Home » Amazon, Ebook Borrowing/Lending » Kindle Unlimited Pages Read

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read

15 June 2015

From Kindle Direct Publishing:

Beginning July 1, 2015, we’ll switch from paying Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) royalties based on qualified borrows, to paying based on the number of pages read. We’re making this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors who asked us to better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read. Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it.

Royalty payments under the new program

As with our current approach, we’ll continue to set a KDP Select Global Fund each month. Under the new payment method, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read instead of their share of total qualified borrows.

Here are some examples of how it would work if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:

  • The author of a 100 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read halfway through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

We will similarly change the way we pay KDP Select All-Star bonuses which will be awarded to authors and titles based on total KU and KOLL pages read.

. . . .

To determine a book’s page count in a way that works across genres and devices, we’ve developed the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC). We calculate KENPC based on standard settings (e.g. font, line height, line spacing, etc.), and we’ll use KENPC to measure the number of pages customers read in your book, starting with the Start Reading Location (SRL) to the end of your book. Amazon typically sets SRL at chapter 1 so readers can start reading the core content of your book as soon as they open it.

This standardized approach allows us to identify pages in a way that works across genres and devices.

When we make this change on July 1, 2015, you’ll be able to see your book’s KENPC listed on the “Promote and Advertise” page in your Bookshelf, and we’ll report on total pages read on your Sales Dashboard report. Because it’s based on default settings, KENPC may vary from page counts listed on your Amazon detail page, which are derived from other sources.

Link to the rest at Kindle Direct Publishing and thanks to Elizabeth for the tip.

Amazon, Ebook Borrowing/Lending

267 Comments to “Kindle Unlimited Pages Read”

  1. Authors rapidly calculating best way to maximize profit under new system… (before they can conclude their figuring, Amazon changes again)…

    • Patrice,
      No profit-maximizing calculations necessary. Amazon already did the math for us.

      In their example, they’ve come up with a rate of 10 cents per page-read ($10M payout on 100M pages read) as a hypothetical payout. Amazon has billions and billions of data points in respect to pages read in KU and outside of KU–so I am (10% to 100%) certain that the 10 cents per page-read factor is bang on the money.

      Prior KU Model: Author publishes 400-page book, reader reads between 10% and 100% of said book. Author receives $1.30 to $1.50 depending on the recent month in question.

      New KU Model: Author publishes 400-page book, reader reads 100% of said book, author receives $40. (Even if the reader only reads 4% of the book–or about 16 pages, the author still pockets more than the old-KU payout.)

      I know that a payout range of from $4 per sucky 400-page book (10% read) to $40 per awesome 400-page book (100% read) sounds amazing, but please consider that, had The Goldfinch been published as an indie title within The New KU system, the author-publisher would have only netted $317.12 to date.

      I’m just crossing my fingers that whoever wrote that post for Amazon is also KU’s mathematician.

      On a serious note, did they say whether authors will see how many new borrows they had? As I read it, authors will possibly only see “The Great Spy Detective Thriller: A Novel” and “4,537 KU pages read” and “$453.70 KU payout”.

      • The Goldfinch is not a good candidate for KU?
        Imagine that!

      • Here’s what I wonder about:

        “Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it.”

        First time. The time frame is not defined. If a reader reads twenty pages, then goes away for a month, then finishes it, I bet Amazon will count only the ten pages. How long can a reader leave a book and still have it counted as ‘first read’? A week, two? However many days are left til the end of the month? Or until the reader deletes the book?
        Given the number of half-finished books I have laying about my place right now, I hope it is the very last one…

  2. Next phases:

    1) Rules-lawyer authors start padding the Hell out of their books. Front-matter, back-matter, etc. The ones with poor reading comprehension also start trying to bulk up their e-books like a tenth-grader looking at a mandatory page count for their English paper that’s due tomorrow morning.

    2) Amazon starts adjusting per-page compensation by a factor that takes an author’s average number of pages per book and average ratio of pages per book read by the average reader into account.

    • However, the new system is based on pages read and starts with the beginning of chapter 1 where most Kindle ebooks open automatically, so any additions to the front matter, back matter won’t count unless a reader actually reads them. Also if an author pads their book and that causes someone to stop reading after 10 pages, they will be shooting themselves in the foot….not to mention the potential for bad reviews.

    • Since they measure the page count with their “Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count”, I’ll bet it already deals with a lot of the issues you are thinking of. I’m sure some people will try to game it, and I’m sure Amazon will deal with those who do.

  3. Well, that will put an end to all of the “gaming the system” griping.

    • This also appears to make it possible for those who write books in which it’s normal to read only a small portion of the text at once (reference books, cookbooks, maybe poetry anthologies) to get paid something, while with the old system those people might not get paid for a long time (or ever, if the reader never got to 10%).

      I’m sure this system can be gamed, too, but on the face of it it seems more resistant to gaming than the previous one.

      • good point

      • To amplify on this a bit, suppose you’ve compiled the 3,000 page Universal Widget Collector’s Reference Manual. It’s not a mass-market work, and is never going to be. Under the old system, you’d only get paid in the unlikely event that the reader actually read 10% of the thing. Under the new system you get paid even if the reader just looks up the five widgets that he owns.

        It’s also better than traditional publishing, under which a book like that would’ve been priced at $150 or more (because the sales volume is going to be pretty low) and would have sold only to libraries and extremely dedicated collectors.

      • RealityObserver

        I’d include people that work mostly (or entirely) in short-form fiction.

        I might pick up a 300 page collection for one story that I particularly like (I have done so in the past with dead tree books, and know other who do).

        I read a fifteen page story – the author gets nada (old system). Now they get something.

        (I hope, though, that they collect where I actually do start reading – otherwise, an otherwise mediocre author can game things by placing their most popular – or least unpopular – story at the end.)

  4. We’re still staying in all available platforms.

    The more Amazon fiddles and shifts with its experiments, the uneasier we feel. So now Bezos realizes that KU is sinking into a morass of chopped-up chapters, short stories and other workaround gimmicks to maximize authors’ earnings and yikes! we can’t have authors earning more or adjusting their system in response to whenever Amazon games theirs, so now…

    But it’s still a way to stop paying 70% of net book price to hardworking authors and to undercut our visibility on other platforms, especially overseas, where Amazon KDP is hardly king.

    And you still won’t know from month to month what their magic lottery pot looks like.

    We’re sticking with Scribd and Oyster, who are still in business and always pay a very generous percentage of the fixed cover price.

