One in four people end up buying an ebook after borrowing one for free

Amazon had a press release today that provided some pretty revealing statistics on their Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  The announcement contained highlights for the past month just like previous press releases on the lending program, but it also provided some extremely important information for libraries and book publishers.

The announcement contained specific details on sales data for ebooks that were borrowed through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  Past press releases have always said that authors that participated in the program made more money and sold more ebooks, but now we have data on how many more ebook sales they had as a result of loaning their ebook out for free.

Amazon found that 24% of people that borrowed “The Hunger Games” ebook by Suzanne Collins for free ended up buying both of the other ebooks in the trilogy “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay”.  Customers did this even though all three books are available for free in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

The Hunger Games series is a record-breaking trilogy that been in the top positions of Amazon’s Best Sellers list for a very long time.  This shows that even super popular ebooks can sell more copies by participating in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.  Of course, only one ebook can be borrowed per month through the program, so that probably is a large part of the reason why people that borrowed the first ebook ended up buying the other two.  It would be interesting to see how many people would still pay for the other two books if Amazon allowed three ebooks to be borrowed per month.

Lesser known authors saw sales spike after loaning out their ebooks for free as well.  25% of customers that borrowed an ebook written by L.J. Sellers ended up buying one of her other ebooks.  51% of customers that borrowed one of Debora Geary’s ebooks through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library decided to buy one of her ebooks.

The press release showcases several other independent authors that saw a gigantic increase in the sales of their ebooks as a result of participating in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Amazon has proved that giving away ebooks for free can drastically increase the number of ebooks you sell.  Now we just need book publishers to wake up and start loaning out their ebooks at public libraries.