Actual Numbers – Kindle for iPhone, eBook App Stats

While there is a lot of buzz around eBook Apps on the iPhone and even claims that the iPhone is more significant for reading than eReaders there are few attempts to actually enumerate exactly what the number of active users is, what types of Apps are popular, and how many daily downloads there are.

Well, here are a set of reasonable estimates and hard numbers on reading on the iPhone.  

3 Million Active Users of eBooks Apps

The big data points here are from Flurry, a mobile application analytics company, that estimates 3 million iPhone owners are actively using Book Apps. 

Number of Active eBook Users
Number of Active eBook Users

 They also point out –

  1. eBook apps are the second largest category of Apps in the App Store (they quote Apptism) –

    However, most surprisingly, we have observed that just behind the largest category, games, eBooks has emerged as a strong second (with 14% share).

  2.  300% growth in active users of eBook apps from April to July. 

Note that Kindle for iPhone was released on March 4th, 2009 and there were just .5 million active readers then.

Update: Please do not interpret this post as meaning iPhone is more significant for reading than eReaders. Firstly, at this point we have no idea of how many books these iPhone ‘active’ users are actually buying. Secondly, the Kindle itself is ‘probably’ over a million unit sold and Sony was definitely at 400K units sold in January 2009.

10,000 eBook Apps for iPhone – 12% of Total Apps

The actual number of book apps is –

For the Last Year 

  1. Mobclix –  10,067 eBook Apps. 12% of All Apps. 691 of which are paid and 9,376 are free (93.1%). In comparison Games Apps are 19.7% and Entertainment applications are 15%.
  2. Apptism – 10,124 eBook apps. eBooks as the second biggest category with 14% of total apps.

For the  Last Month

  1. Mobclix- 158 eBook apps added. 11% of apps. 7 paid, 151 free (95.6%). 

Most Popular eBook Apps 

Via Apptism we have these top eBook apps –

Top Free: 

  1. Kindle for iPhone (4th overall in App Store App rankings). As a measure of how significant that is, Amazon Mobile is 97th.
  2. Stanza (24th overall).
  3. B&N eReader (27th).
  4. B&N Bookstore (46th).
  5. eReader (69th). This is around where the top paid eBooks app i.e. Classics would fall.
  6. AudioBooks (75th).
  7. Shakespeare (95th).
  8. Tips and Tricks (Lite version) – The paid version is a bestseller too.
  9. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
  10. Wattpad.
  11. Love Poems.
  12. Grimms Fairy Tales.
  13. Bible Stories.
  14. The Scriptures.
  15. KJV Bible Audiobook.
  16. Alice in Wonderland.
  17. Archie: Freshman Year #1.
  18. Book Bazaar (a book search and price comparison engine).
  19. Shortcovers by Indigo Books and Music.
  20. Coleman Campfire Tales.
  21. Alice in Wonderland.
  22. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen.
  23. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer.

Top Paid eBook Apps

  1. Classics – $0.99 (4th overall in iPhone Paid App Rankings).
  2. Tips and Tricks – iPhone Secrets. $0.99 (34th).
  3. Holy Bible KJV – $0.99 (68th).
  4. The Little Red Hen – animated storybook. $0.99 (74th).
  5. Audiobook player – 2,300 Free Books. $0.99 (75th).
  6. 150 Plus Great Books – $1.99 (95th).
  7. Hells Kitchen – $4.99 (149th).
  8. NIV Bible – $7.99.
  9. A Twilight Trivia Book – $0.99.
  10. 23,469 Classics – $1.99.
  11. The Love Dare – $0.99.
  12. Picture of Dorian Gray – $0.99.
  13. Twilight – $9.99
  14. Self Help Classics – $1.99.
  15. GI Joe: Prequel – $0.99.
  16. DreamBook – $0.99.
  17. Easy Recipes – Food and Drink. $0.99.
  18. LDS Scriptures App – $14.99.
  19. New Moon (Twilight) – $9.99.

There seem to be four main types of eBook Apps –

  1. eBook Readers from the big shots i.e. Kindle, B&N, etc.
  2. Paid One off Book Apps.  
  3. One off public domain books.
  4. Paid and Free public domain book readers.

Sales Rank to actual Sales Numbers – Kindle for iPhone has over a million monthly users

Flurry again have the best data (May 2009) –

  1. Average downloads per day for Top Free Apps – 181K a day for #1, 98K a day for #2, 63K a day for #3, 60K a day for #4, 53K a day for #5, 52K a day for #6, and 24K a day for #10.
  2. This would indicate Kindle for iPhone is getting around 60K downloads a day these days (perhaps more).

In terms of active users the most useful data point is from Admob who list statistics for their tracked apps (mostly free apps) –

  1. The top 5% of apps see over 100K active users per month. Given that Kindle is #4 out of 70,000 apps i.e. top .005% it would not be a stretch to say that over a million users a month use Kindle for iPhone. 
  2. The next 14% of apps see 10K to 100K active users per month.  
  3. The middle 27% of apps see 1K to 10K active users per month.

Also interesting is that Joel Comm reveals that when he hit #1 overall in December 2008, his app sold 13,274 units. It had sold 9,760 units on the day it was #2.

That would mean that in about 5.5 months, the daily sales of the #1 iPhone App increased from around 13,000 a day to around 180,000 a day – about 14 times.

