Amazon has been unsurprisingly reticent about sharing data about their Kindle Unlimited program, a subscription system that lets you download ostensibly free ebooks, mostly from Indie authors. Nielsen research is showing that users who subscribed to Kindle Unlimited spend more on books in general, on a monthly basis, than those who do not.
Nate Hoffelder has done a bit of analysis and saw that subscribers spent about $58 per month on books while non-subscribers spent $34. Gender is almost split down the middle with women edging out men in subscription sign-ups.
Kindle Unlimited is still a divisive service. Authors are finding that the service is eviscerating their regular sales and many major players still haven’t joined Amazon in giving out books via subscription. While free books all the time works in some cases – indie authors who are looking for visibility rather than cash, for example – in many cases it cannibalizes traditional sales. Getting the word out is hard (as I’ve discovered) but the vagaries of Amazon can mean that one small change in your sales strategy can ruin an established author’s standing on the site.
In the end Kindle Unlimited seems like a great service on the surface. It just needs to become a great service at its core, something far harder to do than even Bezos can imagine.