Kindle Unlimited borrows to feature in new Amazon Charts

Kindle Unlimited borrows will be included in the new Top 20 Most Sold chart launched by Amazon this week.

Amazon is also introducing a Top 20 Most Read chart, the first-ever best-seller list to measure the books that Amazon.com customers are really reading and listening to by looking at the average number of daily Kindle readers and Audible listeners.

The company describes Amazon Charts as ‘a reimagined weekly bestseller list that shares which books are being read the most and which books have sold the most across all formats each week’.

Indie authors could get a boost from the inclusion of Kindle Unlimited in the Top 20 Most Sold list due to KU featuring a large proportion of Amazon Publishing imprints and indies as the major traditional publishers do not take part in the scheme.

To qualify for the Most Sold list, a Kindle Unlimited book has to be read to about the length of a free reading sample, which is usually reckoned to be 10% of a book.

The Most Sold list ranks books according to the number of copies sold or pre-ordered through Amazon.com, Audible.com, Amazon Books stores, and books read through digital subscription programs once a customer has read a certain percentage — roughly the length of a free reading sample. Bulk buys are counted as a single percentage.

Kindle Unlimited is not mentioned explicitly in the criteria for the Most Read list which sets out — Amazon’s Most Read charts rank titles by the average number of daily Kindle readers and Audible listeners each week. Categories not ranked on Most Read charts include dictionaries, encyclopedias, religious texts, daily devotionals and calendars.

I would imagine KU is included across ‘daily Kindle readers’ but it’s not spelled out. It’s interesting to note that the Most Read chart is ranking titles by the ‘average number of daily Kindle readers’ rather than the total number of readers or total pages read.

Indie publishers don’t fare as well in the initial new charts released this week as they generally do on the Kindle best-sellers’ list.

Amazon says the new charts include data across all reading formats — whether books are bought or borrowed, listened to or read — to reflect how readers are reading and buying books.

There is a slight flaw in the whole concept, in that while it’s easy enough to tot up overall sales of books across all formats — print books, ebooks and audiobooks — finding and charting what people are actually reading can only be done by tracking digital books — ebooks and audiobooks — and only those sold or borrowed through Kindle. Even Amazon can’t, as yet, track whether you are actually reading the print book you bought.

It makes for a rather unequal comparison as the Most Read list (ebooks and audiobooks only) can’t really be compared against the Most Sold list as that includes print books as well.

It would make for a more interesting comparison if Amazon added another chart of Most Sold covering ebooks and audiobooks only, which could then be assessed against the Most Read list of ebooks and audiobooks.

Amazon says customers have asked for a sales list based on engagement and sales. Amazon vice-president David Naggar says, “When friends make a book recommendation, they recommend books they are really reading and loving. Many well-known bestseller lists today add, remove, or re-rank books based on editorial considerations and customers have asked for a bestseller list that is based on reading engagement and sales data, rather than an opinion-based list of what books they should be paying attention to. We’re excited to give book lovers Amazon Charts to help them discover their next great read.”

It’s interesting to compare the first Amazon Charts against the current Best Sellers (Friday, May 19) in the Amazon.com Kindle Store. I’m only going to take the top 10 to make it manageable. Big 5 publisher unless noted otherwise:

Kindle Store Best Sellers:

1: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

2: Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner (Thomas & Mercer — Amazon Publishing imprint)

3: Beneath a Scarlet Sky (Lake Union — Amazon Publishing imprint)

4: Say You’re Sorry by Melinda Leigh (Montlake Romance — Amazon Publishing imprint)

5: A Merciful Death by Kendra Elliot (Montlake Romance — Amazon Publishing imprint)

6: Bound to You by Tia Lewis (Indie)

7: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (Pottermore)

8: Beach Lawyer by Avery Duff (Thomas & Mercer — Amazon Publishing imprint)

9: Silent Child by Sarah A Denzil (Indie)

10: Split Second by Douglas E Richards (Indie)[clear-line]

There’s only one Big 5 publisher in the Kindle Best Seller Top 10 — Houghton Mifflin Harcourt with The Handmaid’s Tale.

There are five books from Amazon Publishing imprints and three indie authors who are basically self-publishers. The other one in the Top 10 is from Pottermore which, arguably, is also an indie.


Amazon Charts:

Top 10 Most Sold Books of the Week

1: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

2: Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

3: 16th Seduction by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

4: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan (Lake Union — Amazon Publishing imprint)

5: The Fix by David Baldacci

6: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

7: Dead Certain by Adam Meltzer (Thomas & Mercer — Amazon Publishing imprint)

8: Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss

9: The Letter by Kathryn Hughes

10: Golden Prey by John Sandford[clear-line]

A big turn-round here as eight of the Top 10 are from traditional publishers and just two from Amazon Publishing imprints.

There are only three books which appear on both the Top 20 Most Sold chart and the Kindle Best Sellers list.


Amazon Charts:

Top 10 Most Read Books of the Week

1: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

2: The Fix by David Baldacci

3: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

4: Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan (Lake Union — Amazon Publishing imprint)

5: Golden Prey by John Sandford

6: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (Pottermore)

7: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

8: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (Pottermore)

(Originally called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the UK)

9: It by Stephen King

10: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (Pottermore)[clear-line]

Only one Amazon imprint here and no bona fide indie. There are six books here that are also on the Most Sold chart and three books that are also on the Kindle Best Sellers Top 10.

But the most fascinating point is there are three Harry Potter books here while there’s only a single Potter entry on the Kindle list — HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone — and none on the Most Sold list. It’s worth noting that all three of these Harry Potter books are available on Kindle Unlimited.


These are some of the facts picked out in the first new Amazon Charts this week:

  • More people listened to the audiobook of Into the Water by Paula Hawkins than read the book on Kindle.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the shortest book on the Most Read Fiction Chart while Stephen King’s It is the longest.
  • The most Unputdownable book on the Most Sold list is A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas as Kindle and Audible readers finish it faster than similar books.
  • Indie author Sarah A Denzil is at No 16 on the Most Read list with Silent Child while another indie, Winter Renshaw, takes 19th spot and the Unputdownable accolade on the same list with The Perfect Illusion which Kindle and Audible readers finish it faster than similar books.

Amazon Charts features include:

  • What’s really being read: Amazon Charts Top 20 Most Read is the first list to rank books by the average number of daily Kindle readers and daily Audible listeners each week — giving customers the opportunity to see what’s actively being read or listened to every week.
  • What’s really being bought or borrowed: Amazon Charts Top 20 Most Sold ranks books according to the number of copies sold and pre-ordered through Amazon.com, Audible.com and Amazon Books stores and books borrowed from Amazon’s subscription programs such as Kindle Unlimited, Audible.com, and Prime Reading.
  • The stories behind the books: When exploring Amazon Charts, readers can browse fun insights into how other readers are reacting to each book. From which books were Most Anticipated according to the rate of customer pre-orders, to which Kindle books were simply Unputdownable, according to how quickly customers read a book from cover to cover.
  • Customers can find out what the latest trending books are with Amazon Charts on Alexa. Just say, “Alexa, what are the most popular books this week?”

There are also non-fiction charts for Most Read and Most Sold. You can find out more and see which books made the inaugural Top 20 Most Read and Top 20 Most Sold fiction and non-fiction at Amazon Charts.

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