Kindle Unlimited is a great service for both readers and authors. Readers get to choose from a bevy of books for a low monthly subscription, while authors can obtain a piece of that pie if their books are borrowed. However, there have been some concerns from publishers and authors about this service. Since they can get so many books for a low price, is Unlimited and similar services killing book sales? We’ll explore that question here. This information is obtained from a recent Nielsen report that tracked down important spending and demographic information that will be essential to any author going forward.
How many book buyers are enlisted in a subscription service? Since it’s such a good idea you might think that it’s a lot, but only about four percent of buyers have a subscription (10% if you include Amazon Prime members). While this four percent is crucial, as we’ll explain later, it’s still just a very, very small piece of the buyer market. Even still, a lot of attention has been put on this group from the very start.
Not only that, but you might be surprised to know that even though females tend to buy more books than males, males made up the slight majority of subscribers. About 59 percent of subscribers are male, whereas 55 percent of book buyers are female. It’s still fairly equal both ways, but it gives you an interesting look into these group of buyers.
Another thing gleaned from the Nielsen report (http://the-digital-reader.com/2015/01/27/new-data-nielsen-book-shows-kindle-unlimited-subscribers-spend-books/) is the age of subscribers. It’s a fairly large gap, but the majority of subscribers (about 79 percent of these buyers) are between 18 to 44 years old. Those 18 to 29 make up about 35 percent of the subscriber base and 44 percent of those are between 30 and 44 years old.
Less than 10 percent of subscribers are 45 and older, with the number drastically falling off after 55 years old. This number is fairly consistent between all subscription services, even though these older buyers tend to gravitate towards Kindle Unlimited.
More or Less Money
Now that you understand the group of subscribers, let’s answer the important question: are these subscribers spending more or less money on books? The obvious answer would be that they are spending less money because they are getting all of their book needs for just $10 a month. However, the surprising truth is that these people are buying more.
How can that be? Well, let’s look at the difference in spending. Those who have a subscription tend to spend about $58 a month on books, but those without a subscription spend about $34. That’s a $24 difference per person. Not only that, but those who have a subscription would be willing to spend more on the service. Men who were polled with this question were willing to spend up to $17 on a subscription and women were willing to spend $14.
How is this possible? Part of it lies in the type of buyers. Those who have subscriptions are mavens, or big book buyers. They read more books per month, but more importantly, they buy more books overall. They are the biggest buyers, so it’s just natural that they would spend more money.
However, let’s look a little deeper into the reasoning behind the higher spending to see if we should really start celebrating Kindle Unlimited.
Kindle Unlimited offers a massive number of books, so why are subscribers spending more than $10 a month on books? It’s due to the selection. If they could get all the books they needed, then there would be no reason to spend more money, at least that’s how the theory is going.
Many analysts are saying that this shouldn’t be a celebration of the subscriber model, but rather a lesson in how important limited selection is. Books from the big publishers are primarily not included in Unlimited, which forces these users to buy extra books outside of their subscription.
It would be interesting to see if these book buyers were spending more before their subscription, but the latest Nielsen report doesn’t have that information. Truth is, if these subscriptions take over, then book sales might permanently plummet.
For the time being, the trend is that subscribers spend more on books because they consume more than other buyers. While it’s difficult to say now whether or not this service will be positive or negative for the market years from now, but for now it’s boosted sales for everyone involved.
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