In 2019, authors earned more than $300 million from the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select Global Fund, totaling more than $1.1 billion since the launch of Kindle Unlimited, Amazon reported among a blizzard of other information the company delivered in connection with the release of its 2019 financial results.(Author earnings from Kindle Unlimited do not include their a la carte sales). Since Kindle Unlimited launched, Amazon said, KDP authors have earned more than $1.1 billion through the program, and more than 1,000 had royalties of $100,000 through KDP in 2019.
No other bookselling or publishing figures were released by the company, which reported total revenue of $280.5 billion last year, up 20% over 2018. Net income rose 15%, to $11.6 billion.
As part of its financial release, CEO Jeff Bezos was quoted as saying Amazon now has more than 150 million paid Prime members worldwide. In another area that analysts watch closely—the business conducted by third-party sellers—Amazon said the group “sold more than a billion items during the holiday season.”
In its release, Amazon did not break out full-year results by operating segment, preferring to deliver the report by quarters. In the fourth quarter, sales of third-party sellers jumped 30% over the fourth quarter of 2018. Sales through its online stores in the fourth quarter increased 15%, but sales through physical stores fell 1%. The physical store segment is largely comprised of Whole Foods, but includes Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star stores.
Subscription services revenue rose 32% in the final quarter over 2018, and revenue generated by Amazon Web Services (AWS) jumped 34% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period a year ago. AWS, Amazon’s cloud service business, had revenue of $35 billion in 2019, up 37% over 2018, and operating income increased to $9.2 billion, from $7.3 billion, making AWS Amazon’s most profitable segment by far. In contrast, Amazon’s North American business had an operating income of $7 billion on revenue of $170.7 billion.
For 2020, Amazon projected that sales will grow between 16% and 22% over the first quarter of 2019, but said operating income will be between $3 billion to $4.2 billion, down from $4.4 billion in the first period of 2019.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify where the $300 million in earnings generated by KDP authors came from; all of it was from participation in Kindle Unlimited and doesn’t reflect other earnings.