How many books were borrowed through Kindle Unlimited?

Image from Shutterstock.

Image from Shutterstock.


Amazon KDP now shows the number of pages read (KENP read, or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read).

The KDP reports no longer show the number of books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Although it’s nice to see the number of pages read, this data would be more meaningful if we knew how many books were borrowed.

That way, if you saw 200 KENP read in your report, you would know if 1 person read 200 pages or if 4 people each read 50 pages.

There is a way to get more information, though not quite as much as you might like:

  • Visit your Sales Dashboard at KDP by clicking Reports.
  • (Note the blue circle with the question mark at the top right. It doesn’t work presently, but it may be a sign of more information to come.)
  • Scroll down to the very bottom and click the Generate Report button.
  • Open the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (for example).
  • Scroll down to the very bottom of the spreadsheet.
  • Note that there are three tabs: (1) Royalty Report (2) Orders Report (3) KU-KOLL Unit Report.
  • Click on the middle tab, Orders Report.
  • This shows the breakdown of KENP read per book per country per day. (It also breaks down your sales.)

Unfortunately, the third tab (KU-KOLL Unit Report) stops after June 30. It sounds like what you want, but it’s not for July.

The middle tab (Orders Report) provides a helpful breakdown. But it’s inconvenient to get there, and it still doesn’t show you quite what you want.

Maybe this will improve. I’ve heard from hundreds of authors who would like to see the number of borrows in the reports.

But it doesn’t help to tell me. Visit Amazon KDP and click on the Contact Us button in the corner. It took a long time and a large number of requests, but reporting has changed in the past and we have pre-orders—authors have requested these features for years and they finally came. If you want something, ask for it. Otherwise, how will they know what you want?

Why doesn’t the report show the number of borrows?

There are a few theories for why the reports don’t show the number of Kindle Unlimited (or Amazon Prime) borrows.

Perhaps they just forgot or didn’t realize its importance. That seems doubtful. But perhaps.

Maybe most customers don’t start reading the book after they download it, and Amazon doesn’t want authors to freak out when they see several borrows, but zero pages read.

But that has an easy fix: Don’t show all borrows; just show borrows where the book has actually been opened.

However, what if many customers only read a few pages and discard the book. It could happen, since there really is no incentive for Kindle Unlimited customers to check out the Look Inside. Since they can read for free, they might just download it and skip the middle man.

It might not be a sign that the book is bad. It might just be a matter of taste. Oh, I didn’t realize this was a mystery. Oops! A mere 3 pages read.

Knowledge is power, though. If we see that most customers are only getting partway through our books, wouldn’t we feel inclined to try to make our books more engaging?

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

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
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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Kindle Unlimited KOLL Payment for September, 2014

Unlimited Reading


Kindle Unlimited paid $1.52 per download read to 10% in September, 2014.

This is nearly the same as August, 2014, which was $1.54.

Both are down significantly from $1.81 for July, 2014 (which was a partial month of Kindle Unlimited), and are down from the usual $2 or more from the Amazon Prime days (but customers can only borrow one book per month through Prime).

Update: Kindle Unlimited payments dropped further, down to $1.33, for October, 2014. It’s back up tof $1.39 for November, 2014. It’s further up to $1.43 in December.

To me, the big number is $2,000,000. KDP started the KOLL global fund at $3,000,000 for September, and added another $2,000,000 to prevent KOLL from paying less than $1.50 per borrow.

This shows two things: (1) Amazon doesn’t want the KOLL payment to drop too low and (2) Kindle Unlimited is still very active. The second point shows that there is a significant Kindle Unlimited market presently.

Books with list prices of $2.99 or more draw a greater royalty through sales, but it’s quite possible that many customers who are reading books through Kindle Unlimited wouldn’t have purchased many of those books otherwise. There is some trade-off. Opting out of KDP Select opens up other opportunities at Smashwords, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Nook, etc., but will ‘your’ book sell well through those channels and will it make up for leaving KDP Select? It’s a tough call. And it’s possible that Amazon sales will go down if opting out of Kindle Unlimited (as Kindle Unlimited has a positive impact on sales rank).

Every book is different. I’m keeping my books in KDP Select. My sales ranks seem to have dropped somewhat, yet overall my monthly Kindle royalties have steadily risen from July onward. This shows that many more Kindle e-books are being read as a result of Kindle Unlimited. (Sales themselves have improved slightly for me, and the borrows make for nice gravy.)

