A closer look at the KOLL #1

A closer look at the KOLL #1

Amazon introduced the

Kindle Owners Lending Library

on November 2nd, 2011.

This no additional cost benefit for eligible Prime members who own a hardware Kindle has grown incredibly quickly…the first time I got a count on the titles, it was 5,156. Now, not even two years later, the count is 351,178. That’s an average of over 600 books added…per day!

Now, it’s worth noting that books go in and come out of the KOLL. When independent publishers using Kindle Direct Publishing put their books into the library (using a program called KDP Select), they have to have the books there exclusively during that period. That doesn’t mean you can’t also buy them from Amazon, but the publisher (and that’s often just the author) can’t sell them anywhere else. So, publishers might bounce books into and out of the KOLL, and I do think that happens.

I’ve been using it every month, and I do think if that was the only reason I had Prime, I would have saved more than the annual cost of Prime. However, I can’t say I would have bought all of the books I’ve read through it…in fact, I can confidently say I wouldn’t have done so.

That got me thinking: what sorts of books are in the KOLL?

I can’t tell you which books are most borrowed: what I can see is what are the most popular books that are in the KOLL. It’s possible that a book is very popular, and in the KOLL, and not being borrowed much…no good way to tell.

First, let’s look at the categories in the KOLL:

Literature & Fiction 159,805
Romance 41,646
Religion & Spirituality 40,798
Professional & Technical 32,184
Children’s Books 29,023
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 28,502
Self-Help 27,306
Science Fiction & Fantasy 26,226
Education & Reference 23,119
Health, Fitness & Dieting 21,986
Business & Investing 20,162
Christian Books & Bibles 17,352
Humor & Entertainment 16,614
Biographies & Memoirs 13,610
Arts & Photography 12,899
Parenting & Relationships 11,210
Politics & Social Sciences 10,430
Cookbooks, Food & Wine 9,917
History 9,054
Crafts, Hobbies & Home 8,725
Travel 7,349
Computers & Technology 6,765
Science & Math 6,415
Sports & Outdoors 6,246
Medical Books 5,094
Comics & Graphic Novels 3,136
Gay & Lesbian 2,683
Law 1,960
Teens 425

For comparison, here is the general population of Kindle books:

Literature & Fiction 730,977
Professional & Technical 292,985
Education & Reference 229,451
Religion & Spirituality 221,409
Romance 215,050
Politics & Social Sciences 158,117
Business & Investing 127,741
History 124,208
Christian Books & Bibles 111,679
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 108,509
Science Fiction & Fantasy 104,180
Arts & Photography 102,076
Health, Fitness & Dieting 99,154
Children’s Books 97,457
Biographies & Memoirs 94,779
Self-Help 93,557
Science & Math 89,710
Humor & Entertainment 66,858
Medical Books 61,474
Computers & Technology 46,199
Crafts, Hobbies & Home 41,508
Parenting & Relationships 41,503
Sports & Outdoors 33,379
Travel 32,060
Law 31,226
Cookbooks, Food & Wine 27,855
Gay & Lesbian 22,302
Teens 17,677
Comics & Graphic Novels 17,328

When you look at those two, the available titles don’t look massively different. Even though they aren’t in the same order, 17 of the top twenty categories (out of 29) are the same.

The three that are in the top for the KOLL and not for the general population?

Parenting & Relationships
Cookbooks, Food & Wine
Crafts, Hobbies & Home

How about when we look at popularity?

KOLL GP Same?
Romance Romance Yes
Cookbook Cookbook Yes
Crafts, Hobbies & Home Crafts, Hobbies & Home Yes
Crafts, Hobbies & Home Crafts, Hobbies & Home Yes
Health, Fitness & Dieting Health, Fitness & Dieting Yes
Cookbook Cookbook Yes
Cookbook Cookbook Yes
Business & Investing Business & Investing Yes
Professional & Technical Comics & Graphic Novels No
Computers & Technology Professional & Technical No

Nine out of the top ten are the same, with the first eight in the exact same order!

Hm…this suggests that being popular in the KOLL might have a massive impact on being popular in the general population, although it’s possible that a popular book is a popular book in either case.

Let me try taking a look at books that are not in the KOLL.

That changes things!

We have to get to #9 in the general population before we find a book that isn’t also in the KOLL.

Here are the top ten ranked books not in the KOLL (with their ranks in the general population):

Rank Pre-order Free
9 No No
12 Yes No
20 No No
21 No No
24 Yes Yes
25 Yes Yes
26 No No
28 Yes No
29 Yes No
30 No Yes

In other words, two thirds of the top thirty books in the Kindle store are in the KOLL! We used to have people thinking that the most popular books aren’t part of the deal…and if you were looking at tradpubs (traditional publishers), that would likely be true.

The tradpubs don’t rule the Kindle store any more, though.

You can see from the two other columns above that half of the ones not in the KOLL are only available through pre-order. I’m sure they can’t be in the KOLL while that’s the case, so they might be in there after release.  Three of them are also free…you can have a free book in the KOLL, but I”m not sure if a search will find it as Prime eligible. Oh, I just checked: yes, a book will be found by the search I used as both free and in the KOLL.

I find this quite interesting. First, that a book in the KOLL appears to be much more popular as a part of the general population than one that isn’t. Why is that? Does being in the KOLL drive sales? Maybe…especially for less-well known authors. Maybe it’s that borrows in the KOLL drive the book up the bestseller list… a lot.

Second, my intuition was that people might tend to borrow non-fiction, including things like cookbooks, relatively more than fiction. I don’t think people tend to re-read non-fiction as much. That’s not obvious from the figures.

I may do this again later on…I always like to see what happens over time. 🙂

Anything stand out to you in this research? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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

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3 Responses to “A closer look at the KOLL #1”

  1. Zebras Says:

    I was surprised on a recent Kindle Discussion thread about comparing Prime vs Netflix, how adamant people were about Prime being for free shipping and the rest was just add ons. The free shipping was first, but as you did the math, the KOLL could be valued to “cover” the annual cost, the shipping could or the Prime movies/tv shows could, and if you utilize all three, its definitely a bargain.

    I really don’t find the quality of KOLL books are that good. The most valued ones tend to also be available through the libraries. So, I would not sign up for Prime based on the KOLL by itself.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      Yes, that sort of dogmatism can be amusing. Why does it matter if someone picks Prime for one reason or another? I think the motivation for the…strong response is when people accuse the KOLL or Prime streaming as not being worth $79 a year, which is arguably a false accusation (since they aren’t designed to be). However, I’m pretty sure I saved $79 on the KOLL last year…and I used streaming video as well. The “Prime” reason 😉 was for shipping, but if somebody doesn’t see it that way, what does it hurt?

      I’ve also read some wonderful books in the KOLL. The original James Bond books are there, as are the Hunger Games, Water for Elephants…and I read The Last Lecture there, although it isn’t part of the KOLL now, I believe.

  2. Decade 1: the first ten years of the Kindle | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] KOLL explanatory post […]

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