    • Scribd and Oyster can be generous per book, because their entire business model is based on subscribers not checking out very many books. (In fact, it simply can’t be profitable unless most subscribers don’t use if very often.) I don’t know of any writers who are making any significant money from either service, and I know many who have gotten absolutely zero money from it.

      But, hey, if it works for you, great.

    • What a shame that authors should now actually have to keep the readers’ attention long enough to make a little money. If we do our jobs properly, this isn’t a problem.

    • . . . it’s still a way to stop paying 70% of net book price . . .

      No, it’s not. This new change to KU has nothing to do with book sales, only the way borrows will be compensated. Amazon’s subscription system is different from Scribd or Oyster, but not necessarily better or worse.

  5. “we can’t have authors earning more”

    Yeah, nasty Amazon has always been against authors earning more. That’s why they use 70% remittance instead of, say, 182%.


  6. I know what I’m about to say is a minor thing but I think this is going to make their reporting look really weird. It is kind of a step in the right direction because some authors were asking for data on what page readers generally read to… so this is a small inadvertent step towards that I guess.

    • Oh! Good point. I wonder exactly how the reporting will be formatted. It would be fascinating if we could see the rate at which readers read to the end. Of course one hopes that most of one’s books get read to the end. But it sure would be useful to find out how true that hope is.

      • It looks like they added this line:

        “After this change, you’ll be able to view your Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) Pages Read in your Sales Dashboard report by marketplace and title.”

        • Hmm. By title and marketplace is good. But if it just gives a page total without any indication of how many units were borrowed to generate that page total…we’ll still be in the dark.

    • I don’t think they’re going to break down each individual borrow down, just the title in general. Like, Title A had 200 borrows, total pages read of 15,000.

      Still, general knowledge is better than none, I guess.

      Let’s see: 15,000 divided by 200 equals 15. Hm. Actually, that’s pretty bad, telling me something was wrong with that book somewhere. I’d want to have a lot more page read on average than that.

    • I don’t think they’re going to break down each individual borrow down, just the title in general. Like, Title A had 200 borrows, total pages read of 15,000.

      Still, general knowledge is better than none, I guess.

      Let’s see: 15,000 divided by 200 = 75. Hm. Actually, that’s pretty bad, telling me something was wrong with that book somewhere. I’d want to have a lot more page read on average than that.

  7. As an author with 10 romance novels of over 200 pages each in KU this is excellent news for me.

    I worry a little though that the example in the announcement gives too optimistic a picture of total earnings per page. How many pages are KU customers reading now per month, one wonders? I read at least 1000 pages per month, though admittedly not all from KU, and they only get $ 9.90 for my KU subscription. How can that possibly work out?

    And what of readers who read offline, or take months to finish a borrowed book?

    • I assume they used those numbers to make it easy to grasp. I do not believe that it’s gonna be 10 cents per page. That would be ridiculous from Amazon’s POV (ie, 30 to 40 bucks payout to rent a novel and the renter pays 10 bucks per month!)

      Yeah, naw. I figure they already have enough figures to guess how much they will pay out, and it’s not gonna be tens of dollars per normal novel. And a short story might be 35 cents (as if sold for .99 under KDP). Maybe 2 bucks per novel? Three? We’ll see. Won’t have long to wait to hear author feedback

      I borrow at least a dozen books a month on KU, but I read to the end VERY VERY VERY few of them. But most I get through to 10%+, so they would have gotten the full payout under the old system. Under the new, most would get paid for 20 to 30 pages.

      Of course, it may turn out that many subbed up for KU at 10 a month, but don’t read that much. And so they can up payment for pages read.

      I’m so, so curious to see what my pals with novels and stories report as KU income under new payout.

      • That’s exactly why I’m opting the only title I have in out at the end of the current 90 days.

        It’s a short story, and a borrow was roughly double what I earned for a sale of it.

        Under the new structure, I’m guessing I’d receive a few cents for every full read of it. Doesn’t make business sense to keep it KDP only any longer.

  8. I got this email and read it several times.
    I don’t get it. First off, it’s too many numbers.
    What does a short story earn?
    A novella?
    A full length book?
    100 pages times 1000 times….
    I have a short story on KU, it was downloaded once this month. What do I get for that? .001 cents?

    • Only if the reader read all of it :o)

    • > What does a short story earn?

      we won’t know right away.

      It will depend on how short your ‘short story’ is, how much all the KU people read, and how much Amazon puts in the pot that month.

      There will be people who make more under the new scheme, there will be people who make less under the new scheme.

      But the key point is that the new scheme is based on paying authors based on how much of their work gets read.

      If you can crank out GRRM sized books that people will read, you will get paid a LOT more than someone cranking out the same number of short story titles.

    • Books don’t earn. Pages earn.

    • Using their example of “if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month”, every page read earns 10 cents in that month.

      If your short story is 10 pages long, and the reader reads all 10 pages, you earn $1. If they only read 2 pages, you earn 20 cents.

      The fund can vary and the pages read can vary, so some months it might be 8 cents per page and other months it might be 12 cents per page. But the days of short stories earning the same payout as longer works are over.

    • A short story will be no different from a novel: it will earn some unknown amount (to be determined in the following month just as the borrow rate is calculated now) according to the number of pages read.

      Looking at those numbers they gave is what triggered a panic attack for me yesterday, because they way they put it, it looked at first like all novels are going to earn at least $1K a month. Closer reading and some forum scanning showed me that it’s all going to depend on # of pages read, divided by the amount of the fund for that month.

  9. Amazon should have set it up this way in the beginning. But when you’re trying something new it’s not easy to anticipate all the potential problems. Sill, they probably should have realized that their rules were going to encourage writers to publish short books, while pulling their full-length books out of Select.

    I would imagine that a 200-page book is going to pay about the same as it does now, assuming the reader reads the entire book. A 400-page book should pay twice as much, assuming that most of the book is read.

    So it won’t be enough to hold readers’ attention for the first 10% of the book. You’ll need page-turners that keep them reading to the end.

  10. Does this also mean that reads from borrows or KU readers don’t boost your ranking anymore?

    • Ouch. Or does it mean that you don’t get the boost unless the entire book is read?

    • They don’t say, and it’s worth a question to them.

      I suspect that whatever effect it has on rankings isn’t going to change much, but since they are not doing the ‘10% threshold’ thing any more, it would be interesting to see what they count as the equivalent of a ‘sale’, just a borrow? or someone finishing the book? or somewhere in between?

    • This is a really important question: when does a KU book count towards your rankings? How many pages or what percentage makes it count?

      • I believe it always counted towards ranking, but wouldn’t show as a borrow on your dashboard unless 10 percent was read. So likely it will still immediately count as rank and now they calculate number of pages read.