Read Tuesday

Imagine a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers.

You don’t have to imagine it. It’s called Read Tuesday, and it’s free:

Halloween Reading

Looking for some spooky books to read this Halloween month?

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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
  • Boxed set (of 4 books) now available for Kindle pre-order

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Kindle Unlimited in the UK



Amazon just launched Kindle Unlimited in the UK (for the website).

Now UK customers can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for ÂŁ7.99 per month (with a free 30-day trial period).

This allows UK subscribers access to unlimited reading of over 650,000 titles and thousands of audiobooks. This includes all KDP Select titles selling in the UK, plus about 100,000 other titles, such as Harry Potter.

The KDP Select Global Fund for September is presently $3 million. In both July and August, more than $2 million was added to the projected KDP Select Global Fund each month to bring the KOLL payment up to $1.81 and $1.54, respectively, per book read to 10% through Kindle Unlimited.

The introduction of Kindle Unlimited to the UK will increase the borrows for September somewhat, though with only a week remaining in September, this effect will be somewhat limited.

Many KDP Select books will see a surge in borrows in the UK for September and October.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Kindle Unlimited KOLL Payment for August, 2014 = $1.54

Unlimited Books

KOLL Payment for August, 2014

Kindle Unlimited downloads read to 10% and Amazon Prime borrows paid $1.54 for August.

This is down considerably from $1.81 for July.

Update: Kindle Unlimited paid $1.52 in September, nearly the same as August, but dropped down to $1.33 for October. It’s back up to $1.39 for November, 2014 and further up to $1.43 in December, 2014.

However, there is, in fact, a precedent for this:

  • Amazon Prime paid $1.70 for its debut month.
  • Amazon Prime paid $1.60 for its second month.
  • Since then, Amazon Prime has steadily paid closer to $2.

So, like Prime, the first two months of Kindle Unlimited are somewhat lower than the usual $2 KOLL payment.

I think another month of data will be useful.

One big difference is that Kindle Unlimited subscribers can download many books, whereas Prime customers can only read one book per month.

With this in mind, it’s amazing that Kindle Unlimited has actually paid close to $2 per download read to 10%.

There is more to gain through Kindle Unlimited than through Prime, since any customer can read multiple books through the program.

Another advantage is that Kindle Unlimited downloads help your sales rank whether or not the book is read to 10%.

Kindle sales rank is also getting more competitive. It takes more sales or downloads than ever to maintain the same sales rank. That’s because many KDP Select books are receiving sales rank books through Kindle Unlimited.

There are also KDP Select books whose sales ranks are sliding despite getting Kindle Unlimited downloads, simply because many other books are getting even more downloads.

Just imagine how much those sales ranks would slide without Kindle Unlimited there to give it those beneficial downloads.

Though, if sales rank is sliding, opting out of select may still be enticing, even if the book is benefiting from some downloads. Opting out of Select opens up other doors, like Nook and Kobo.

I’m staying in Select though. I’m seeing a boost, overall, compared to the way it was before. Every book is different though.

It might be worth waiting a month before opting in or out.

Though, if you wish to opt out, you must uncheck a box from your bookshelf to disable automatic renewal AND you must wait for the 90-day period to pass before publishing elsewhere.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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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WOW! Kindle Unlimited Paid $1.81 in July, 2014 (Updated)

Fourth Quarter Pic

Kindle Unlimited

KDP Select historically paid approximately $2 per Amazon Prime borrow.

Kindle Unlimited allows customers to download multiple books, whereas Amazon Prime used to allow only one borrow per customer.

Also, Kindle Unlimited readers don’t need to read their books on a Kindle device.

So there was much concern that Kindle Unlimited may pay much less than the usual $2 per borrow.

Well, the results are in, and Kindle Unlimited paid $1.805 per download/borrow.

Three factors helped out:

  1. Amazon added $800,000 to the July, 2014 KOLL fund, bringing the total to $2 million for the month.
  2. Then Amazon added another $785,000, bringing the KOLL fund up to $2,875,000 for July, 2014. That’s more than double the usual fund.
  3. Customers had to reach the 10% mark of the book before authors would receive royalties for Kindle Unlimited downloads.

The August, 2014 KOLL fund will again be $2 million.

Although July was a partial month, it also received a big boost of activity as the program was new and many customers were trying it out and using their free trial periods.

