price when I need to.

    I’m having enough trouble with writing with my slow brain; marketing has not worked. Yet?

    I’ve noticed an unhappy trend, though: four people have started reading PC in KU over the past month, and none have continued. With this odd thing about the page flip counting no more pages after going into the mode, I’m wondering if I’ve been affected. Any thoughts on that?

    • I haven’t noticed any issues with pages read for my books, though it doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. My feeling is that price alone isn’t likely to drive the kinds of books where quality is apt to be associated with a higher price point. In fact, I’ve sometimes had more sales in a week at a higher price point than at a lower one. I try to look at marketing as a very long-term game, though it can try one’s patience. I have seen a few books with slow starts eventually gain traction, so there is always hope. Good luck. 🙂

      • Thanks, Chris – I’m watching how this plays out, as the discussion on TPV brought up how Amazon is trying to get the scammers without affecting authors. I credit Amazon with working on this problem, and the problem of fake reviews, but scammers can be very creative – and it takes a while to catch each new con.

  3. Thanks for the numbers, Chris.

    It would be interesting to know how much of this impressive KU revenue went out to the handful of big name authors like JK Rowling and Collins, to the Amazon imprint authors, and to the scammers, rather than regular indie authors.

    It would also be instructive to know (in the future) how much of the pot is going to the handful of authors that will have their titles available for free Prime borrows which the vast majority of Select authors will not be eligible for.

    The latest Author Earnings Report shows clearly indie market share being lost to the Amazon imprints. All Amazon imprints are of course in KU.

    • Traditional authors like Rowling evidently aren’t paid out of the KDP Select global funds, since their books aren’t in Select. Their publishers must have negotiated special terms. The Amazon imprints, though, I’m not sure if their authors get paid through the Select fund. Their borrows are significant, so that’s an interesting question. Thank you for raising these points.

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