        But I suppose now borrows may instantly show on dash, since the ten percent mark issue is going away…

        • I think you’re probably right. I remember seeing my rankings go up before the borrow hit reports (at the 10% read point). I would guess they would stick with that… I kind of just want to hear them confirm it. If borrows won’t affect rankings anymore… I’m moving more books out of Select.

        • Hey G, I’m really interested to see what you think of this. You were talking about writing short with Howie just the other day. You seemed to know your shtuff.

          I’d find/search your name in this thread, but when I do a ton of G’s show up. Weird. I’ll keep scanning. 🙂

      • Now there’s an interesting idea, though I don’t know if it’s also a good idea. I wonder what the result of two different rankings for a book might do: Sales rankings, and reading rankings.

        Books high on the sales charts are popular to buy (borrow?), books high on the reading charts are popular to read. Would be very interesting to see which books score high on the sales charts but low on the reading charts, and vice versa. I’m not sure what customers like me will do to those charts though, since I typically buy several months in advance of reading, thanks to ridiculous (or maybe normal, here) TBR backlogs.

        I can see a lot of reasons why the reading charts may not be popular to a lot of people though.

  11. This is a change to the entire book searching process. With page reads, Amazon can trend upward books that readers actually complete, meaning that readers get to have a better reading experience. This produces a third leg to the search process of book rank and author rank.

    As Amazon knows how many pages of a preview gets read, they can even include preview engagement in that calculation to determine what’s a satisfying page turner and what isn’t.

    This is all hooking readers up with books that are most readable. You might be able to fake this for 10 readers of a work, but you can’t fake this for 10,000 readers.

    So a high author ranking + high sales rank + a high completion rate will score you the highest spots in book searches.

    • I am not sure, but I would guess Amazon has known all along how may pages a reader finishes reading on their Kindle, so if they want to include that in their algorithm, it is probably already happening.

      • Yes. They’ve known. In fact, they will tell you how many pages you read of a particular book before you stopped- and never picked it up again.

        • That’s right…they have to know how many pages you have read so they can start you where you left off if you move to another device.

  12. I wonder what the erotica short story authors are going to do now?

    • Why should they do anything different?

      I think I’ve finished reading all of the erotica and romance novels I’ve ever read (except one trad pubbed romance). I’ve finished longer novels too.

      Avid readers are going to read.

      The question is, how much are the authors going to get paid? Regardless of content, if they are not making $, they will leave. Then what will happen to KU? I bet Amazon will do whatever they can to keep authors happy until Feb 2016.

    • Presumably they’ll pull all their stories out of KDP Select and go wide, since they won’t earn enough any more to make it worthwhile.

      • Naw. They’ll look for a sweet spot and mine it. By OCT some enterprising person will figure out the mist profitable story length and they will have a new “standard”. The ones that already have novels/novellas in the sub #2k paid range will probably make more than they are now.

        There might be some movement out of KU. Already some of the most popular material is against Amazon TOS. A great porn migration may be in the works, but is unlikely.

  13. This hurts me bad, personally. I work short, and I make a lot of money on the borrow system.

    This should effectively drop my earnings by two thirds. I don’t think they will be able to pay much above 2 cents per page.

    Eventually, I believe they will even have to pay much less than a cent per page. As the number of books rise and the “pot” remains static, Amazon either has to pay everyone less or keep adding millions to the pot.

    We all know eventually something had to give. I was hoping for another year on the gravy train…


    • Actually, I think the pay per page read is going to become quite static and predictable. Consider that every reader with access to KU is paying $x per month, and on average they read y pages per month. The payout per page is then $x/y, minus Amazon’s cut. The only way that figure will change is either the average number of pages read per month changes drastically, or Amazon takes a larger or smaller cut.

      Of course, how to extrapolate from there to your expected payout? No idea. Just write pages that people want to keep reading, I guess.

  14. By the by, I also believe some celebrating authors who were upset about the short reads will be singing a different tune in the future.

    If your long book doesn’t get fully read, you’ll no longer get the full borrow amount. So while a reader might have made it to the ten percent mark in the past (getting you a full borrow), now you may find yourself getting less because readers en masse are not finishing your books.

    People overestimate just how much readers complete longer works (see The Goldfinch completion rates for just one such example).

    Anyway, I think on the whole this is bad for most authors and only benefits a very few, and changes virtually nothing for readers.

    • “If your long book doesn’t get fully read, you’ll no longer get the full borrow amount. So while a reader might have made it to the ten percent mark in the past (getting you a full borrow), now you may find yourself getting less because readers en masse are not finishing your books.”

      So you’d better write a book that’s finished and makes the reader want to buy your other ones. How is that bad ?

      “changes virtually nothing for readers.” Except for perhaps readers who prefer longer works which were “abandonned”by writers who “mined” the short stories vein rather than longer works…

      • It’s not bad in the sense of being a bad thing.

        What I meant is that many authors may indeed find out that readers are not finishing their books and thus their payment will be less than expected.

        That is all I meant…

        • I think Amazon should add ‘achievements’ to Kindle, like Steam does for games. Then we could both find out exactly where readers get to in the story if they give up, and give them more encouragement to keep reading :).

          • I don’t know. I’m not convinced an achievement badge will convince me to continue reading a story that’s not enjoyable.


            Avvo did it, for God’s sake. They turned legal marketing into a game. No. It has to end.



              I’m right with you there.

              That crap offa Audible makes me crazy.

              Shaddup with the achievements!


          • Not achievement, but as a browser, I really LOVE the idea of having, after the reviews data on a book, an area for a browser to see where most readers end up in the book (ie, most get to 56% and drop it –meaning it has a sagging middle issue; 90% of readers complete this book–meaning somehow it really held the attention of the majority and so has good narrative drive; 80% dropped it before reacing the 25% mark–meaning it just doesn’t keep you turning pages.)

            I would find that useful as a buyer.

            It might hurt as an author to see such, but one could say it’s a feedback tool..a free one. If most readers drop your book at the 40 to 60% mark, then you got bogged down in the middle somewhere and can REVISE or just learn from that for the next one. If you see that the majority finish it: you done good. If you see the majority barely make it past the third chapter, time to really evaluate why they got away so soon.

        • I don’t really see anything wrong with that. A lot of readers not finishing a writer’s work should tell the writer something about their level of craftwork.

          • “A lot of readers not finishing a writer’s work should tell the writer something about their level of craftwork.”


            You bet.

            This reader thinks that there are hordes of writers who can start a book with a bang.

            There are quite a few who can write a decent middle.

            There are very few who can finish properly.


