Kindle Unlimited Subscribers Spend More on Books

Late last month I asked whether consumers were buying fewer books after switching to subscription ebook services like Scribd, Oyster, or Kindle Unlimited, and according to the latest info from Neilsen Book the answer is No.

A few details from the latest edition of the Nielsen Books & Consumers Market Research crossed my desk today, and this report shows that the subscribers in the UK and the US spend more on average than non-subscribers.

The data I have shows that about 4% of book buyers have subscribed to one of the standalone ebook subscription services. Curiously, when you add in the Amazon Prime members that figure jumps to 10%. It also shows that subscribers tend to be male (59%) while book buyers tended to be female:

RTEmagicC_nielsen2.jpg[1]When it comes to age, subscribers to any of the leading services tended to fall into the 18 to 44 years old age groups, while the older age groups were better represented among book buyers.

RTEmagicC_nielsen3.jpg[1]

But no matter the age, the survey group was spending a lot of money on books. As a group, subscribers had a monthly budget of $58, while non-subscribers had a budget of $34. The survey also showed that subscription customers were willing to pay more for their subscription than the standard flat rate of $9 to $10. Men were willing to pay an average of $17, while women would pay $14.

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That's an interesting survey report, isn't it?

I don't have all of the data, but one of my takeaways from what we do have is that publishers are right to be concerned about making their ebooks available through Oyster or Scribd.

In a trend which mirrors the rise of ebooks, the ebook subscriber base tends to be concentrated among the most profligate book buyers.  If more publishers signed up then those book buyers would have fewer reasons to buy outside of the service, and they could end up spending less money on books.

Jonathan Nowell, the President of Nielsen Book, laid out in his talk the week before last how print sales have declined with the rise of ebooks over the past 5 years, and I'm sure that's not a trend which publishers want to see repeated.

BuchReport.de

About Nate Hoffelder (10957 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on Kindle Unlimited Subscribers Spend More on Books

  1. But who’s getting the money? Amazon or the content-producers? That’s like saying the economy is doing great, but everyone could be working in Walmart.

  2. But who’s getting the money? Amazon or the content-producers?

    I’m not sure I understand this question. It’s not as if sales occurring outside the subscription service are somehow exempt from selling agreements between the store and publishers.

    If more publishers signed up then those book buyers would have fewer reasons to buy outside of the service, and they could end up spending less money on books.

    Would this necessarily follow? It seems that publishers are being somewhat strategic with the amount of content they’re making available… releasing just the first book in a mystery series, for example. If someone wants to read others in the series, then their options are 1. hope the publisher includes the other editions eventually or 2. buy them. Based on how the survey describes these readers, my guess is they’re inclined to buy.

  3. Given the history big publishers have in responding to changes in the marketplace, the fact that they are favoring Oyster and Scribd over KU probably means they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot again. Let’s review:

    1. Big publishers favor chain bookstores like Borders over Independent bookstores. Independent bookstores are hurt, Borders goes out of business.

    2. BP force Amazon to put DRM on ebooks, giving Amazon huge leverage over the market and their pricing.

    3. BP illegally conspire to raise prices on ebooks with Apple to stop Amazon. DOJ steps in, publishers forced to back down, iBooks store doesn’t compete with Amazon and now Apple is the only company that can lower prices on ebooks.

    4. BP favor Scribd and Oyster… ?

    I predict they will end up hurting their own Amazon sales (while encouraging Indy sales), and both of those companies will flounder and probably die, leaving Amazon in charge of the subscription market.

    • Well, if those Nielsen numbers are to be believed, subscriptions are bigger than Kobo and Amazon has 60% of the subscription ebook market. With an Indie-heavy catalog and with a sustainability pay out model.

      That suggests subscriptions aren’t going to dent Amazon’s market clout any more than the conspiracy did. On the other hand, the ebook retailers without a subscription sideline just might feel a pinch if the subscriptions endure. We may indeed see yet more victims of BPH friendly fire.

  4. Well, more publishers will get into sub services if there’s more money to be made in them. Right now, there isn’t a lot unless you game the system (and plugs for those holes are probably on the way.) Right now the only relevant factors from an author/publisher perspective are visibility and how being in KU affects rankings (so, visibility again.) There isn’t much money to be made for most people.

    • The BPHs have in the past eagerly and knowingly jumped into ventures that guaranteed less money to them and their authors so they just might do it again.
      At least subscriptions, so far, don’t seem to break federal law. 😉

      Contract law and fiduciary responsibility is another story, yet to be settled.

  5. I know as a Prime member, my spending has definitely increased on Amazon since becoming a member, so it makes sense that the spending may increase with Kindle Unlimited.

    However, as an author it has changed the landscape enough for me to reconsider how I write, publish and market my books, at least in the short term.

    The bottom line I think is you have to be willing to adapt to the market if you want to continue to play in this indie-publishing game.

8 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Nielsen Shows Kindle Unlimited Users Buy More Books | TechCrunch
  2. Amazon Prime Members Spending Big | Digital Book World
  3. Nielsen Shows Kindle Unlimited Users Buy More Books | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing
  4. eBook-Flatrate-Nutzer geben mehr Geld für Print-Bücher aus | eBook-Fieber.de
  5. What’s Your Income, Indies?
  6. Die K5 Morgenshow über die Buchbranche und ihre Startups | Exciting Commerce
  7. Does Kindle Unlimited Increase or Decrease Book Buying? | AmyHarrop.com
  8. Analysis: why ebook sales fell in 2015, and students prefer printed books • Wyld.Media

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