The following is a support ticket I sent to Amazon this morning. As I say therein, I expect nothing to come of it, but it has been bugging me and I couldn’t let it go…
Dear Amazon KDP Big Bosses
This is a general question seeking information on an apparent Amazon policy and to express my frustration with the same. I would like more information on the why of it and whether or not the situation is likely to change. I have included a brief statement of why the current Amazon policy is in my opinion seriously flawed. I have essentially no expectation of this email accomplishing anything, but I feel this issue is sufficiently important that I’m going to give it a shot. Here goes…
Presently I have no idea how many KDP books in our library have been borrowed or downloaded on any given day through Kindle Unlimited (“KU”) or the Lending Program (“LP”). Yes, I can do very rough math on page reads and estimate a broad count for a long period of time, but this is meaningless, unhelpful, and probably not even close to the correct number. More importantly, this sort of rough estimate has no utility on a single day basis because the days a book is read (or the reading is recorded) are not at all a direct correlation to the day the book was downloaded; all we can say is that the download occurred on some day on or preceding the page reads recorded. So in the end, I have zero way of telling how many actual copies were downloaded (KU) or borrowed (LP) on any given day. You, Amazon, have this information, but choose not to release it since the implementation of KENP.
Why, you ask, does it matter? You get paid for page reads, not downloads, so who cares?
It’s true that the revenue is page read driven; but, marketing – sales – the flogging of books, THESE things are conversion driven! I advertise with Pay-Per-Click advertising in Adwords, Facebook, and on Amazon’s very own platform. I pay for impressions, clicks, visits, and with a little luck and fairy dust, sales. But sales means so much more than a person purchasing a digital copy of one of our titles the “old fashioned” way. Now sales means “a” download, “a” borrow, and “a” purchase. (Leaving aside more difficult concepts like increasing readership, brand awareness, and goodwill. For now, let us all agree that a sale is a borrow, download, and/or purchase.)
Presently all my PPC campaigns, including Amazon’s very own platform, can only tell me if traffic from a given place for a given keyword/campaign resulted in a purchase. That’s 33% of the potential positive conversion events. The other two possibilities, downloads and borrows, are completely left to tea-leaves reading. It is impossible to judge the effectiveness of a campaign with any degree of certainty if I don’t know that impressions lead to clicks and those clicks did or did not lead to a borrow or a download. I don’t care if they take a month to read the book, I care if my advertising efforts resulted in a conversion. No conversions, or too low conversions: adjust the ad, or start a new ad, or give up that source of ads. [No conversion info: guess.]
Amazon’s policy of not disclosing borrows and downloads means Amazon is withholding the information necessary to properly track advertising conversions at a basic level. The fact that they have this information is trite; they used to provide it before the implementation of KENP. As it stands, I’m flying blind on advertising, even with Amazon, because I have no idea if my ads are having the desired impact. Because a significant portion of income for any given period is KENP, my ad tracking is missing an extremely important component. I’m not tracking ads properly because Amazon isn’t providing basic conversion information it has.
I surmise that the reason is you think KDP users will be angry because a lot of people are downloading books and then don’t read them, or don’t read them for a very long time. So you’re in the boardroom thinking, “Hey, if we tell people they have 15 downloads and only pay them $1.50 for 300 page reads, they’re going to be really angry at us. Let’s NOT tell them 15 people have their book but only one is reading it so far; that will make them unhappy at themselves, not us.” And so a plan was born! Well, it’s a crappy plan.
Please reconsider providing this basic information as soon as possible. That is, tell me – tell all of us in KDP – how many books have been downloaded or borrowed on any given day. Tell us so we can know if our ads, covers, blurbs are working. Tell us so we know users are engaged, or not, in the presentation. Tell us so we can spend more money on ads that work and less on ads that don’t. Tell us so we can get a feel for what groups like the books and what groups don’t. The more popular KU gets the more important this information will become. It’s a basic question of knowing what works on any given day. How much is being made overall is fine for some things, but not for selling books.
Thank you for your consideration and time.
Digital Fiction Publishing Corp.