            • Oh, dear lord. Don’t get me started on disappointing endings. So many authors I’d love to read more of because they can spin a great story… but can’t bring myself to do so because the endings leave me weeping into my disappointment.

            • There are very few who can finish properly.

              Now that is my strength, if I do say so myself! I know how to end a story well. 😉

              • LOL,

                Grimmers…I’m gonner have another look at your stuff.

                A finisher…oy veh:)


              • I’ll have a go at that! Do you have a favourite amongst your worlds?

              • Me, too, J.M!

                • Thanks, guys!

                  If you want to try something short, go for Perilous Chance. Quite a few readers have good things to say about it.

                  A little longer? Then go for Sarvet’s Wanderyar or Devouring Light. The first is set in a mountain culture that’s a strange blend of Scandinavia and Nepal. The second is set in a Greco-Roman clockwork version of our solar system.

                  Only the really long immersive stuff works for you? Then Troll-magic is just the thing at 167,000 words. It’s set in a fantasy Scandinavia just entering the steam age.

                  Happy reading! I hope one of those will scratch your itch for a really good and satisfying ending. 😀

      • I write interactive fiction for adults, and up until recently, was a member of KDP available in KU.

        From the beginning of that program, I didn’t know where I stood, because s choose your own adventure means you jump pages/chapters (and therefor percentage read) very quickly, sliding back and forth in the page count dozens of times. I had minor success with them after a BookBub promo put me in the rankings, but I could never tell if anyone had actually read the full book, or how many people had borrowed it but unwittingly never triggered the royalty? Was I getting screwed or screwing them?

        This is more concerning to me, though. What does the “first read” mean? The first day? The first week? Up until you pass The End? Because I have 60 endings in my book, scattered through 526 pages of text and hundreds of reader choices.

        I’m almost regretting removing myself from KDP last month as I could have had a shorter peak into what it means for my style of books specifically.

        What are the odds I’ll get a straight answer out of Amazon?
        I am PLENTY happy to see that people game the system with short novellas, now, but what if someone only has a chance to read 10 pages of my book this week? But then they pick it up next month and finish every last ending? Do I never get paid for that?

        Seven years of production, multiple big publishers turned down, KDP slavery, and now it could be worse?Aw, hell no.

        Also, while I see no mention of it, it’s the big pubs who are costing them money here with their non-exclusive books paid at FULL royalty compared to us pleebs. It’s them who have profited from the folly. Not us little guys. Will they have to take the hit, too?

    • But if people aren’t reading all the way through long books, then they aren’t going to get so much per page, and again short fiction benefits.

      Seems there is still plenty of benefit to writing short fiction. It takes less work, and I would suspect a reader who gets through 20 pages of a 30 page short story will push on to the end. The reader of a 200 page novel who isn’t blown away in the first twenty pages might be more tempted to stop and move on. (And the writer is never paid for that extra 180 pages.)

      • Yeah, it’s not terrible necessarily for short fiction. Just compared to what I’m doing now, it’s definitely a blow to my bottom line.

        I’m guessing I’ll lose anywhere between 25% to 60% of my monthly income due to the payout changes.

        But on the bright side, I’m fairly certain I have good reader retention. And I do think that perhaps some of this will shake out okay and with a few other adjustments, I’ll do just fine.

        Best of luck to everyone, it’s going to get mighty interesting!!

        • So if I’m reading you right, G, you are saying that short fiction was getting an inflated return per page compared to longer works. Now it’s by the page so short isn’t going to pay out as heavily?

          Yeah, if you were gaming that system you are going to take a hit. That sucks man. Maybe a bit more warning would have been good.

          I liked that KU was such a great short story platform, I know lots of people like to read short.

          Your money might take a hit but you can mix it up a bit more now. Write a novel, short story, whatever you feel like, and get the same $ per page.

    • It’s still going to be a share of the pot, though. So if readers aren’t finishing many works at all, authors are still going to get a chunk of money for that 30% read, or whatever.

  15. A while back I made a comment that KU is pushing Indie Authors to write short stories and price them for $2.99 or less. I guess someone at Amazon either looked at the data or readers complained about the “light” eBooks offered. I’m not sure but I hope Amazon implemented this change to level the field somehow. Either books started and not finished or shorter books being paid the same as the longer ones. After all a writer should be compensated based on the length of his/her book and not only on number of books. I’ll have to pay closer attention how I’ll be compensated in the future.

    • Except it’s not leveling the playing field. It was level. This is slanting it back in favor of novel length work, a trait that been SOP in publishing for about 75 years now, if not longer, and largely originating in the cost effectiveness for printing certain length stories, something that should have little or no bearing on a digital subscription service. Not to mention, pay per page? That’s regressive and backward thinking, in my opinion. I would argue with your statement that a writer deserves to be paid more for a longer work. Do you pay extra for longer songs? Do you pay a premium ticket price for a longer movie?

      • This is comparing apples to oranges to ask about long songs or movies. For decades, writers have been paid more for longer stories. Short stories were sold in collections or in magazines which effectively reduced the royalty per story, and then with the arrival of ebooks, a short story has almost always been priced lower than a longer novel, meaning the author earned less. And besides, I would feel totally ripped off if I bought a full priced ticket to a movie that was only 10 minutes long.

        And as some have pointed out, this will have no effect on readers at all. So they are not paying per page, they are still paying per month. It is only authors that will be affected.

        Before KU, writers of short stories were almost always paid less than writers of longer works. This is a return to something along those lines.

        • It basically takes a bit from the top short work authors and distributes that money out to everyone else…that’s how it seems to me.

          It stings but it wasn’t completely fair how it was previously, where short works made so much more than longer ones.

          But I had adjusted and was finally starting to succeed in a big way, so this stings pretty badly for me. But I’m used to taking these lumps in this biz.

      • Wait. So writing a novel takes the same amount of time as writing a short story?

        No, this system is far more fair than the old one. If it takes me 6 months to write a 100K novel, and it takes you 6 months to write 10 10K short stories, then we should get paid the same per page (or time spent reading), not per item.

        • Hugh,

          I agree its fair in that it levels the playing field.

          On the other hand, it does seem that they’re progressing down a path to eventually pay everyone less on a per book or per page basis…

          Which would be in line with how other media industries have handled subscription services and the like, paying the artists pennies for songs etc

          So although it has leveled the field, in my estimation its just wealth redistribution. Which is fine, except for me, it’s MY WEALTH that’s being redistributed! 🙂

          That makes it a slightly bitter pill to swallow for the moment. Imagine having your biggest stock market loss by far in one day, like say somewhere between 30-70 percent of your net worth evaporating based on a law changing.

