There are over a million e-books you can’t read, unless…

There are over a million e-books you can’t read, unless…

People used to be really concerned when Amazon would get the exclusive rights to a book.

They didn’t want one company controlling our literature. It wasn’t just Amazon, of course: Barnes & Noble had exclusives, too.

I’d say there was more pushback about Amazon, though.

I’ve written posts about Amazon having e-book exclusives on certain books by

  • Catherine Cookson
  • Albert Einstein
  • David Morrell
  • Ron Paul

and more.

Amazon even has a section on the store for exclusives:

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

How many exclusives?

Well over a million!

1,262,865 to be exact.

Think about that…when the USA Kindle store opened in 2007, it didn’t have 100,000 titles…not a tenth of what they now have exclusively.

That’s about 28% of the total titles in the store.

How did that happen?

Mostly through Amazon’s independent publishing platform, which is now called Kindle Direct Publishing.

These are the numbers (you’ll notice that they add up to more than the total number…that’s because a title can appear in more than one category):

Exclusive Content

Looking at the ten most reviewed, the top one has over 10,000 reviews…that’s a lot of reviews! It also means a lot of engagement. It’s the Wool omnibus by Hugh Howey.

I’ve read that one…and my Significant Other and I have both read the second one, Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim.

I looked as far as the top fifty…and they were all part of

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

meaning that members of that subser (subscription service) paying $9.99 a month can read them at no additional cost.

This is all very impressive to me.

I was curious, so I checked Barnes & Noble’s NOOK book store.

They have a total of 731,896.

That’s right…Amazon has about half again as many exclusive e-books as the NOOK book store has books!

Is this dangerous?

If Amazon went out of business, would we lose access to over half a million books?

It could be tricky: these books are, after all, exclusively with Amazon. There might be some kind of rights reversion, so that the authors could license them to some other publisher, but I don’t know that.

What do you think? Is it a bad thing that Amazon is the exclusive publisher for so many books? Does it make a difference to you? When was the last time you looked at the Barnes & Noble books? Does this increasingly make Amazon independent of the Big Five publishers? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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* 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.


3 Responses to “There are over a million e-books you can’t read, unless…”

  1. Zebras Says:


    I don’t think its bad that Amazon has the exclusivity, because without the Kindle Direct Publishing and its counterpart at B&N, we wouldn’t have any opportunity to read the combined 1.9 million books that weren’t being published by the traditional publishers.

    I love how my reading taste has significantly widened with exposure to books that don’t fit the limited categories and size that the big publishers tend to adhere to.

    I would imagine that there must be some legal precedence for authors who have deals with publishers who go out of business. Perhaps as part of the process of closing down, they might even sell their contractual obligations to another publisher. This is just a guess, I really have no idea. Never had the concentration to write things that are much longer than posts on your site! Unless you want a complete write-up of a major corporation’s employee stock purchase plan! LOL

  2. Man in the Middle Says:

    I have some sympathy for authors who avoid making their books available under Kindle Unlimited because they don’t want them available ONLY on the Kindle. As Amazon’s dominance of Ebooks increases, Amazon would be wise to avoid requirements of exclusivity, lest governments get interested in breaking any alleged monopoly power by Amazon.

    On the other hand, having already paid for Kindle Unlimited, I have no need to pay even $1 a book to find more Ebooks worth my reading time, let alone the insanely-above $10 prices now routinely offered by major publishers. I’m guessing that the “big 6” won’t be big much longer if they don’t find a way to sell Ebooks profitably under $3 as Amazon does.

    I also applaud publishers who do away with DRM. The music industry fought that battle tooth and nail and lost, as well they should have. Once I’ve bought a song or book, it morally should be mine to play or read for myself on any device I choose, whether or not the artist or author or publisher is still in business. And like you, I’m offended by blocking of text to speech. We still keep an old Kindle that can do TTS around for road trips. I tried Audible once, as an alternative, but found it a big hassle, and much more costly than having a book read by a human rather than a robot is worth to me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Man!

      The legal argument that exclusivity equals a monopoly can be a tricky one. If Amazon (or Kobo or Barnes & Noble or…) is the only source for a given title, that seems to be acceptable. If they are maneuvering things so that they are the only place you can get e-books period, then I think we’d see the Department of Justice get involved.

      I think the Big 5 can stay big as long as brick-and-mortars are a significant market segment. If that ends (it hasn’t yet), then the tradpubs (traditional publishers) lose the advantage that scale givens them…and they become less dominant.

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