Update: In August and September KOLL paid $1.54 and $1.52, respectively; while in October, it paid $1.33. It’s up to $1.39 for November, 2014 and $1.43 in December.

I had been predicting significantly less, yet I’m very happy to have been wrong. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Prediction for How Much Kindle Unlimited Downloads Will Pay in July, 2014

Unlimited Books

What Will Kindle Unlimited Pay?

We won’t find out for sure until a couple of weeks into July.

In the meantime, the best we can do is make predictions based on what limited data we do have.

When July, 2014 began, the KDP Select Global Fund was $1.2 million. This was to be distributed among Amazon Prime borrows of KDP Select books in the US and UK.

Prior to the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon typically paid approximately $2 per Amazon Prime borrow.

Kindle Unlimited was introduced a little over halfway through the month of July. $800,000 was added to the KDP Select Global Fund, bringing the total fund to $2 million. Another $785,000 has since been added, bringing the fund to $2,785,000.

A big factor will be that customers can download several Kindle e-books through Kindle Unlimited, whereas Amazon Prime customers can only borrow one book per month.

Thus, the total number of downloads/borrows can be expected to be much higher than the typical number of KDP Select borrows has been in the past.

This will likely reduce the KOLL payments for July, 2014 compared to previous months.

Keep in mind that there are likely to be excessive downloads through Kindle Unlimited for the first couple of months of the program, but this will likely taper off and become steady thereafter. Likely, the KOLL payments will rise somewhat, if not return to normal, by September, 2014.

Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting. This is largely due to an unexpected increase in the KOLL fund from $2,000,000 to $2,785,000.

Predicting KOLL Payments for July, 2014

I will base my prediction on the variety of Kindle e-books that I see in my sales reports.

I will also show you how to do the calculation so that you can compare with your own numbers.

You’ll need to visit KDP and get the following numbers:

  • The total number of borrows/downloads from July 1 thru July 30. (We’ll ignore the 31st to get a nice, round number. It will make a small difference, but we’re approximating anyway, so… Be sure to include any UK borrows.)
  • How many borrows you had from July 1 thru July 17. (Look at your Sales Dashboard graph and add up the borrows for those dates. If you’re reading this message in August, change the dates of the report to July. Be sure to include any borrows you may have had in the UK.)

(Only Prime customers can borrow in the UK. So any borrows you see in the UK aren’t from Kindle Unlimited.)

Let me use the following symbols to represent the two numbers that you looked up:

  • D = total number of borrows/downloads thru July 30.
  • C = total number of borrows thru July 17.

I’ll work this out for the following example:

  • D = 48
  • C = 9

Here are the steps:

  1. Take the original KDP Select Global Fund of $1.2 million and divide by $2. This equals 600,000. This estimates how many Amazon Prime borrows in the US and UK combined Amazon was predicting prior to the debut of Kindle Unlimited.
  2. Define B = C x 30 / 17. In my example, B = 9 x 30 / 17 = 16. This approximates how many borrows you would have had without the introduction of Kindle Unlimited (assuming roughly equal likelihood of borrows on any day throughout the month).
  3. Define A = D / B. In my example, A = 48 / 16 = 3. This approximates by which factor your total number of borrows/downloads increased as a result of Kindle Unlimited.
  4. Define N = A x 600,000. In my example, N = 3 x 600,000 = 1.8 million. This is your estimate for the total number of borrows/downloads by all customers in July based solely on your own data. (If your data isn’t representative, i.e. close to what happened on average, then your projection will be way off. But the game is still fun to play, isn’t it?)
  5. Divide $2 million by N. In my example, this is $2 million / 1.8 million = $1.11. This is your prediction for how much each borrow/download will pay. The closer the data for your own books happens to be to the true (unknown, as of yet) average, the better your prediction will be. Update: Divide $2,785,000 by N, since Amazon added an extra $785,000 to the global fund.

