Ok, so this is sort of bringing the whole discussion full circle. That's sort of a disadvantage -- in terms of market research -- to be outside of the US and not be able to see which books are being offered in KU and how they are listed on search result pages.
If you look at the dearauthor website, there are a ton of romance readers chiming about their thoughts on KU. However, this one comment stood out among the rest:
I checked out the All-Stars in the Romance section and the only author I’d heard of was Bella Andre. It seems to me that KU is highlighting something that was already happening – a big divide opening up between two halves of the market. There are people buying a ton of mostly self-published books that are exclusive to Amazon and often but not always low-priced books. Someone on KBoards has been collecting sales figures for the all star list – to make it into the top 25, you have to have around 30,000 sales/borrows in a month (per author, not per title). So these books are selling well. But they aren’t books that I see people talking about in traditional romance venues. They aren’t trad-published, but they also aren’t the self-published books which make waves in the wider romance community. They aren’t being entered for RITAs, they aren’t reviewed on the big blogs and so on. It feels like a different, parallel market.
That "different, parallel market" is the sheer power of having your book "browsed" by the thousands and thousands of fresh readers coming to Amazon on a daily basis and discovering your book via keywords as well as Amazon organically recommending your books to readers based on their previous purchases as well as what they clicked on and showed previous interest in...
Mark Dawson, a very smart and successful indie author, posted a survey on his Facebook page, asking his fans about how they find their books. Read the thread. The answers are extremely enlightening and pertinent to this conversation:
The two most popular answers are Bookbub (which makes sense because Mark advertises with Bookbub) and Amazon's "recommended for you".
So if you're not getting the benefit of this "different, parallel" browsing market where readers are browsing Amazon and buying YOUR book because they find in on their search results pages as well as Amazon "recommending to readers" YOUR book, then you're going to have to go generate sales through marketing, advertising, and promotions.
And we think this is where the KU borrows vs. the sales divide comes into play.
If you don't have any borrows (or even very many sales) coming from the "different, parallel market" of browsing Amazon readers, then it likely makes a lot of sense NOT to be exclusively to Amazon and to get out of KU.
Every paid advertising mailing list that we've tried thus far increased sales. It did NOT affect borrows in a very significant way.