In 2023, Amazon KDP maintained its position as a pivotal player in the self-publishing world, evolving with new updates, algorithms, and trends.
As we review the year, we’ll explore the platform’s changes, the top, most profitable niches, and key statistics that shaped Amazon KDP’s landscape over the past twelve months.
Let’s dive right into it.
A sneak peek into the numbers
While the year is still in its course, discovering fresh and up-to-date statistics about Amazon KDP’s 2023 performance is a challenge.
However, some important numbers are available and worth sharing.
For example, Amazon has retained its leading position in the ebook space with a nearly 70% market share in 2023.
Tens of thousands of sellers are actively uploading books, with new titles being available on the daily. Since 2018, the number of available KDP books has risen by nearly 300%.
To achieve this growth, Amazon KDP has invested substantial efforts in marketing, author satisfaction, and buyer retention.
Amazon KDP changes and updates
The core updates and changes on Amazon KDP in 2023 aim to further strengthen the platform’s performance and grow its scale.
Here are a few interesting picks that brought something new to the marketplace this year.
Amazon KDP algorithm changes
One of the most essential things to understand about Amazon KDP is its algorithm. It will dictate your performance as a seller and shape your future on the platform.
In previous years, Amazon’s ranking system was strongly focused on SEO. The authors’ main priority was keyword stuffing to enhance rankings and increase visibility.
Due to the manipulative practices resulting from this strategy, the algorithm was updated to support performance-based ranking.
2023 saw an evolution that prioritized engagement, retention, click-through rate and sales performance as opposed to keywords and metadata alone.
Although it’s still important for sellers to optimize listings for appropriate keywords, efforts should also be directed towards performance metrics and relevance.
Author restrictions in attempts to prevent AI abuse
During 2023, AI technology like ChatGPT became dramatically more powerful, providing instant access to templates, titles, and even full book content.
Naturally, these handy tools have become useful for Amazon KDP sellers looking to quickly produce high volumes of low- and no-content book titles.
In response to this rising trend, Amazon KDP restricted authors from uploading more than three self-publishing books per day on the platform. This limitation was made official in September and is a reaction to suspicions of AI-generated materials dominating the marketplace.
Although the platform doesn’t entirely prohibit sales of AI-generated low- and no-content books, authors are obliged to declare if the content is created by artificial intelligence.
Expectations are that Amazon will continue monitoring closely the quality of the authors’ products. If you’re considering implementing AI technology into your sales strategy for 2024, this is worth keeping in mind.
Important category changes
In June 2023, Amazon announced a big change to category selection.
From the start, Amazon KDP permitted authors to choose two general categories to position their books in.
However, the platform has a much more detailed list of KDP book categories. For years, sellers could email Amazon, requesting that their product be listed in up to ten categories, as opposed to two.
This consequently led to many book creators positioning their products in categories that are easiest to rank for.
Although this is a rewarding technique for the seller, it has a detrimental influence on item relevance for the shopper.
The new changes require authors to select only three KDP book categories per product. Amazon has further stated that:
“We reserve the right to change the categories of a book at any time to ensure a positive customer experience. The categories you add and the categories shown online may not always match. Your book may be added to additional or different categories to improve the customer experience.”
From one perspective, category selection is now a lot easier. However, authors will have to carefully choose where to place their books in order to attract the right audience.
Another key change that took place in June 2023 was Amazon’s POD service price increase.
The platform’s printing costs were updated to meet the substantial price increase of materials and labor as a result of inflation.
This update may not heavily impact all sellers. However, it’s likely to have a stronger effect on those offering large trim-size books, especially in color.
To help sellers understand their performance better, Amazon has also made changes to the authors’ Book stats page.
From April 2023, sellers can view the royalties earned for each book format under the number of units sold.
This is a helpful piece of information for those interested in analyzing the correlation between units sold and royalties.
Dominating niches in 2023
Just like any other year, 2023 was a mixture of new and classic niches taking the lead on Amazon KDP.
Some of the star themes and categories that dominated the scenes include:
- Engaging educational workbooks – A classic niche that maintained its popularity in 2023, interactive learning books were a hit in the low-content book domain. These products predominantly target children and feature handwriting practice, number tracing, and problem-solving.
- Specialized planners and organizers – These items are tailored to certain hobbies of special events, like gardening and fitness trackers or wedding organizers. A wide array of design trends emerged, all based on the particular theme of the product.
- Mindfulness and mental wellness journals – Globally, 2023 was a year of growing awareness towards mindfulness and mental health. As a result, journals addressing this topic were very successful on Amazon KDP. Some of the most popular products include gratitude journals and mindfulness exercise books.
- Niche coloring books for children and adults – Coloring books are another evergreen low-content book category that had another year of strong performance. In 2023, these items were mostly purchased for children, where themes included nature, art, and animals.
- “Share your story” journals – A new niche that emerged in 2023, “Share your story” journals created another opportunity for sellers to increase profits. Mostly targeted at moms, dads, and grandparents, “Share your story” journals are designed to record life stories, memories, and experiences that are often passed down to the next generation.
The 2023 overview shows that the year can be characterized by growth and evolution for Amazon KDP.
The platform not only adapted to the changing landscape of digital publishing but also set new barriers ensuring the quality of the platform is preserved.
We’re excited to see all that 2024 has in store for sellers and shoppers on Amazon KDP.