Why the demise of ARe and KU rankings will be a game changer

I've been doing some soul searching at chez Scott about Kindle Unlimited. Now don't get me wrong I'm so against KU - I've been around quite a few years and I have a loyal group of people who read me in ePub or PDF. I resolved to put all my new books wide, meaning Mobi, ePub or PDF, and I have nearly everything out there available in all formats.

We publish direct at Kobo and Amazon, and use an aggregator for everything else (Smashwords).

There was also ARe, which accounted for maybe 1/10th of my sales quarterly (or at least it used to until Autumn last year when sales began to drop there and rise instead at other places).

So where will the ARe buyers go?

I decided to look at the last four ARe reports and the file types bought and to demonstrate a couple of things I will be completely transparent about my ARe % sales...

This does not include free books. 

What this demonstrates is that just around 50% of my income from ARe was ePub, with the remainder split between PDF and Mobi fairly equally. Have any other authors ever analysed their sales from ARe - did you have a similar split?

So. Questions to ask, where are the 50% going to get their books now? I haven't had a new book out since the ARe implosion so I can't tell yet, but I imagine they are pretty stymied and will go to Smashword, B&N, Kobo? As to PDF, well the only place you can get that format now is Smashwords. 

Have those reading ePub converted to Kindle? And what about the 25% or so that bought Kindle from ARe, will they now go  to Amazon? Were the ARe sales mostly about the free ebook bucks they offered? Was it hatred for Kindle (I've seen this a lot, believe me). Was it about owning files?

Now, another interesting statistic is that the majority of my sales are through Amazon, by far my biggest market is Amazon.com, with UK following after. With potential Mobi sales from ARe switching to Amazon, will this make our books more visible to passing trade? Will more people join KU?

Also, I looked at Kindle.com at *books / gay lesbian/ lit and fic / fiction/ romance / gay*, the following positions were non-KU books.

7, 13, 17, 36, 39, 42, 53, 64, 66, 67, 81, 82, 83, 88, 89, 92, 95, 96, 97

That is three in the top 20, on page 1 of Amazon.com, and only 1 of those books is what we in the web design trade called *above the fold* ie, where you don't need to scroll to see them.

Only 19 out of the top 100 in Amazon.com at this moment for that category is non-KU, or *wide*.

So, should all authors be putting their books into KU? Should we adopt the all-eggs-in-one-basket that a lot of us swore we wouldn't do? Will ARe force us to do things we don't want to do if Mobi becomes the predominant document type??

Maybe 80% of my sales are Kindle Mobi from the different places - how long will it be until it has to be 100% and all in KU for the first three months? 


  1. That is a bit scary :-( I don't sell at anything like your level, but while I've had a slight uptick at Smashwords, by far the most sales are from the various Amazon sites. But I don't like the idea of KU. It's too easy for the sneaks to doctor the page read count.

  2. I have no intention of getting a kindle and have no use for KU if your books stop being formatted for epub then I simply stop reading them only bought from ARE if I couldn't get it from B&N

  3. So far, I really haven't seen much of a bump anywhere after the loss of ARe. Amazon appears to have risen some and publisher site sales has bumped a bit... but it's a bit too early to tell via Smashwords. They just went month to month, but the vendors are still paying out quarterly, so it's a wait and see at this stage...

    Will be interesting to see if anyone else has seen any differences.

  4. I was a big ARe user so have had to cast my net wide.
    At the moment I am trying to buy direct from publishers where possible but have up'd my Kobo and Smashword purchases.
    I do find Kobo expensive but Smashwords and the publishers are in USD so as well as exchange rate I usually get hit with a bank charge too. So it is either save up purchases until I have a lot to buy to reduce these effects or if a minimal saving I'll go to Kobo and pay in GBP.
    I guess my Amazon.co.uk purchase will increase but at the moment I am trying not to use them any more than I do now - I like using epub on my reader (though the options now in the UK for readers is really small)

