If an author wants to release a free ebook, how many readers (10%, 75%, ...) is he/she likely to lose by choosing to release only on Amazon and not as a more accessible pdf, html, etc. format and putting in on his/her own website? Let's assume the author will do one or the other but not both.

I guess it is also possible that there will be a net increase of readership due to the additional exposure (although with the number of books on Amazon I'm not sure how much exposure there would actually be).

In the end, I am interested to see any research that has been done in this area.

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    I can't speak for everyone, but for me personally I have never downloaded a book from amazon and I never will. I just don't trust them.
    – aman207
    Dec 23, 2013 at 5:18
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    Could you explain why somebody would want to distribute exclusively via Amazon? I guess the loss of readers will be huge, because you can only reach Kindle users. A lot of people I know do prefer epub readers over Kindles, because they can read libraries with those. I do however not have any data about this.
    – Tim
    Dec 23, 2013 at 9:15
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    This looks like a bad worded question about what percentage of the market share Amazon has on the ebook market. Dec 23, 2013 at 11:22
  • @aman207 I know this is not a discussion board, and I'll remove this after but could you be more specific as to what you do not trust about Amazon? I live in a developing country and being able to get 'popular' books without physical delivery has made Amazon great for me (book stores are not an option where I am).
    – John
    Dec 23, 2013 at 12:39
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    @John I can't speak for aman207, but I don't trust Amazon because of their past misbehavior with regards to ebooks. Long before the Kindle, they had an online ebook service that was discontinued and everyone who paid money for books lost their money. And then there was the incident with 1984. Let's also not forget their predatory pricing and marketing strategies. Dec 30, 2013 at 1:36

1 Answer 1


The answer is closely tied to the author's purpose. Amazon can provide significant exposure. From the question's comments, the purpose may be to track the number of readers.

If the real purpose is simply to track the number of readers, Google Analytics or other tracking systems can give you that information with free software. There are other options (meaning other public websites) available which track downloads for you.

On the other hand, tracking your own downloads on a relatively unknown web site as compared to tracking a LOT of downloads on amazon... if you want more exposure, go to the established venues such as amazon.

Wherever you place the book, do work within that site's paradigm or ecosystem. There are ways to get better exposure on Amazon, for example, with lots of books and online tutorials available. If you're going through another venue, find out how to best work within that venue.

Consider multiple venues, multiple e-book file formats, and so on. This becomes an exercise in online marketing or search engine optimization. If tracking is the important consideration, research the various download-tracking options. Once you understand the tracking options available, that may help direct your decision as to how to go about distributing the book or books.

If you have a specific book, niche, or genre in mind, do some searches for free e-books in that genre. That may help you understand the expectations of the book's potential audience. If they're already out there looking for similar books, that fact may guide you in where and how to make it available.

Another way to look at your question is, "How many readers do I gain by putting it on Amazon?" If the book is free, the author is surely under no obligation to publish it EXCLUSIVELY on Amazon. Use amazon in addition to the other options.

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