My KOLL Prediction for July, 2014

That’s what I did to arrive at my prediction:

  • Based on what limited data I have, I’m predicting that KDP Select borrows/Kindle Unlimited downloads will pay between $1.10 and $1.25 apiece for July, 2014. You heard it here first. (But if I turn out to be way off, please forget that.) Update: My range changes to $1.53 to $1.74 based on this increased fund.
  • Although I have a variety of Kindle e-books on my sales reports, just like you, my data could be well below or well above average. So the actual payment could be much higher or lower.
  • So, to be safe, I’m going to widen my prediction to $0.85 to $1.50. 🙂 This changes to $1.18 to $2.09 based on the increased global fund.
  • If Amazon adds to the KDP Select Global Fund for July, 2014, that may change my prediction considerably. Indeed, Amazon did add another $785,000 to the global fund.
  • I would like to believe that it will be closer to $2 than my data projects, and that may very well turn out to be the case. Authors and Amazon both would probably like for KOLL to pay closer to $2. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, though. Let’s cross our fingers, just in case.
  • I also predict that KDP Select borrows/Kindle Unlimited downloads will pay closer to $2 starting in September, 2014, once many free trials have ended and once customers have had a couple of months to play with this new feature. (Note that I said closer to $2. I didn’t say $2.)

What is your prediction based on your data? The more numbers we see in the comments section, the more data we’ll have to judge by. You don’t have to say how many borrows you’ve had. But whatever your prediction turns out to be, that would be appreciated.

Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting. This is largely due to an unexpected increase in the KOLL fund from $2,000,000 to $2,785,000.

What about Sales?

My borrows/downloads were over 5x more frequent than normal from July 18 thru July 30. (Yes, I’ll get to sales. Patience, please.)

That brings my overall number of borrows/downloads for the month to roughly 3 times the usual number of borrows. Hence my prediction of $1.10 to $1.25 for July, 2014.

So even if KOLL pays $1.10, I would still be making over 50% more for Kindle Unlimited downloads than I ordinarily would have made from Amazon Prime borrows. KOLL would have to pay $0.66 or less for my net royalties for borrows to be less than usual. (This remains a possibility, since we don’t know what KOLL will really pay as of now.)

In comparison, my Kindle sales were 15% more frequent than normal from July 18 thru July 30. Yes, my sales improved, too. I would attribute that to the improved sales rank resulting from the many additional downloads in Kindle Unlimited.

Strangely, my best day for Kindle sales in July, 2014 was July 28. My best day for borrows/downloads was July 24. Kindle Unlimited downloads held fairly steady for me all the way thru the 30th, though I’ve heard from others that downloads have tapered off for them.


This prediction is for entertainment purposes only. I make no guarantees nor warranties. I’m not to be held accountable for any differences between the actual KOLL payments and my prediction. If you blow a fortune gambling based on my prediction, you acknowledge that I warned you—right now—that you shouldn’t have done so. However, if you happen to win big, you’re welcome to send a tip. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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How Can Kindle Unlimited Improve Your Sales?

More Sales

Kindle Unlimited

For $9.99 per month, customers can check out up to 10 Kindle e-books from an extensive library of 600,000 titles at Amazon. All books enrolled in KDP Select are participating (plus 100,000 others from mostly small presses). Authors will receive royalties in the form of KDP Select borrows. The July, 2014 KDP Global Fund has been increased to $2,000,000. You can read more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.

Authors need to decide whether to opt in or opt out of KDP Select. The big question to ask is whether or not participation in Kindle Unlimited will improve the book’s sales.

Obviously, some books will thrive in this program, others will not. The difficult question is predicting how your book will do. I will discuss the pros and cons of Kindle Unlimited by focusing on how it could improve sales, and then I will discuss the opposite.

How Can Kindle Unlimited Improve Your Sales?

  • Kindle Unlimited customers can download KDP Select books for free. They can store up to 10 borrowed books on their devices, then download more once they return any of those 10. Every time a customer downloads a book and reads past the 10% point, you receive a royalty. For Kindle Unlimited customers, your book is permanently free (well, they do pay $9.99 per month for the privilege) AND you earn a royalty when it’s read. Customers are looking for books to download.
  • Kindle Unlimited offers customers the opportunity to try newbie authors or indie authors without risk. Bad book? Doesn’t cost a penny. Just get a new one. There are hundreds of thousands of indie authors, though, so just because many customers will be trying out indie authors doesn’t mean you’ll be one of those authors. As always, you need good content, good packaging, and effective marketing to make the most of the opportunity.
  • KDP Select books that succeed in getting numerous downloads will have an advantage over books that aren’t in Kindle Unlimited. It allows indie books to compete with traditionally published book more than ever. Every download improves your sales rank. That improved sales rank helps you generate even more sales. Books that thrive in the program can reap many benefits. Not all books will thrive; the better your book, packaging, and marketing, the better your chances (but that’s true even if you opt out of KDP Select).
  • Another benefit of frequent downloads is more exposure through customers-also-bought lists. Kindle Unlimited naturally helps books that help themselves through good content and marketing.
  • More downloads also leads to more reviews. Some books won’t get additional downloads, so none of this will help those books (but for those books, opting out might not be any better). Kindle Unlimited puts a premium on writing the best book you can.
  • The best benefit of more downloads is for books with excellent word-of-mouth potential. Here is where Kindle Unlimited can really favor fantastic books. Succeed in getting frequent downloads in Kindle Unlimited, and if you also have great content, you may see a very significant long-term growth through word-of-mouth sales. Many books don’t succeed in generating word-of-mouth recommendations, but those that do can really take off.
  • If your book is perceived as a great value, Kindle Unlimited subscribers might be attracted to your book. Since they can get any book free, they aren’t shopping for the cheapest book—they’re shopping for the best value. Suddenly, a higher price seems like a better value (since it’s free, why not read higher-priced books?). In addition to price, they will look at the length of the book and the quality (it could be that longer books are a better value; time will tell). But with a higher list price comes higher expectations, and your book better deliver on those heightened expectations to thrive in the long run.
  • If you have a great book that customers want to keep, the customer might want to keep it permanently. The customer can only store up to 10 borrowed books on the device. When a customer cancels Kindle Unlimited, all the books disappear. So the customer might want to buy your book—as a sale through Kindle, or as a paperback. This way, in time, outstanding books may actually sell two copies to some customers (once as a KDP Select borrow, once as a sale).
  • Thousands of customers are using the free 30-day trial. When the trial ends, some will cancel their subscriptions. Now suppose they downloaded your book during the free trial period and wished they could continue reading it. Well, they can. Now they just have to buy it. Many books will actually earn two royalties in the first couple of months of the program because of this.
  • Like any tool, the tool itself might not have much value to you, but if you do effective marketing with the tool, it can pay significant dividends. Kindle Unlimited seems like it may be just like such tools. The more sales you drive through effective marketing, the more sales rank, reviews, and word-of-mouth sales can help your book. The quality of the book and packaging are important, too. For example, try using the #Free with #KindleUnlimited hashtags, or look for Facebook groups specifically for Kindle Unlimited, or show parents what a value Kindle Unlimited can be for their kids. Where there is a will…

Remember, just because it can improve sales doesn’t mean it will. Some books will thrive in the program, but others won’t.

Even if the KDP Select per-borrow royalty goes way down (it’s usually around $2), if you have more customers than usual, it may be a fair trade-off. Additional readers gives you:

  • Long-term potential for valuable word-of-mouth sales.
  • Improved sales rank.
  • More reviews, on average.
  • Greater exposure.

If your book enjoys any of these benefits, in the long run, it may even be worth staying in KDP Select even if your net income diminishes slightly.

And if you opt out, there’s no guarantee that will turn out to be any better. But it could be, so let’s look at the other side of the coin.

Could Kindle Unlimited Hurt Your Sales?

