Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library program for Amazon Prime members continued to grow robustly in January, with the number of KDP Select ebooks borrowed under the program growing to about 437,000, from 295,000 in December.
Based on January royalty reports posted today for KDP Select participants, Amazon will pay out just over $1.60 to KDP Select participants for each of their Kindle book units that were borrowed during January, from the $700,000 fund that Amazon established for the month. For many participating authors the Kindle Lending Library program now constitutes 20 to 40 percent of their overall Kindle royalties, and may well offset any loss of revenue from other retailers due to Amazon’s controversial exclusivity requirement for KDP Select enrollment.
Titles available to Amazon Prime members through the Kindle Lending Library have grown from about 5,400 to over 106,000 since Amazon opened the program to indie authors and other Kindle Direct Publishing publishers via the KDP Select program on December 8. Although the vast majority of Kindle Lending Library titles are KDP Select titles, no figures have been made available from Amazon on participation or borrowing levels for larger, corporate piblishers. However, aside from the three titles in Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, all of the 20 most popular Kindle Lending Library titles appear to be indie, KDP Select titles.
Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library program allows Amazon Prime members to borrow up to one eligible title per month for free reading, with no fixed due dates. The program is the third and most recently added customer benefit for the $79-per-year Amazon Prime Program, along with free two-day shipping on millions of Amazon store items and free access to about 15,000 Prime Instant Video movie and TV titles. More information about Amazon Prime is available here.
The newer Amazon Prime benefits are especially well suited for Kindle Fire owners, since the Fire tablet is an instant delivery system for ebooks and video. However, it will be interesting to see if the dramatic initial growth of the Kindle Lending Library program can be sustained, and Amazon’s funding pool for the slightly shorter February period has been set at $600,000. For some significant number of people, the personal administrative demands of repeated monthly borrowing may prove to be too much of a hassle: the economic profile of Kindle owners has only partial overlap with coupon clippers or those who, in an earlier generation, collected S&H green stamps.
On the other hand, access to Kindle Lending Library eligibility and zero-price promotions (which were also rolled out for KDP authors and publishers on December 8), may be producing a counter-force against what some have seen as the downward spiral of Kindle Store prices for indie authors. Many authors who had previously thought it necessary to lower prices to 99 cents in order to get customers’ attention are now doing well with a combination of slightly higher prices, free Kindle Lending Library offers, the occasional zero-price promotion, and marketing programs such as those offered via Kindle Nation Daily.
Participating KDP Select authors and publishers can check their own December and January borrowing levels and compensation on their KDP monthly royalty reports: