How many books were borrowed through Kindle Unlimited?

Image from Shutterstock.

Image from Shutterstock.


Amazon KDP now shows the number of pages read (KENP read, or Kindle Edition Normalized Pages read).

The KDP reports no longer show the number of books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime.

Although it’s nice to see the number of pages read, this data would be more meaningful if we knew how many books were borrowed.

That way, if you saw 200 KENP read in your report, you would know if 1 person read 200 pages or if 4 people each read 50 pages.

There is a way to get more information, though not quite as much as you might like:

  • Visit your Sales Dashboard at KDP by clicking Reports.
  • (Note the blue circle with the question mark at the top right. It doesn’t work presently, but it may be a sign of more information to come.)
  • Scroll down to the very bottom and click the Generate Report button.
  • Open the spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (for example).
  • Scroll down to the very bottom of the spreadsheet.
  • Note that there are three tabs: (1) Royalty Report (2) Orders Report (3) KU-KOLL Unit Report.
  • Click on the middle tab, Orders Report.
  • This shows the breakdown of KENP read per book per country per day. (It also breaks down your sales.)

Unfortunately, the third tab (KU-KOLL Unit Report) stops after June 30. It sounds like what you want, but it’s not for July.

The middle tab (Orders Report) provides a helpful breakdown. But it’s inconvenient to get there, and it still doesn’t show you quite what you want.

Maybe this will improve. I’ve heard from hundreds of authors who would like to see the number of borrows in the reports.

But it doesn’t help to tell me. Visit Amazon KDP and click on the Contact Us button in the corner. It took a long time and a large number of requests, but reporting has changed in the past and we have pre-orders—authors have requested these features for years and they finally came. If you want something, ask for it. Otherwise, how will they know what you want?

Why doesn’t the report show the number of borrows?

There are a few theories for why the reports don’t show the number of Kindle Unlimited (or Amazon Prime) borrows.

Perhaps they just forgot or didn’t realize its importance. That seems doubtful. But perhaps.

Maybe most customers don’t start reading the book after they download it, and Amazon doesn’t want authors to freak out when they see several borrows, but zero pages read.

But that has an easy fix: Don’t show all borrows; just show borrows where the book has actually been opened.

However, what if many customers only read a few pages and discard the book. It could happen, since there really is no incentive for Kindle Unlimited customers to check out the Look Inside. Since they can read for free, they might just download it and skip the middle man.

It might not be a sign that the book is bad. It might just be a matter of taste. Oh, I didn’t realize this was a mystery. Oops! A mere 3 pages read.

Knowledge is power, though. If we see that most customers are only getting partway through our books, wouldn’t we feel inclined to try to make our books more engaging?

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

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  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
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  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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10 comments on “How many books were borrowed through Kindle Unlimited?

  1. I was wondering about that. Not sure if I would like both up there. Too many numbers can get confusing and you start obsessing about the low ones when the high ones are worth noting. Kind of like information overload.

  2. “If we see that most customers are only getting partway through our books, wouldn’t we feel inclined to try to make our books more engaging?” you ask.

    Don’t authors do this by default? I must be naive. Unless you are referring to the authors who write books deliberately so the reader might get to the 10% mark (in the former KU system this was all they needed). If so, those writers were depending on a constant influx of NEW readers, because that behavior would not get an intelligent reader to want more books from that author.

    I’d call that behavior ‘gaming the system,’ but from the attitudes I’ve seen expressed (outrage over the change to pages read), those writers who did that call it ‘feeding my children.’

    For fiction, yes – do everything you can to make the books engaging. For other kinds of books, many are sold/borrowed which neither the writer nor the reader intend to be read completely in one sitting from beginning to end (the book attracts all kinds of readers, because it has sections that interest different readers, like travel information).

    Amazon releases a lot of data, but it is all proprietary information that gives them a competitive edge in the marketplace, and as long as they satisfy their customers, they are not in the business of making their suppliers’ lives easier. It’s nice if they do – but that is not business; it’s goodwill.

    What a business needs from its suppliers is an agreed quality of product delivered at the interface between them (and no egregious behavior, such as abominable working conditions, that would reflect badly on the business).

    The production of that quality product is our responsibility, the responsibility of writers as suppliers. (The abominable working conditions in this case are our problem – I KNOW I have to clean up my desk.)

    • I expect that most engaging books get read well, but many authors don’t sit down and focus on making the read engaging, yet these same authors (publicly, for I see it frequently now) wonder how much of their work is read. Many authors get their books off to slow starts, partly because they’ve seen their favorite authors do this, not realizing they need to grab attention quickly and hold it. Most authors tend to write what they want and hope that readers will enjoy it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it has merit. But those who are hoping to generate many sales, or those who are hoping to produce good reader engagement, well, the obvious solution is focus on writing that will be engaging from the get-go and throughout. I won’t publish my first novel unless I feel that it will be highly engaging, no because I will be sales-oriented with it so much as I want my fiction to engage its audience.

      • Lovely friends and family, readers of my FIRST novel, told me that once they got about a third of the way into the book, they couldn’t put it down.

        Most readers will NOT stick with an author through a third of anything longer than 3 pages. And they shouldn’t have to.

        Readers can take their consumer dollars and find something better instantaneously now – and writers who keep ignoring that are going to not be read or voted for or liked or recommended.

        If they can’t see that, slow or non-existent sales should tell it to them loud and clear.

        There are readers for EVERY possible niche – and in that niche, the engaging writers will get the readers’ custom. Survival of the fittest writ large.

  3. Chris, thanks for the information on the accounting portion of the KU program. It’s concise and informative and really helped me understand the reporting process, as it pertains to KU, much better. I was reluctant to sign up for KU, but on July 15, I took the leap and began to enroll all my books exclusively on KDP Select. I decided a 90-day commitment wouldn’t kill me. Here’s hoping that when I finally get a KU report, it will make my eyes light up.

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