9 of the top 20 USA Kindle store book bestsellers are in Kindle Unlimited

9 of the top 20 USA Kindle store book bestsellers are in Kindle Unlimited

I have been a happy member of

 Kindle Unlimited ((at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Amazon’s $9.99 subser (subscription service…”all you can read” option) since it started.

I don’t know that I actually save money, typically…but I am reading more expensive books. 🙂 I’ve read three of Marko Kloos’ Frontlines series recently through KU…and those are $4.99 each, so in that case, it did save me money.

Quick comment on those books: I did think the second one:

Lines of Departure (Frontlines Book 2) (at AmazonSmile*)

was a really good book, much better than the first (which was still good). The three books together make a solid read, and I suppose you should start with the first one…but hang in there. The second one has a lot more character value, where the first one is much more just situational…in my opinion. 😉

The value of KU just keeps increasing. There are well over a million books in it now, and quantity does count.

So does popularity, though.

Of the top ten USA Kindle bookstore bestsellers at time of writing, nine of them are in KU!

Now, the bestselling Kindle store books don’t match up with the New York Times bestseller…Amazon’s own traditional publishing imprints are high up on the list. Part of that is the

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

program, where Amazon Prime members can get one pre-publication books to own (not borrow) a month (that seems to be working).

I do still think we could see one of the Big 5 USA trade publishers have a significant presence in KU: not the frontlist, probably, but some of the backlist, before the end of this year.

I suppose the story here may be how Amazon needs the tradpubs (traditional publishers) less than they used to need them…at least in terms of Kindle books. Amazon doesn’t seem to be making that much progress with their own tradpubbed books in paper (at least, looking at the New York Times hardback fiction bestsellers), but in e-books? Bullseye!

KU is not for everyone, and it doesn’t serve all of the needs of many people who have it. Still, if you can gift a single month at the holidays, I think that would be super popular. I’d give it as a gift, for sure…maybe several of them!

It feels to me like Amazon is going to look at an exceptional holiday season for consumer sales!

Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy suggested that books may be at the top of the list if they have recently come off the freebie list. I thought that used to be true more than it is now, so I wanted to a bit more analysis and add it to this post.

I used


to look at the pricing histories of the current top 10 (those may have changed since I first published the post yesterday…the list updates every hour). I only did ten instead of twenty like yesterday…partially because the list might update before I finished it (that gets confusing), partially because it seemed representative, and well, it was easier. 😉

I consider eReaderIQ to be the most valuable resource for Kindleers on the web…I’m not associated with them, by the way, although we have had some correspondence and I’ve made some suggestions to them.

Here are my findings…I’m only detailing books not by the Big 5 publishers…those won’t have been free:

  1. Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán. Not KU, but it will be once it is officially released on November 1st. This is one of the Kindle First picks for this month. That means it is free for Prime members (they can pick usually one per month). They do own it…but does that count as a paid sale? You would think not. Amazon has a separate list for freebies. People can pre-order it…but I didn’t think pre-orders counted until the day of release (when we are billed for it). Calling this a paid bestseller seems a bit…questionable to me | 4.6 stars out of 5 | 144 customer reviews $5.99 (no price changes in the past 30 days)
  2. The Air He Breathes by Brittainy Cherry. KU | 4.7 stars | 676 reviews (it was $0.99 in the beginning of September, has been $2.99 since)
  3. The Martian by Andy Weir $8.99
  4. The Survivor by Vince Flynn $14.99
  5. Bad Boy Daddy by Chance Carter. KU | 4.5 stars | 414 reviews $0.99 (no price tracking data…released October 3)
  6. The Mentor by Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli (translated by Aaron Maines) Kindle First for November 1st (see #1) | 3.9 stars | 70 reviews $5.99…published by Amazon
  7. The Prettiest One by James Hankins KU  | 4.1 stars | 791 reviews $5.99 (price has been steadily 5.99 since August 18th…$4.99 before)
  8. The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner KU | 3.7 stars | 2,870 reviews $4.99 (price steady since August)
  9. Owned by the Bad Boy by Vanessa Waltz KU | 45 stars | 89 reviews $0.99 (price steady since September 30)
  10. Last Immortal Dragon: Dragon Shifter by T.S. Joyce KU | 4.9 stars | 106 reviews (no price history)

Fascinating! Outside of the Kindle First books (I don’t why they are on this list at all at this point), these do appear to me to be legitimate sales…

What do you think? Can Amazon do anything to replicate the digital success of its tradpubbed e-books in p-books? Is KU increasingly attractive to you? Why aren’t Big 5 books more prominent in the Kindle book bestseller lists? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


6 Responses to “9 of the top 20 USA Kindle store book bestsellers are in Kindle Unlimited”

  1. Phink Says:

    I am glad you commented on the Frontline series. I read the first book, ‘Terms of Enlistment’ a couple years ago and thought it was good but not great and not good enough to read the sequel. I might need to pick up the 2nd book now and give it a try. However, there is a problem with that. I am not the best at long term memory when it comes to books. Sometimes I forgot how a book ended that I read just a year or so ago and I certainly don’t remember all the details even a few weeks after I read it. I have forgotten almost the entire book. I’m not sure I want to re-read it in order to read the 2nd one.

    Are they called ‘Clift Notes’, ‘Cliff Notes, or what? I have never read one but I hear they are so detailed students sometimes use them to cheat rather than actually do a reading assignment. If that is true perhaps I could find those and read them in order to jog my memory on ‘Terms of Enlistment’. What do you think?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      I think you can read the second one with imperfect memory of the first. 🙂 I did think the second one was much better.

      They are actually “CliffsNotes”:


      However, they are really designed for students, and I’d be a bit surprised if the first book is being assigned in schools much. I didn’t see the book listed there.

      Many people who write reviews, though, oversummarize (in my opinion), which in this case could be useful.

      Outside of Amazon’s own product page, I usually like Shelfari (also owned by Amazon), Goodreads (also owned by Amazon), an Library Thing. In this case, I found the most useful ones on Library Thing:


      Skimming over that may refresh you…

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I think some of the books on the top seller list end up there because they have just come off the free list or because they have recently been featured as a KDD. I still struggle with the overall literary quality of some of the Amazon tradpub brand books. I’ve picked up a Kindle First every month since they’ve been offered. I’ve finished reading only 2 of them, and out of those 2, only one of them was interesting enough to make me look for the author again. The same goes for the majority of the free books I’ve picked up. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is an example of how an ordinary book can become an extraordinary book through the guidance of a good editor. Most Amazon books are examples of editors who fail to edit!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lady!

      I think the Amazon paid bestseller list being heavily books that were recently free used to be more true than it is now.

      The list updates every hour, although they may, of course, include data from more than an hour earlier (they don’t really give us the criteria, to my knowledge).

      Interestingly, the Kindle First books do appear in the top bunch, usually…even before they are released officially. They are available for pre-order before that, but I’m not sure pre-order counts for bestseller calculations prior to release (which is when we are billed, so when I assume the transaction takes place.

      Also, Kindle Unlimited borrows may count as sales. If they do, I don’t think that’s unreasonable…they shouldn’t be under the free books, because the reader is paying for it (in the subscription fee).

      I’ll do a bit more analysis and update the post. 🙂

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