          Even though for me it was projected earnings, I was on track to do it, and this has totally turned my world upside down…

          • No, it’s not “your wealth” that’s being redistributed. It’s the reader’s money.

            And I would suggest that you wait and see what happens instead of assuming the worst and condemning Amazon for something that you don’t really know will happen.

            • Yes, agreed that in reality it is not my money.

              But in terms of what had been established as the norm–I was easily able to predict my earnings and what my work was achieving. And it was based on the rules that Amazon had put in place, that I worked hard to succeed in adjusting to.

              I did succeed, I was benefiting from having made some huge adjustments to my business, and was projecting some revenue that was pretty meaningful.

              To have all of that change in the blink of an eye in order to tilt the board back from where AMAZON HAD TILTED IT IN THE FIRST PLACE is definitely a shock and a big slap in the face.

              It happens. But believe me, I see authors complaining and raising a stink about getting a book returned, a few bad one star reviews, or having a poor sales day.

              For me, this news is the equivalent of the gov’t walking in and telling you your house is now worth zero dollars because…they felt like it.

              • RealityObserver

                Now that last is just hyperbole. Unless you have a mobile home, you can’t pick up the house and move it elsewhere. Amazon is not the government – you have options. They are not required to ensure that anyone makes a living – at least not yet. (And if they ever are? Likely as not, you won’t be one of those deemed worthy of making a living doing what you’re doing either. Unless you know someone at the local Commissar’s office.)

              • But, G, again, why do you assume everyone is going to rush to read longer fiction? What if they continue to read short works (in bulk) and you get paid by page. Isn’t it possible it might end up averaging out the same?

                Unless you had lots of people that read 10% of a 10 page work by clicking on the first page and don’t bother to go further than a few pages. If people are right and that kind of stuff was gaming the system that can’t be a good long term. A key issue with KU is the long term health of the ecosystem. If it is only filled with junk (because longer fiction doesn’t pay) than it could get shut down or lose subscribers.

                I sure wish I had a bunch of short fiction to put up on KU. Even if it drops a bit, it’s a great way for writers to introduce themselves. And I’d bet at least a few of your short stories would be a good starting place for a novella or two.

                • Hey, it’s for sure less. I’ll give you an example.

                  I would write, say, a ten to twelve thousand word book as part of a series. So if I had three books in the series, its around thirty or thirty five thousand words total.

                  This only made sense for KU and so I did this specifically because of Amazon’s system and the way they also reward fast releases.

                  For a borrow rate of 1.20 or 1.30 per book, I made a lot of money for that amount of writing.

                  Was it fair? I didn’t make the system. I have a lot of readers and my read through rate from one book to the next is very high.

                  But when Amazon starts paying per page, and by necessity I have to believe it will land somewhere around 1 cent per page, I will now be getting somewhere around 30 cents per book read.

                  So now instead of 1.30 I get just .30. Over a lot of borrows, this adds up to a tremendous loss of income, compared to what I get right now.

                  All in all, its definitely a loss. I have some adjustments in mind to start to offset some of the loss when it happens, but its still a big hit.

                  I’m just whining. 🙂

                • BTW, I know some will say that I shouldn’t have gotten 1.30 per borrow for 10-15k word books.


                  But Amazon made this KU system. When it first started, all my books were getting hammered and I experienced a huge drop in visibility because I wasn’t in KU. I was wide release always.

                  So I started doing KU and tailoring my output to what the mighty Zon was dictating. I did it well. I changed up my game. I started succeeding within the KU system that had nearly crushed me.

                  And now they drop another bomb. Its just frustrating to have to shake it off, dust it off, collect my teeth off the ground, and start over with new strategies.

                • And now they drop another bomb. Its just frustrating to have to shake it off, dust it off, collect my teeth off the ground, and start over with new strategies.

                  I hear you!

                  Indies can turn on a dime, but few can turn on an atom! Best of luck to you as you switch strategies once again.

              • I get where you’re coming from, G.

                I’m excited about this change because of the extra data I’ll be able to see with the page counts and also because I’ve been working on rolling out a longer work strategy this month and this change makes that more viable.

                But my amazon income right now is almost entirely based on very short erotica. From the mostly speculative math I’ve been doing, I’m about to lose 70-80% of my amazon income. Yeah, that’ll hurt.

                I’m hoping I can keep moving on this full length novel plan fast enough that I can recover quick, but I’m betting there’s going to be a very not pretty transition phase in between.

                I’ll make it through. Stuff changes. I can deal. I think this change will be for the better once the fall out is done, but it’s still going to sting before it gets better.

                I can’t imagine how bad off people making more money than me are going to be. *shudder* That’s a lot of money to lose overnight…

                • It is a lot. People don’t realize how big of a drop someone like me (and there are a lot of us) experienced. It’s thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars difference…

                  It happened in the course of reading a short email that came out of nowhere.

                  Of course, this is business. If you can’t take the heat…etc etc

                  I get it. Some will benefit. For some, this will be the great equalizer that allows their novels to finally get some equal pay for borrows.

                  That’s great. And I am glad that the writers of longer fiction are getting more money for their hard hours at the computer.

                  But its come at a heavy cost for me, and I was employing my strategy because Amazon set up the system this way. And when they originally set it up, they screwed my visibility on the non-KU books I had that were doing well in their store.

                  So to me, it feels a little like Whack a Mole only I’m not sure who is the Mole and who has the hammer but I just know my head is sore.

                • They changed the rules on you G!

                  On 2 weeks notice!


                  (did that summarize it?)

    • I stand by what I said that Amazon leveled the playing field, and for sure it moved our cheese. Take nothing for granted, be nimble be quick. In my opinion, unless proven wrong in the future, the compensation to the writer may not be affected much, although if you write three shorts and one flops is different than one long novel, same combined word count, that flops.
      I don’t know about you, but I keep track of how many books ‘borrowed and sold’ versus how much revenue I get from Amazon. Just as an example last year my average was $1.08 per book. This year the average is $1.93 per book. Having all the data I can extract other information, when needed.

  16. P.G.

    Oh, no!

    Something else to suffer Catholic guilt about.

    I shall never be released….


  17. I confess this is fortuitous timing for me, since I’ll get to gather first-hand data of how the new scheme works. At the end of April, I put one of my older series into KU, seven full-length novels in all. So in May and June, I’ll see how the old payment structure worked, and then I can compare it with July’s results.

  18. Can we all please take a moment to appreciate that Amazon received a ton of feedback from AUTHORS and worked for a solution to their complaints? That is deserving of applause, whether it all works for the better or not.

