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Kindle Short Reads – The Impact of The New Kindle Unlimited Royalties

Kindle Short Reads, Short Stories, Short Books: Myth Busting Time

April 23, 2015 | March 2019 UPDATE — There have been a lot of discussions on the topic of short reads and book page lengths, especially in light of the Kindle Unlimited 2.0 royalty system. Let’s have a look at some recent opinions and facts. As ever so often,  the common belief is not supported by the most recent fact base we have on the Kindle market. On top, you find the update link to our most recent Short Reads Study 2019.

PO Short Reads Inforgraphic Title Only FB

E-Book Page Length (Kindle Estimated Print Length)

OPINION: “Books are getting shorter, especially under the old Kindle Unlimited royalty scheme, where people tried to trick the system.”

FACT: “Yes, book page lengths have dropped by some 5% since the first introduction of KU last year. However, the trend started way before that. Average book page lengths in the top seller lists are still clearly above 250 pages for most high-selling genres.”

PO Book Page Length

Reader Preferences Concerning Book Length

OPINION: “Today’s readers want shorter reads.”

FACT: “Well, not really. Reader satisfaction, as expressed by book review ratings increases with the length of the book; conversely, average ratings drop the shorter the book — at least in the Short Reads segment.”

PO Reader Page Length Preference

Kindle Short Stories – Recent Decline

OPINION: “Short Reads and Short Stories are a huge growth market on Kindle.”

FACT: About one quarter (24%) of all available English Kindle titles are short reads. The genre ‘Short Stories’ showed significant improvement in sales rank between June 2014 and March 2015. Since April this year, the genre has seen a significant “cool down”, accelerating after the KU 2.0 release.

PO Short Stories Market

Kindle Unlimited – Are People Staying With KDP Select Or Pulling Out?

OPINION: “People pull their books from KDP Select due to the new pay-per-page-read royalty scheme for borrows.”

FACT: July 1st, just around the time when the new royalty scheme was announced, 29% of all English Kindle books were Kindle Unlimited eligible. Two months later, September 1, 2015, the KU Unlimited penetration is — well — exactly the same, namely 29%. Conclusion: no change. What is even more striking is the fact there is also no change in the Kindle Unlimited penetration among Kindle Shorts. The share of Kindle Unlimited titles is significantly higher compared to the whole Kindle book market; however this share remains unchanged at 41% two months after the introduction of “Kindle Unlimited 2.0”.

PO KU Share

Do Authors and Publishers Exit KDP Select? – No Way!

OPINION: “Many people have even pulled their books from Amazon completely – especially in the genres most affected by the new royalty scheme.”

FACT: E-Book supply continues to grow across virtually all main Kindle genres. Ironically, this month the growth in number of available titles was even the highest, in exactly those genres that suffer the most under the new royalty scheme: the genres with short average page lengths and a high penetration of KU Unlimited eligible titles.

PO Kindle Page Lengths August 201

Note: The graph above and below use “Kindle Estimate Print Length”. This is the book-length indication on the sales page of each Kindle title.  The value is computed with the same or similar settings as the new Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) but can differ from it.

PO Kindle Pages vs KU Penetration

The red shaded book genres (Kindle categories, level 1) are those that exhibit a high share of Kindle Unlimited eligible title and a relatively low page length (i.e. short books that have a high ratio of titles that are eligible for borrowing under the Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime membership.) Despite the KU/KOLL 2.0 book supply is still growing, particularly in the “shorter book categories”. This is really surprising.

PO Book Supply Growth vs Page Lengths

So What Happens To Kindle Short Reads?

OPINION: “Short reads are dead under the new Kindle Unlimited royalty system.”

FACT: The new system only affects borrows for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime. You can still SELL Short Reads and Short Stories. However, the market has become highly competitive. Our study shows that 10% out of 144 Short Read segments and 30% out of the 35 Short Story sub-categories show a favorable sales-to-competition ratio. So you have to know the high-performing market niches.

PO Short Reads Strategy Map

Well, that’s all for today…

Happy publishing!

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Further Study – Update 2019:

(K-lytics PREMIUM and ELITE members can download the report for free in the custom report section of the members area)

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