  • Well, if you choose to opt out KDP Select, any customers in Kindle Unlimited may be reluctant to buy your book when there are 600,000 others that they can get for free. But for the remaining bullet points, let me focus on how staying in KDP Select may actually hurt your sales, or where opting out may be the better option.
  • The biggest drawback of KDP Select still is, and always has been, exclusivity. You’re not allowed to publish the e-book edition of your book (or one similar to it) on Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, or anywhere else. Some books sell primarily on Amazon; those books will probably be better off in KDP Select than not. Other books sell 25% or more through other sales channels; for these books, it’s possible that exclusivity isn’t worth the sacrifice. Though Kindle Unlimited may squeeze Kindle’s competition, reducing the potential to draw sales from other channels.
  • If your book doesn’t thrive in Kindle Unlimited, your sales rank will slip and that will in turn deter sales somewhat. You can actually get a few downloads every day and slip in sales rank because so many other KDP Select books are getting more downloads than you are. This will in turn diminish your prospects for reviews and word-of-mouth sales.
  • If Kindle Unlimited readers perceive that your book doesn’t have enough value, that may deter sales. They may deem that the price is too low (it would take 10 99-cent books just to make the $9.99 per month fee pay off), maybe the book is too short, or maybe they will scrutinize the Look Inside and pass on anything that doesn’t seem to be high in quality.
  • One of the bad things about freebies may be true of Kindle Unlimited: When customers can get something for free, they don’t always read the description or check the Look Inside carefully (or even at all!). Then they leave bad reviews because the book didn’t turn out as they had imagined. Sometimes bad reviews actually improve sales (especially, when it’s clear the customer made a mistake), but sometimes they do hurt sales, too. You won’t have to worry about customers hoarding books and not reading them, though, because they can only store 10 on the device.
  • If you’re used to stimulating sales through promotional strategies—freebies, 99-cent prices, BookBub, etc.—these marketing tools may become less effective. What will a Kindle Unlimited customer care about freebies or low prices? They can get $9.99 books for free!
  • Series authors are impacted by Kindle Unlimited. It may be wise to remove the omnibus from KDP Select (but you’re probably still bound by the exclusivity terms if your individual volumes are in KDP Select). The omnibus will lose its effectiveness with Kindle Unlimited readers (though this may help the sales ranks of your individual volumes). If you ordinarily make the first volume free or 99 cents, or price all of your books at 99 cents, this strategy may not be appealing to Kindle Unlimited readers looking for a good value. Maybe a higher price would appeal to these readers more. (Or if all your volumes are cheap, maybe it does make sense to leave the omnibus in KDP Select—that volume may offer enough value to receive a download, if the individual volumes don’t.)
  • Mismatched value could lead to frustrated buyers and negative reviews. For example, if you take a book that’s really not perceived to be worth more than $2.99 and raise its price to $6.99, customers hoping to get a $6.99 value may be disgruntled. Higher-priced books are only favored if they deliver on the higher expectations.
  • If you have a long book and customers aren’t enjoying the beginning enough to reach 10%, you could potentially receive a bunch of downloads, but never see the royalties. More than ever, it’s important to engage the reader immediately and hold the reader’s attention.

Additional Notes

  • If your book wasn’t selling to begin with, Kindle Unlimited probably isn’t the answer to your sales woes. It could be the cover, the blurb, the Look Inside, reviews (maybe even the good ones), the idea, the lack of marketing… Don’t expect Kindle Unlimited to be that magic wand you were hoping for.
  • It doesn’t make any sense to compare July, 2014 to June, 2014, i.e. to compare your income with Kindle Unlimited to your income the way things used to be. The way things used to be just isn’t an option. What you really want to know is, will you be better off in KDP Select, or out of it?

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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Marketing Children’s Books with Kindle Unlimited

Childrens Reading

Marketing Opportunity for Children’s Authors

Children’s authors—and to some extent, even tween and teen authors—have the potential to use Kindle Unlimited as a marketing opportunity.

There are many parents, teachers, educators, and librarians who would love kids to READ much more.

Kindle Unlimited is an incredible value for parents:

  • Bedtime stories. Kindle Unlimited gives access to a huge collection of children’s stories, far more than can be stored on a bookshelf. Some of those children’s book are pretty expensive, too, but Kindle Unlimited offers an amazing selection for $9.99 per month. Kids will love the opportunity to read along on a Kindle Fire (or another device) as the parent operates the device.
  • Reading fluency. From elementary school to young adults, access to tens of thousands of children’s, tween, and teen stories for $9.99 per month is a great opportunity to encourage kids to develop a love for reading by finding books that interest them. Get a book they didn’t like? No problem: Find another! The more they read, the more fluent they will become (it helps not only improve English, but also writing and vocabulary—years of practice will be valuable on standardized exams), and the more they will want to read as they get older. Help make reading a habit.
  • Educational resource. Need homework help? Need more practice? Want to learn more about a topic that caught your interest in school? Kindle Unlimited provides access to numerous Kindle educational titles that can help with learning, study aids, and nonfiction reading. Parents can learn more, too, or discover books that help them teach particular skills. All that at your fingertips for $9.99 per month.
  • Access to a library on your fingertips. Would you rather have your child searching on the internet—where they can find lord knows what—for school help, or would you rather have access to a huge library of published e-books for $9.99 per month? You can check out up to 10 titles at a time. Then simply return one title to check out another.

If every parent takes full advantage of Kindle Unlimited there would be an astronomical amount of downloads (thereby diminishing the KDP Select download royalty). But many parents won’t realize the full potential, and there are many people subscribing to Kindle Unlimited who aren’t parents or who aren’t subscribing for the benefit of their kids. There also is a Restrictions paragraph in the terms of use. Amazon didn’t specify a number, but if you go overboard downloading books, that paragraph might become applicable.

