295,000 borrows from KDP Select in December

295,000 borrows from KDP Select in December

Amazon’s new program, KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select, in which publishers using KDP make their books available to eligible Prime members as part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL), is a success..so much so that Amazon is adding $200,000 to the pot in January.

While Amazon doesn’t always give us a lot of hard figures, they do about KDP Select in this

Press Release

  • There were 295,000 borrows just in December
  • The top ten KDP select participants made a combined $70,000
  • Those top ten participants “…saw their royalties grow an astonishing 449% month-over-month from November to December. ” (combining their share of the loan pool and their royalties)

This is all very good, certainly, and they cite some specific cases…a sixteen-year old, Rachel Yu, earned $6,200 from the KDP Select pool, for example.

However, before you rush into this thinking it’s a get rich quick opportunity, it’s important to look at what the non-top earners got.

One figure we aren’t given is how many participants there were. It’s entirely possible that there were thousands of people who had no loans at all, and thus got none of the pool.

For those in the pool, they got $500,000 divided by 295,000…about $1.69 per loan.

A $2.99 book in the 70% royalty plan gets about $2.09 (minus delivery charges) for a regular sale, so this would be lower on a per transaction basis.

On the other hand, a ninety-nine cent title which get 35% (they aren’t eligible for 70%) would only make about thirty-five cents, so this is considerably higher (close to five times as much).

However, one key point is that having books in the KOLL appears to be driving the sales of those same books outside the KOLL.

That’s always been the selling point that Overdrive.com has made to publishers to try to get them to put their books into their public library lending system. Discovery leads to purchases.

It may seem counter-intuitive: if you can get the book for free, why would you pay for it?

One answer is that you can’t always get it. In public libraries, it’s because they have to pay for each license…they can’t just lend it to patrons as much as they want, they are limited.

In the case of the KOLL, the big limitation is that you can only borrow up to a book a month. Eligible borrowers probably look at several books before they borrow one…so they’ve been exposed to those titles. They may decide to borrow one rather than wait for the next borrowing opportunity…and they may add them to Wish Lists.

The latter could be true even if they do borrow something. They may put it on a Wish List for someone else to buy for them, so they can own it.

Another big argument is word of mouth…and what I call, “word of mouse” (online reviews, tweets, and forum chatter…anything online that spreads the word about the book). Borrow a book, talk it up, and that can result in sales (see my recent post on reviews for how they affect purchases…more than 41% of my respondents right now won’t buy a book without reading those user reviews).

That additional $200,000 for January raises the pool pay (I’m going to start using that) by 40%…if the number of loans were the same this month, instead of $1.69, it would be $2.37…that could make a big difference. Rachel Yu would have made  $8,680 on the same number of borrows…more than $2000 more in a month (not bad for a high schooler). ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

6 Responses to “295,000 borrows from KDP Select in December”

  1. Deb Schmalz Says:

    Dear Bufo Calvin, does this mean that your royalties increase also? Is this a sort of retroactive increase or does it begin with the present? Deb Schmalz. p.s. may use in blog as appropriate :)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Deb!

      We’re not supposed to talk about our specific sales, so I’m going to address this generally.

      When someone buys a book published with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) from the Kindle store, the publisher (which may just be an individual author) gets a royalty. That may be 35% or 70%, depending on the plan the publisher has selected. The 70% plan has certain requirements, including not blocking text-to-speech access, allowing lending, and being in the price range from $2.99 to $9.99.

      With KDP Select borrows, the publisher does not get a royalty, but instead, gets a share of a pool based on how many borrows they have. In December, that pool was $500,000. In January, it will be $700,000.

      So, a publisher will get either a royalty or what I’m calling “pool pay” (although that is technically also a royalty), depending on how the book is obtained by the customer.

      A book can simultaneously be for sale and be available for borrowing. In the same month, the publisher could get royalties and pool pay on the same title.

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