Downward trend in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
Well, this was fascinating!
I was intrigued when the pool pay per borrow was $2.18 for March.
That’s the amount that publishers using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing who have elected to put their books in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) got for each time an eligible Prime member borrowed one of their books.
That’s up from February from $2.01. That $2.18 is significant: it means that books which are priced at $2.99 and which are getting the highest 70% royalty rate were worth more to the publisher when borrowed than when purchased (which is about $2.08, depending on the size of the book…there is a delivery charge based on file size).
That’s interesting both philosophically and strategically. People do get less when they borrow a book (they don’t get to keep it), but the publisher is paid more for it.
That’s because the consumer isn’t paying the publisher…Amazon is. Having the KOLL is a great selling point for physical Kindles (you can’t borrow from it with just a reading app). More importantly, I think, is that it increases the value of Prime, which I think is a key part of Amazon’s retailing strategy.
The pool was the same in February and March: $600,000.
If publishers got more per borrow, that means there were fewer borrows.
Yep: people borrowed fewer books from the KOLL in March…and there were two more days in March.
That intrigued me, so I wanted to run some numbers. I knew the number of available books had been going up, so I included that:
|Month||Pool||Pool Pay||Borrows||Per Day||Count||BPT|
|Dec-11||$ 500,000||$ 1.70||294,118||12,788|
|Jan-12||$ 700,000||$ 1.60||437,500||14,113||69,850||6.26|
|Feb-12||$ 600,000||$ 2.01||298,507||10,293||95,020||3.14|
|Mar-12||$ 600,000||$ 2.18||275,229||8,878||117,652||2.34|
As you can see, the number of borrows went down in March over February.
Let me explain those columns:
The month is the month.
The pool is the amount that was divided among the participating publishers.
The pool pay is how much those publishers got for each “borrow”.
The borrows are the number of times that books were borrowed from the KOLL. Note that those aren’t all different titles. It’s possible that The Hunger Games was borrowed a lot more often than Love Your Kindle Fire…in fact, I’d bet on it.
Per day is the number of borrows per day. I did adjust for the program not starting until December 8th.
The count is the number of books I recorded for the KOLL on the first of that month. I considered counting, say, March 1st as being the February number, but I decided not to do that.
BPT is the number of Borrows Per Title. I divided the number of borrows by the count.
The number of titles is growing…the number of borrows is not growing as quickly, and has even gone down.
This suggests to me that Amazon is succeeding in getting independent publishers to go into the KOLL, giving Amazon more exclusives…but the number of borrows are being concentrated in fewer books. Fewer people making more money…
I thought perhaps the most popular books in the
were going to be traditionally published books (I expected Suzanne Collins), but right now at any rate, that’s not the case.
The top five are:
- A Walk in the Snark by Rachel Thompson
- The Mancode: Exposed by Rachel Thompson
- Sleeping with Paris by Juliette Sobanet
- Return to Paradise by Carol Grace
- Ripped Apart by Miriam Minger
Those are all independently published, I believe.
If borrows continue to decline, would Amazon drop the KOLL?
I don’t think so. I don’t think the number of borrows impacts them all that much, if it looks good. More exclusive titles looks good. More “no additional cost” titles looks good. The pay per borrow going up looks good.
That last one is like a lot of businesses: a few people may make a lot of money, and that attracts people who think that it can happen for them. I believe it used to be true that most union actors were under the poverty level…but some made a lot of money. Most professional baseball players (going down to the feeder leagues) don’t make much money…but some make tons.
The same has been true of authors…and maybe, it’s true of authors in the KOLL.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.