But Kindle Unlimited is an amazing resource for parents. I’m certainly subscribing.

Authors of children’s, tween, and even teen books can take advantage of this. Show parents what a value this is for their children, with examples of how they can use it well. Emphasize how it can help with reading and learning.

The more parents who use Kindle Unlimited to help build reading fluency or improve learning, the more children’s authors in KDP Select who will be benefiting from more downloads through Kindle Unlimited.

You have the opportunity to gain visibility among parents while advertising the educational benefits of Kindle Unlimited. Surely, many parents will check out your children’s books for helping them see the benefits.

All authors enrolled in KDP Select need to be thinking about possible benefits of Kindle Unlimited for their books, and striving to find marketing strategies to help realize these benefits. For example, if you’re a flash fiction author, you want to advertise to flash fiction readers how they can get a great value from Kindle Unlimited.

It’s not just KDP Select books or just indie books. There are 100,000 books from various (mostly small publishers) in addition to 500,000 books from KDP Select. Harry Potter and many other books that your kids may want to read are in the mix.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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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Will $5.99 be the new FREE?

Free Reading

Book Pricing Strategies

Amazon recently launched Kindle Unlimited, which allows customers to download multiple books all for just $9.99 per month. The selection includes all 500,000 KDP Select books plus an additional 100,000 books, including Harry Potter. (Read more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here.)

If Kindle Unlimited really catches on—it looks quite promising for readers—it could be a game-changer for pricing Kindle e-books.

Many customers are indeed trying Kindle Unlimited out, and as more customers do this, it will surely impact sales ranks of Amazon e-books.

Let’s look at a little history:

  • 99-cents has often been a popular price-point. It’s cheap enough that customers can buy on impulse and not worry too much if it doesn’t work out. But many also believe that you get what you pay for, and believe this more strongly after a few books don’t work out.
  • When KDP Select first launched, FREE was a popular promotional strategy that worked for many authors. But then FREE lost its luster.
  • $2.99 has been a popular price point. You have to sell 6 times as many books at 99 cents to make the same royalty at $2.99, plus the higher price suggests higher quality than 99 cents.
  • Recent studies have shown that $3.99 to $5.99 is a profitable price-point. Indeed, many customers shop this slightly higher price range, expecting to find better quality here. (The study also showed that $9.99 was highly profitable, but nonfiction and big-name authors have lent popularity to that range.)

In the past, many books have sold in the free to $2.99 price range because many customers have been thinking about saving money—and about the risk of a higher-priced book not turning out well.

Kindle Unlimited customers are likely to have a different mindset:

  • Kindle Unlimited customers aren’t asking, “What’s affordable?” Once you spend $9.99 for the month, every book you want to read is essentially free.
  • So they are instead asking, “What’s the best book I can read?” They are looking for the best book, not the best price. If they do look at price, it’s as a guide to value.

The value of e-books may be changing. It is, at least, for Kindle Unlimited subscribers:

  • Cheap price-points have no value to Kindle Unlimited readers. Free isn’t a good deal to them. Instead, low prices may suggest low quality.
  • Higher-priced books may have more value to Kindle Unlimited readers. You have to read ten 99-cent books to get your $9.99’s worth for the month, but if you read ten $5.99 books, that’s a $60 value.

Since Kindle Unlimited has just launched, it still remains to be seen how much Kindle Unlimited customers will impact book pricing strategies and Amazon sales ranks.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Will 99-cent thru $2.99 books slip in the Amazon rankings?
  • Will $3.99 thru $9.99 Kindle Select books rise in the Amazon rankings?
  • If higher-priced Kindle Select books do rise in rankings, will that improve their sales, too?
  • Will KDP Select freebies and Countdown Deals become less effective?
  • Will BookBub and other promotions become less effective?

Even if $2.99 and lower books are enrolled in KDP Select and receive downloads, if other books—such as $5.99 books—are receiving even more downloads than they are, then those $2.99 and lower books will still fall in the rankings despite the downloads. There may be a lot of books that used to have sales ranks in the 100,000’s moving up to the top and pushing other books down in the ranks.

The effect may not be immediate. Customers also look at reviews. Covers, blurbs, and great beginnings will always matter. Books at the top probably have good packaging and many reviews, and books at the bottom may still need to build reviews. But as more readers try out higher-priced books, their popularity may grow and they may gain more reviews. Many Kindle Unlimited readers will approach the book-buying process differently, and it will eventually have some discernible effects. If the cover, blurb, or Look Inside have problems, this will deter sales regardless of the price-point.

