Kindle: A Year in Review
Kindle was the first of its kind in so many ways when it was introduced in 2007: it was the first time you could think of a book and be reading it in 60 seconds; the first time you could connect to a cellular network to download something and not get billed for the data; the first time you could access an entire store of books while on the go; and the first time you could take your full library with you anywhere you went.
Over the years, while the design and features of the device have evolved, what hasn’t changed is Amazon’s singular goal of making reading more available and enjoyable to people around the world. Today, we offer readers millions of e-books on Amazon.co.uk, and we continue to invest in developing new features and benefits that readers love. We want it to be easy for customers to find their next favourite book and get more out of their reading experience as well as make it easy for authors to connect with readers. Worldwide, we see customers buying more e-books from a widening variety of authors and publishers. Kindle book sales grew again in 2019, in thanks to independent publishing, Kindle Unlimited subscriptions and Amazon Publishing.
The past 12 months saw some exciting advances for Kindle and as we near the end of the year, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of our favourite highlights from the last year:
Helping readers discover new books easily.
This year the range of titles available in Kindle Unlimited expanded, with more than a million titles now in the service, including even more of Britain’s best-loved authors and books. Along with all seven books from the original Harry Potter series, books by David Walliams, Agatha Christie, Bernard Cornwell, and many more now feature. We also launched full magazine subscriptions within Kindle Unlimited including BBC Good Food, BBC Top Gear, National Geographic, Marie Claire, Time, and more.
July saw the launch of Amazon Charts in the UK, a weekly bestseller list that shares the most read and most sold books across all formats each week. The Top 20 Most Read list is the first ever bestseller list to measure which Kindle and Audible titles Amazon.co.uk customers are reading and listening to. Customers visiting the Amazon Charts page can find inspiration to try a new book across any format.
In December, Amazon Charts released This Year in Books for the first time. Women writers took all the top slots, with J.K. Rowling and Michelle Obama taking the Most Read crowns for Fiction and Non-Fiction respectively, thanks to their titles Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the memoir Becoming. Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone topped the Most Sold Non-Fiction chart with their cookbook, Pinch of Nom: 100 Slimming Home-style Recipes, and Heather Morris had the Most Sold Fiction book, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. The charts also held good news for author Nicola May, who had the best-selling independently-published title of the year with her book, The Cornershop in Cockleberry Bay.
Empowering more authors to connect with readers.
Through programmes like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), we’re helping open up a whole world of possibilities not only to storytellers but also to a new world of readers. KDP is a self-publishing service that helps authors publish and distribute their books to millions of readers around the world, choosing where they want to sell, setting their own list prices and earning up to 70 per cent of every sale in royalties.
Today, hundreds of thousands of authors are using KDP to sell their books around the world, and authors who make their books available through Kindle Unlimited earned $298.9 million in the last twelve months from the KDP Select Global Fund alone. L.J. Ross, who publishes her books through KDP, topped the Kindle eBooks best seller list a record seven times in 2019. Thousands of independent authors who self-publish their books with KDP earned more than $50,000 from the sale of their books on Amazon, with more than a thousand passing $100,000 in royalties.
Three years ago, we launched the Kindle Storyteller Awards here in the UK as a way to encourage budding authors. In October, Mariella Frostrup presented Ian W Sainsbury with the Kindle Storyteller Award and the £20,000 prize for his psychological thriller, The Picture on the Fridge. Mariella described the book as “immediately gripping with great tension... a very unsettling read.” For Ian, a former musician, it was a ringing endorsement for his new writing career. The book hit the number two spot in the best-selling Kindle eBook charts – not bad for his first attempt at writing in the thriller genre.
Continuing to innovate our Kindle hardware business to help readers get lost in the author’s world.
Kindle device sales in the UK continue to show year-over-year growth, and we had our best Black Friday ever for Kindle devices. Our long term goal is to create a device that allows you to lose yourself in the author’s story. And since the first Kindle launch, we've used our customers' feedback and technological innovations to get us closer to that goal of paper reading, including adding features that go beyond paper. In the last 14 months we’ve had our largest Kindle portfolio refresh ever, including a complete update to our existing Kindle e-reader line up and the addition of a brand new offering just for kids. Here are a few of the new features:
- In late 2018, we refreshed our most popular and best-selling e-reader, Kindle Paperwhite, by making it waterproof, so now readers can enjoy their favourite books wherever they may be, including in the bath, by the pool or at the beach.
- Earlier this year, we took our entry-level Kindle and made it better by adding for the first time an adjustable front-light for comfortable reading in even more places, all while keeping the price the same at just £69.99.
- With the all-new Kindle Oasis introduced this summer, we added for the first time an adjustable warm light. Now, you can customise the colour tone from white to amber to easily transition from daytime to a comfortable nighttime reading experience. You can even schedule the screen warmth to adjust automatically with sunrise and sunset.
- This autumn, we introduced Kindle Kids Edition, the first dedicated reading experience built just for kids, which includes the latest Kindle, access to over a thousand curated e-books with Amazon Fire for Kids Unlimited, a kid-friendly case, and a two-year worry-free guarantee.
We’re excited to see what 2020 has in store for Kindle!