Apparently, Amazon has been crunching its own internal data this week in order to tout the traction surrounding its various products. Only yesterday, the company was talking about numbers related to its Prime two-day delivery, and today it’s boasting about Kindle title downloads. The company now says that its Kindle-exclusive books have been downloaded over 100 million times, and the number of exclusives in its Lending Library catalog has grown to include 180,000 books. That’s up from the 130,000 titles it had in April, for comparison purposes, and up from the 75,000 books it had in January.
Although the number is, on the surface, just referring to the growth of Amazon’s exclusive Kindle catalog, in reality it’s also another metric related to Amazon Prime – the membership program which lets users pay on annual basis for access to faster shipping and unlimited video streaming, among other things. Amazon Prime members can borrow these Kindle-exclusive titles from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and according to Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content, customers have been doing just that, in droves. “They’re super popular,” he says, “in less than a year they’ve been downloaded more than 100 million times.”
In January, Amazon was talking about the 75,000 ebooks it had available in the Lending Library, and these were being downloaded at a rate of around 300,000 per month. In November, there were just 5,000 ebooks in the Library. But as the library grew, so did the downloads. [Correction - to be clear, today's 100M number includes paid sales, borrows from the library and free downloads of books made through KDP Select promotions. The 300K number in January only included KDP books from the Lending Library for the month.]
And a lot of that is due to KDP Select, the program that lets authors make their titles exclusive to Kindle, and which offers a $6 million annual fund to pay them based on the total number of qualified borrows. The fund was at $600,000 last month and this month.
In August, KDP Select books enrolled in July earned 77% more royalties from paid sales than the three months before they were enrolled in the program, says Amazon, adding that the figure is “conservative” as it only includes books that were available via KDP for the entire three months prior to enrolling in KDP Select. Including the money authors earned from the KDP Select fund would push that number higher, Amazon notes.
Some top-selling titles include “War Brides” by Helen Bryan (270K+ purchases or downloads), Karen McQuestion’s books “A Scattered Life,” “Easily Amused” and “The Long Way Home” (500K+ downloads), Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series which debuted in 1956 (250K downloads), Debora Geary’s “A Modern Witch” (200K sold), and “Our Husband” by Stephanie Bond (200K sold). Geary’s work even briefly unseated “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which also wants to make me write her a personal note of thanks. I mean, really – have you read that thing? Say what you want about the democratization of publishing, but if I’m hoping that Fifty Shades is a fluke, and not the sort of best-seller we have to look forward to thanks to a more open playing field.