Either way, the book must command the price it has. If you simply take a 99-cent short story and reprice it at $5.99, it’s probably not going to be perceived as a better value suddenly. Plus, if customers think the book is worth much less than the list price, it’s likely to show up in a review.

Rather, if a book really is worth $5.99, but has been priced lower based on how the market had been prior to Kindle Unlimited, if that book is enrolled in KDP Select, it might be a good time to reconsider its list price.

It depends on two things. First, will Kindle Unlimited customers favor higher-priced books? Second, how popular will Kindle Unlimited be? Time will tell.

If sales ranks of lower-priced books slip over the next two weeks, this will become food for thought.

The other side of the coin is that KDP Select borrows pay the same regardless of the list price. Books priced $3.99 and up would earn higher royalties for sales than the KDP Select borrows have historically paid (about $2 per borrow). But if their inclusion in KDP Select generates additional sales because of the perceived value, it may well be worth enrolling those books in KDP Select.

It remains to be seen how popular Kindle Unlimited will become and how much (and what kind of) impact it will have. But authors need to decide which side of the fence to stand on, and how to best plan their marketing strategies around the introduction of Kindle Unlimited, and so authors must make many decisions, such as whether or not to enroll in KDP Select and whether or not to change the list price. These decisions won’t be easy, but they may have a significant impact on a book’s sales in the coming months.

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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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KOLL Payments for Kindle Select Borrows from December, 2011 thru June, 2014

KOLL Payments

How Much Do KDP Select Borrows Pay?

With the introduction of Kindle Unlimited (read more about Kindle Unlimited by clicking here), many authors are wondering how much Amazon will pay for each qualifying download (i.e. where the customer passes the 10% mark).

Although that’s a complicated question (since customers can download several books through Kindle Unlimited, whereas Amazon Prime customers were only able to read one free KDP Select book per month), we do have data for KDP Select going back to the launch of the program in December 2011.

So I went through my KDP monthly royalty reports for 2011, 2012, 2013, and thru June of 2014 to tabulate the KOLL per-borrow payments by month.

You can see this displayed graphically above. Below, you will find the data in a table.

Notes regarding KDP Select with Amazon Prime:

  • The lowest KOLL payments were December, 2011 ($1.70) and January, 2012 ($1.60), when KDP Select was first introduced.
  • The lowest KOLL payment was $1.60 (December, 2011) and the highest was $2.51 (October, 2013).
  • The most recent KOLL payment was $2.24 (June, 2014).
  • Most months, KOLL payments were $2 and a little change.
  • The average KOLL payment since December, 2011 has been $2.15.
  • The average in 2012 was $2.10, in 2013 it was $2.23, and so far in 2014 it has been $2.15.

Notes regarding Kindle Unlimited:

  • If it’s like the beginning of KDP Select, the first two months of Kindle Unlimited will have lower KOLL payments than in subsequent months. (But perhaps it will be different.)
  • Kindle Unlimited offers unlimited downloads, whereas Amazon Prime only permitted one free borrow. This may cause the Kindle Unlimited data to be considerably different from prior KDP Select data.
  • Amazon has already added $800,000 to the KOLL Global Fund for July, 2014 (and Kindle Unlimited was only introduced with two weeks left in the month), bringing the total fund to $2,000,000 for July. Will this be enough to maintain per-borrow payments of about $2? That’s the million-dollar question.
  • Update: The results are in now. Kindle Unlimited paid $1.81 per borrow/download in July, 2014, much higher than I was expecting.
  • Update: More results: Kindle Unlimited paid $1.54 and $1.52 in August and September, 2014, respectively.
  • Update: In October, 2014, Kindle Unlimited payments dropped down to $1.33.
2011 December $1.70
2012 January $1.60
February $2.01
March $2.18
April $2.48
May $2.26
June $2.08
July $2.04
August $2.12
September $2.29
October $2.36
November $1.90
December $1.88
2013 January $2.23
February $2.31
March $1.94
April $2.27
May $2.24
June $2.24
July $2.04
August $2.26
September $2.42
October $2.51
November $2.46
December $1.86
2014 January $1.93
February $2.24
March $2.10
April $2.24
May $2.17
June $2.24

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 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

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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