    • Absolutely.

    • Amazon cares about CUSTOMERS (readers in this case). This will benefit some readers.

      Authors? Not sure. I don’t think the payout is going to be as high as their example ($10) suggested.

      • I’ll repeat that: Amazon cares about Customers. They do not care about authors. In that sense they are like Big Publishing.

        Anyway: I’m not playing those games. They only benefit those authors who sell their books very cheaply. And maybe not even them.

    • yes!

    • Exactly! The fact they even listen to authors puts them a huge step above the old guard.

    • Are you SURE Amazon was listening to authors?

      Fellow author Scott Nicholson made this comment over on kBoards: “Why does anyone assume this is even remotely about writers?”

      It was largely ignored, but Scott is right: Amazon is all about its customer experience.

      This has nothing to do with authors, and everything to do with customers.

      If customers can’t find enough novels to keep renewing their KU subscription, Amazon will have to do something to raise the stakes. This is it.

      But, while it’s an improvement, it still isn’t the same royalty an author would make on a sale, or on a borrow at Scribd or Oyster.

      I foresee a lot of “I’m gonna wait and see what happens” from a lot of authors.

      • I’m thinking it’s both authors and readers.

        KU subscribers (readers) complain about all the short trash that’s been accumulating (scammers uploading wiki articles and calling them books etc.) in the KU pool since it started. It’s getting harder for them to search for actual books among the drek. Those types of offerings won’t earn much of anything under this new system and will fall by the wayside. Problem solved for readers.

        Authors have complained that short works get paid the same amount as full length novels. The new system pays based on length AND whether something is actually read or not. So, whether you’re writing lots of shorts that get read or a few novels that get read, it won’t be any different. If you’re writing stuff that people put down after 15%, THEN you’re going to take a hit.

      • Well, maybe I’m foolish, but I’m taking them at their word when they say “We’re making this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors”.

        • It probably doesn’t affect readers much at all, so…shrug. I dunno. Maybe take the statement a face value. Amazon isn’t super manipulative about this sort of thing, they seem to be above board in their dealings with authors. Whether we like it or not, that’s different, but them being straight with authors seems to be their policy.

          But what do I know.

      • “I foresee a lot of “I’m gonna wait and see what happens” from a lot of authors.”

        There’s really no choice in the matter from the authors end. It’ll take at least three months before we have enough data to make even an educated guess.

        Right now, based on an hour of thinking about it, I feel this is a change for the better.

        But….we’ll see.

  19. I have no idea about my KU compensation. When this business started almost a year ago, I left Select because I was taking big losses. I only left one novel and some short stories in, and they are there to attract more readers. This change won’t really make any difference to me, but frankly, if I want new readers I do better lowering prices on the KU items.

    I don’t believe for a moment that almost all authors stayed in Select. I know too many people who have left.

  20. Some of our borrows are for 250,000 novels, others are for 10,000 word stories. The proportions are about equal. So, we ought to do somewhat better under the new scheme. Mind you, you don’t know until you know.

    But, this should encourage writers to write books to the length that the story demands, no more and no less. No “gaming the system”. So, in that sense, it is a positive development.

    Sure, some people might pad their word count, but excessively flabby writing will probably not be tolerated by readers. It should be self correcting.

    No doubt Amazon will continue to change its business practices and writers will have to adjust accordingly. That’s the way the market works.

  21. Oh, no! That evil Bezos. Actually listening to author feedback, responding, and changing royalty terms. What nefarious schemes does he still have hidden up his sleeve?

    Thank God, Big Pub will never stoop to such shenanigans.


    The Authors Guild Sycophants

  22. I’m thrilled with this…well, thrilled until I see what happens when the other foot drops. For me, it’s a huge bonus because I write longer works and even my two shorts aren’t at all short (+20K words), but for my 400 pagers, this is awesome-sauce of the tastiest sort.

    I’m especially excited to see if we’ll get information about the read-through rates and other data. They must have had this data and so much more and it will be wonderful to get a peek at some of it.

    Yippee! Thanks for listening, Zon.

  23. This is my comment on kBoards:

    “I no longer have a dog in this race. I went wide some months ago, and I’m pleased with what I’ve done.

    I had planned to use KU to launch my new pen name, and now I’m glad that I can wait to see what the payouts will be before I take that step. I’m honestly much more interested in selling my stories, or letting them be borrowed for full royalties in Scribd and Oyster, than I am in random “take what we pay you, but you won’t know until a month and a half after you sign up” shenanigans.

    The new pen name may well launch wide after all…”

    I will expand it to say that I have always tried to write what I would like to read, and that each of my stories, whether it’s a short story or a novel, was written with sales in mind, not borrows.

    If a story of mine is short, it’s because I’ve told all of that particular story. I don’t pad the work with unnecessary words, and I don’t shorten the work unless the story demands it.

    It will be interesting, to say the least. But, unless Amazon changes Kindle Unlimited so that a firm royalty payment is paid on each borrow, allowing the author to roughly calculate earnings, I don’t foresee going back into it.

  24. Hey, is it just me or is the math Amazon used wacky? I read the email, and I’ll assume that their 10M pages is a valid amount. But… (and please correct me where I’m off base here, b/c I can’t see it) according to their math, they’re going to pay a $10.00 royalty per book for one that gets read just a hundred times in a month?

    My Spidey Sense is redlining here– this is too good to be true isn’t it? WTH is really going on? I feel like I’m at an Amway meeting…

    • Oh no, its totally wacky. That example was not reality at all.

      None of us knows what the real total amount of pages read will be, and so none of us knows what the per page amount paid to authors will be.

      We don’t have a clue, but we can make some estimates based on what fits the typical Amazon modus operandi.

      I think somewhere around 1 cent per page is obvious. Anything higher will be a welcome surprise, lower will sting even worse than the 1 cent stings.

      • What’s I’m missing in your analysis, and which I admit I’ll have to see, is how knowing which works are being read to completion will affect rankings and visibility.

        With big publisher hard backs, unfinished books mean less if the hype gets the book sold to begin with and the full sales price stays with the publisher.

        What I see as a big potential plus for me is seeing what a finished book will mean.

        • Agreed. Right now there’s no indication that Amazon will use “pages read” to change the way they rank books.

          So far its just changing our payout.

          But they COULD use that information to change how a book ranks or how it is displayed and given visibility in store, and it would make things very, very interesting were they to do so.

  25. And presto bingo, watch my serial turn into a novel! It’s a breathtaking trick particular to indies, called “agility.”

    • #Jen

      Bending over backwards clapping hands.