Kindle for iPhone Numbers, Conclusions

Just putting these together again –

  1. Kindle for iPhone probably has over a million active users.
  2. It probably gets 60 thousand downloads a day. 
  3. Its rank of #4 absolutely dwarfs the sales rank of Amazon Mobile at #97.
  4. Combine Kindle and Stanza and it would not be a surprise if Amazon has as many active users as all other eBook apps combined.
  5. In short, Kindle and Stanza together give Amazon an almost unassailable lead.
  6. Except for Kindle for iPhone, Stanza, and B&N eReader amongst Free Apps, and Classics amongst Paid Apps, no other eBook Apps make the overall Top 25.
  7. Only 6 of the top 100 paid apps, and 7 of the top 100 free apps are eBook Apps.

Looking at these figures, its no wonder Amazon bought Stanza. iPhone might be more of a reading platform than we realize.

The big missing piece is how many book sales there actually are.

Wonder what Steve Jobs thinks about the fact that 12% of iPhone apps are reading apps and that the #1 and #2 spots are owned by Kindle and Stanza.

Oprah, Kindle 3 Release in November – Prediction

Here’s why a Kindle 3 release and another Oprah Kindle endorsement are pretty likely this year –

  1. It’ll be 9 months since the Kindle 2.
  2. The Kindle 2 was supposedly delayed from an original October/November 2008 scheduled release date.
  3. Oprah Kindle worked once.  And by worked we mean Kindle sales sky-rocketed and the Kindle was sold out for most of the holiday season.
  4. Supposed great rapport between Jeff Bezos and Oprah.  
  5. An early release of Kindle 3 would be a huge advantage for Amazon over current and upcoming competitors.
  6. Amazon knows very well that this holiday season might determine who wins the long term battle for the future of publishing.
  7. Amazon also knows that as Publishers get more options they will try to create a level playing field for eReaders and wrest back control of publishing. The Kindle’s window of opportunity is rapidly closing and it needs to get as much market share as it can in the next 1 to 2 years.  

Thoughts – Oprah Kindle 3 endorsement likelihood

There is a lot more Kindle and ereader awareness this year. That’s on the positive side. The negative changes are –

  1. Users getting overwhelmed by sheer number of product offerings. 
  2. The promise of the Apple eReader. 
  3. Lots of negative attacks by the main stream bloggers and media.
  4. Sony pushing open formats and free google books and free library ebooks.

Basically, users are overwhelmed by the options and confused by the attacks on the Kindle. There are three ways to counter this –

  1. Letting users use the Kindle in person. Hence, the recent Amazon note on trying out Kindles for 30 days. 
  2. Endorsements of friends and family who own a Kindle. 
  3. Endorsements of trusted people.

One or more of these factors is enough to overwhelm 10 anti-Kindle articles complaining about DRM and ePub and other things end users don’t really care about.

However, one or more of these factors is needed. The most scalable option for the Kindle would be to get endorsements from people who are trusted, and whose endorsement would hold a lot of weight –

  1. Perhaps send out free kindles to President Obama’s family.  Michelle Obama or one of the Obama girls using a Kindle would instantly double sales.
  2. Perhaps get an endorsement from a pastor like Joel Osteen. 
  3. Gurus with followings like Anthony Robbins. People pay $10,000 for his ‘shallow hal’ conferences – surely $299 for a Kindle is doable.
  4. Get big name authors and journalists on-board.
  5. Another natural candidate is Tyra Banks who is also earning a following with her talk show.
  6. Perhaps Bill and Hillary Clinton.

While these are all good options and options that should be exercised, the trump card is still Oprah.

Except perhaps for President Obama, no one has the pull of Oprah – Why change a winning strategy?

An Oprah Kindle 3 endorsement is very likely – my money’s on November 2009, despite all of Amazon’s protests that there is no Kindle 3 this year.

Amazon makes Legacy free on Kindle

September 1st, 12:30 am update – Legacy is now at #2. It shows an increase of 50,150% from 1,005 to 2nd.

Amazon is turning on its free marketing valve for its first Amazon Encore production, Legacy by Cayla Kluver. Its free till September 4th, 2009.

Here’s a look at the impact –

14,609% Jump. A One of a kind Publicity Vehicle
14,609% Jump. A One of a kind Publicity Vehicle

That’s a jump from a kindle sales rank of 1,618 to a kindle sales rank of 11. It means that Legacy now gets first page placement on the BestSellers list and gets even more sales.

Amazon’s Magic Marketing Lever

Its interesting to see that Amazon now has possibly the most powerful, and almost certainly the cheapest, publicity and marketing tool in the book business i.e.

the combination of its BestSellers List and the ability to put certain books at $0 (while restricting everyone else at $1 or higher).

My suggestion had been to make it half price (updated to a free recommendation when I realized it’s a series). Free is obviously better to get attention and exposure for the author. A lot of those people (10% to 20%) might end up buying the physical book.

An even larger number (25%, possibly more) will end up buying the following books in the series (It’s a 3 book series, as far as my understanding goes).

Amazon waited until around the time of the physical book release to come out with this offer. Trying to figure out all the reasons for that. Or was it that sales of the Kindle Edition weren’t as good as Amazon was hoping for?

Does this make Amazon Encore the best Publisher for a new Author?

Let’s think about it –

  1. You probably get 35%, at the minimum 20-25%.  
  2. You’re guaranteed to get a lot of publicity due to being an Encore Edition (at least for the first dozen or so books).
  3. You’ll have lots of bloggers with nothing better to do writing about you 😉 .
  4. You have the benefit of getting a $0 promotion in the Kindle Store.
  5. You’ll get a lot of readers, and get featured in the Kindle Store.

The biggest advantage is that Amazon’s whole Encore imprint will depend on you for at least the first 10-20 books. Amazon’s success being tied to your success means you get all of its strength behind you.