  5. Going anon for this one. I trust Amazon as far as I can throw them lately. They managed to mess up the page reads for a lot of people. (Various theories, but the upshot is that sometimes a "read" is counted as one page...so a fraction of a penny per book read and borrowed.) As far as I can tell they haven't really fixed this. And book borrows DO cannibalize sales. So I think rank is not the only consideration. KU used to be an amazing place, and I was very happy there in our genre, but they managed to keep tweaking it until they weren't paying me properly for reads. I don't mean that they were paying less -- that I could deal with. I mean they weren't paying for reads because they "didn't register." This problem was never acknowledged, or as far as I can tell, fixed. My income has gone down since ARe went bust and KU stopped working. I'm hanging in there, fortunately some people still buy my things...but I would be very careful about trusting KU.)

  6. I have started buying books (ePub) from iTunes

  7. Being in the UK and not wanting to use the Kindle or other restrictive apps my choices are just one, Smashwords, some authors are able to use Bookstrand, so I get some there, otherwise I get from the publisher.

    I recently bought a couple of books from Amazon against my better judgement, thinking I could convert them to the formats I wanted, needless to say I wont make that mistake again, if an author ONLY uses Amazon then I will no longer buy their work

    1. This is perfectly possible using a program called Calibre

  8. I am a reader. I now use the kindle app on my ipad mainly. When I started, I used both ePub and mobi/prc files mainly. I originally bought on multiple websites such as Itunes, Ellors, Allure, Siren, Amazon, Dreamspinner, Extasy, one not to be named, ARe/Omni,etc.

    I bought on ARe, but not a lot of books because I found their website to be fairly annoying in terms of keeping track of books, it was hard to search and frustrating in terms of downloads.

    After the site not to be named, I generally bought your books on Amazon for three reasons. 1-I expect Amazon to stay in business, 2-the library keeps them grouped for me with various sort modes and 3-I can see instantly if I have already bought something [as long as it isn't a re-issue with a new isbn].

    I do not use KU at all, I prefer to own the book in my library to read at my leisure and I do not want an ongoing bill for a service that I would have to use on-line for the most part.

    So, my point comes down to this: As a reader, if I want to borrow a book I will go to the library where I can check it out for free; otherwise, I like to own them. My favorites are when I can purchase a print book with the ebook included at a reduced price.

  9. Even if you purchase from Amazon you don't have to keep the books in .mobi format but can use external programs to convert into any other file type.
    Yes, perhaps against the technical terms of an epurchase but not, imho anyway, wrong to do so when you've (generic) paid for a copy of a book.

  10. KU concerns me greatly for 3 reasons.

    Their "best sellers" are not my version of best sellers. I find it hard to believe that books avalable on KU are also their top sellers. KU has nothing to do with sales since it's a lending library. There should be 2 lists. It's difficult now to find new non KU books.

    If a book isn't listed on KU when it first comes out, the chances of readers finding it are slight unless they search by author. You can't search KU by entrance date, only by original publication date.

    And last, but probably most important to authors - I don't read online; I download to my computer because I don't have wifi so I don't even know if my reading is counted at all. When I finish a book, I go back to my library and return the book. So, does it count? Do authors get paid?

    As an aside, for those who think books they buy on Amazon will always be in their library? They're wrong. Believe me, I know.

  11. I love my Kindle, but I choose not to pay for the kindle unlimited.

  12. I'm an editor. I want my own authors/friends to be getting treated well and paid fairly, and by extension I want the same for other authors. So I don't do KU, period. I'm stuck buying a lot of books through Amazon right now simply because my main source was ARe (yes, for the freebie credit, because I am broke af and genuinely needed that additional boost). But I buy, and then I download and Calibre the files because Kindle sucks, and Amazon sucks, and I don't trust Amazon not to randomly jack my library files.

    Whenever I can, I'm buying through Smashwords or publisher sites, but it's hard keeping track of owned books and author updates (I read A LOT; tracking the website or newsletter of every author I repeatedly buy from would be a full-time job). The central-location aspect of ARe is missed. As is the freebie credit, without which my purchasing has decreased or been redistributed to cheaper books to get the most word count for the money. Which sucks, but my options are limited right now.