      Yes, agility. Seems so much like the fast eating the slow.


    • But why? If the book is good enough that readers will want to continue, then the serials will be good enough that the readers want to continue. Each entry is free to them, and Amazon will push the next one onto them.

      I don’t think this change makes serialization a bad idea. It just stops novels from being a bad idea.

      • Per page is per page. It doesn’t matter at all whether you chop it up or keep it long. Not one bit.

        Although there are still ranking and visibility considerations (more frequent releases should still be beneficial)…

        It is, as has been stated, a leveling of the field because short work was so overly compensated based on the flat rate borrowing system.

        So actually, in terms of raw payout it doesn’t appear to matter WHAT you do in terms of length anymore.

        • It is, as has been stated, a leveling of the field because short work was so overly compensated based on the flat rate borrowing system.

          Except shorts that people were buying for $2.99 will now only get $0.20 when borrowed.

          I don’t think there’s any way Amazon can make KU payouts ‘fair’, but I think these random, massive changes are just going to encourage more writers to stay out of it altogether. And since KU is tied to KDP Select, that means more writers will stop being Amazon-exclusive.

          I’m not sure whether that’s really want Amazon intended.

          • Some authors with longer novels will now opt in, and Amazon may also want to whittle down the amount of books in KU.

            It seems to me that given the static pot amount, the $$ Amazon had to add to the pot every month only grows if there is no attrition and more books keep entering the fray.

            So with this one stroke, they may succeed at eliminating some of the worst performing books and authors, as well as scammers and KU system gamers, while potentially adding back some longer form, novel writers.

            From Amazon’s perspective its a good move, likely. It may give some benefit to the KU subscriber who will have more novels to access…

            For those of us who tailored our work to the old KU payout system, it is like someone just dumped cold water on our heads.

            But you recover, you adjust, you start all over again. No other choice.

            • If the number of subscribers to KU grows, the pot will grow.

              If the number of subscribers doesn’t grow, they will be reading about the same amount, and the money to authors will be steady

              under what condition does the readership grow that the pot of money won’t

              • Every month Amazon has had to add millions to the pot of money to make it work out. So even if the subscriber base grows I can’t see Amazon continuing to sweeten the pot indefinitely.

                • I suspect that the size of the pot is directly correlated to the number of KU subscribers. If the number of readers doesn’t grow, I can’t see Amazon adding more money out of their own pocket.

                  I think your estimates of 1c per page seem likely, since that means that each KU subscriber reads on average about 700 pages per month.

                • Arguing the size of the pot is a moot point. Amazon decides what they wish to pay that month and THEN they adjust the size of the pot. This gives them total control of just about every aspect of KU.

                  From a business point of view this is brilliant and I doubt will ever change, regardless of any adjustments they make now or in the future.

                  Amazon had a year of KU to determine the sweetspot of $1.30ish. I think the new payout will be slightly above that to lure more authors in with full-length works. After that they will embark on a search for the new sweetspot.

                  We can speculate all we want here but the truth is we won’t know anything for another month and half. Then we’ll need a few more months after that just to get a tentative average payout.

                  I won’t be making any hasty business decisions until then.

      • “If the book is good enough that readers will want to continue…”

        But there is less “friction” in a page turn. I mean: When the reader reaches the end of part 1, he has to decide whether it is worth the trouble to download part 2, but if the whole thing is already there, he just turns the page and continues until the end or until he gets bored. (Also, he might reach the end of an installment at an inopportune time, when he can’t get online, and then the momentum to continue is lost.

        I loved the first five pages of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, had to put it aside — life intrudes — and then, weeks later remembered that I was reading it, and couldn’t remember where I had left it (this is the honking huge hardcover I’m talking about). Much as I still mean to read it, I haven’t made time to track it down.

      • “If the book is good enough that readers will want to continue, then the serials will be good enough that the readers want to continue. Each entry is free to them, and Amazon will push the next one onto them.” –

        I like this, more of the author’s work gets pushed for the reader to consider. And I see this as equally true regardless of form or length!

      • All very good points. But my serialization experiment (which I’ve enjoyed, and was worth it in any case, even if I haven’t published any of it yet) was mainly for the purpose of reaching out to KU subscribers. Now that short works are no longer a superior way to do that, I think I’ll package and present this story differently. It’s not that serialization isn’t a good idea anymore; it’s more that it’s no longer the best idea for this particular project.

        I think this change is good overall. I’m not knee jerking or freaking out. I’m glad I have all the power to decide what’s best as circumstances change.

  26. I think a lot of people are missing this key line:

    “Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it.”

    Soo… What does that mean? What if they read 10 pages in the first time they download it, then click into something else to read, and go back to your book later.

    Does that mean that you ONLY get paid for the first 10 pages because that’s all they read the “first” time they were in your book? Will you get paid for the rest later? How much later? Is there a time frame on how long it’ll take Amazon to pay out, or an “expiration date?” How can they track what a person reads if they change devices (phone to Kindle, Kindle to tablet, etc) and it’s still the “first time” they’ve read the book?

    Also, two words: airplane mode. What if someone downloads your book, goes on a trip, reads it and deletes it from their device before bringing it “live” again. How will your device tell Amazon it “read” your whole book before it was deleted from the device?

    These are questions I haven’t seen answered yet by Amazon. I’ve seen a lot of people hypothesizing, but no one with a firm answer yet from the ‘Zon.

    Bottom line: I would not put all my eggs in one basket, because at any time, as this proves, Amazon can change the payment rules and you’re stuck for whatever’s left of your latest 90-day opt-out period. (Worst-case, 90 days.)

    • The rule is sensible in light of the many, many rereaders who will read the same book or parts of the book over again up to you know 5 or 6 times. Think textbooks or fiction readers like, ahem, me.

      • I get the “you only get paid for one read not multiple reads” intent.

        What bothers me is they don’t clarify that you will get paid for ALL of what someone reads, even if it’s not during the “first” reading session that the book is open.

        • Scribd used to pay me sometimes months later for a fuller read, they had a two tier system then, not sure what it is now.

          Can’t imagine with advances in reader detection that Amazon couldn’t simply pay for new page reads in the same book each month until read or abandoned.

        • I’m pretty sure ‘first reading’ refers to the first time the book is checked out by the KU subscriber. Not the first time they open the book. This would prevent a subscriber from checking out a book over and over and re-reading it ten times. They can still do that if they love a book, but the author would only be paid for the very first time. Or, say the reader jumps back into the book after reading the first 50 pages, then stops reading for a few weeks, and so they want to refresh their memory and go back ten pages and re-read those. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t get paid for them re-reading the pages.

      • Or somebody starts a book, gets distracted, returns to it next month. First month, author gets credit for the first ten pages.
        Next month, for the rest.

        • That’s the assumption, but that’s not what it actually says. It’s open to interpretation either way.

          I’ve emailed Amazon for clarification.

          • I’ve understood it in the simple sense–you get paid for the first read of pages. Many of us, if we enjoy a book, or have a non-fic title, go back to reread parts. You won’t get paid for rereads of pages. Just “first time reads” of pages. That makes sense, actually. And that would apply to reborrows.

            I might reborrow a book I had to return to read something else that I wanted to read MORE urgently. Then I borrow again a book and start over. Author would not get paid for pages I already read (and possibly not get paid AT ALL for any pages read on a reborrow).

            First time pages read could mean ONE read of pages and could mean ONE read of the pages and ONE borrow.

            Glad you asked for clarification.

            • It seems to me that the pronoun “it” refers to page, not the book, because “page” is the subject of the sentence. It would be awfully bad legalese if Amazon meant “book” by the pronoun “it”.

    • My guess is that they mean the first time any particular page is read, so if you skip back to an earlier chapter, or re-read the entire book, that will not count.

      And it seems pretty obvious they will have to pay for every page read even if it is in multiple reading sessions. How often does anyone read an entire book in one sitting? That would just be silly if they penalized the author because someone started reading your book and then their phone rang.

      And thank goodness, any decision regarding Select is only relevant for a minimum of 90 days as compared to life plus 70 years. 90 days is not that long.

      As for your question about airplane mode, there is one way to test it. Open a new book and read part way through while in airplane mode, then delete it from that device. Then sign back onto Amazon for a bit. Finally re-download the book or open it on another device and see if it picks up where you left off. If so, then Amazon still knows how many pages you read even though you deleted the book.

    • I winder about airplane mode also.

      I’m not a KU subscriber, but I keep wireless turned off while reading, because it preserves the battery charge. I only turn wireless on to download new purchases.

      I’m guessing that my device keeps a record of all my reading, even though I return each book to its beginning after I reach the end. And whispernets the data to Amazon each time I turn on wireless.

      I hope that is so. But I’d like to know for sure.

      • I’m the same way, otherwise, it sucks down battery life. A lot of people do that.

        Something else I asked in my email to Amazon.

        • On Android, the kindle app keeps a record in the “cache” of where you are in each book, on each device. Once you go online, or sync, the cache is compared with the database on Amazon. However, you can go into the app settings and clear the app cache. In that case, it would not have a record of the pages read.

          I’m sure iOS and FireOS are similar. No app or device is communicating with amazon in realtime as you turn a page. I don’t know what the setting are, but its probably when you open an app, when you close an app, and ever 5-10 minutes or so at most.

    • Tymber,
      If Amazon says they pay per-page on the first read, then they are obligated to pay for the read, regardless of how long it takes to read all/part of a book or how many books they skip around in. Each month a reader reads Y more pages of a book, the author would be paid Y times the $/page-read for that month.
      They use this language because they won’t pay for the second or third time the same pages in the same book are read.
      As far as reading with wireless off and then deleting a book, this is not relevant because it is a statistically miniscule part of the events-pie and Amazon would retain all the data anyway (you delete “the book” but not the invisible data).

    • Does that mean that you ONLY get paid for the first 10 pages because that’s all they read the “first” time they were in your book?

      You’re conflating page reads with times a book is open. It’s pretty clear; you get paid for each page read the first time that page is read.

      Read it as:

      Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read [each page].

      What if someone downloads your book, goes on a trip, reads it and deletes it from their device before bringing it “live” again. How will your device tell Amazon it “read” your whole book before it was deleted from the device?

      It doesn’t matter what you do between syncs; Amazon sees it when you sync it. It might not be realtime, for the reason you note, but at the same time, readers enrolled in Kindle Unlimited would need to sync their devices fairly regularly.

  27. Amazon is only talking about KU. If you have a title in a KCD and the readers springs for 99¢, you earn 69.4% for each book downloaded. I just came off a KCD and saw 3141 books downloaded. That is a nice 6 day paycheck. Borrows and crossover sales are lagniappe. SFReader nailed it. Write a book that engages the reader. I don’t know of any indie book on any venue that sells unless promoted. IMO, I will have to design well-run promotion campaigns and perhaps more often. In two years I’ve only put 6 novels and a three book boxed set on the market. I don’t have the readership to take to other sales venues. I’m thinking for myself and making the best decisions I can for my books in the climate afforded us. That is all any of us can do. Works for me.

    Finding Home

  28. This is brilliant.

  29. I really like this new system. Now, I’m wondering if I should stay in KU or branch out like I’ve always planned.

    • I had a short story in KU for 6 months and it did get purchased more often than when it was not in KU. Apparently KU increased its visibility.

      But I want to build a readership that goes beyond Amazon, so I remain broadly distributed. The short story in KU was an experiment.

      I’m planning on another experiment in the fall. I’ll release 5 new titles in Select and keep them there for 3 – 6 months and then go wide. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.

      • I know, I also want to get those readers not on Amazon. Still, those read through statistics that KU will now have is really tempting. It’ll tell you if you’re doing something right or if you need to do some tweaking.

  30. Excellent. They needed to make this change if they didn’t want KU to become all short stories and serials, and they did it.

  31. Phyllis Humphrey

    I’m so pleased that Amazon listened to authors and revised the system. All my books in KDP were long ones, so I wasn’t doing as well as authors who wrote short. However, for years before KU I was already planning my novellas and expected to do better because of their shorter length. Now the novellas are up and I don’t have to worry about any of it. Like Hugh Howey says, we still have to write books that readers want to finish. Which is a good thing.

  32. Is it me or is their math off?
    100*100*1,000,000/100,000,000 = $100 not $1000

    I could be wrong, but my calculator keeps telling me I’m not.

    • It’s you, because you’re multiplying the pages read by 1 million instead of 10 million.

      It’s 100 * 100 * 10,000,000 / 100,000,000
      not 100 * 100 * 1,000,000 / 100,000,000

  33. This is agreat opportunity for a new metric.

    Pages read/Pages borrowed.

    If a 100 page book is borowed 10 times, that is 1,000 pages borrowed.

    If 678 of those pages are read, then 678/1,000 =.678

    .678 becomes a metric that tells us exactly how readers responded.

    Put it right up next to those stars when the title is displayed. It is another way to rank consumer satisfaction.

    No need to submit a review. Consumer behavior takes care of it.

    • the Other Diana

      It would be great to have the metric but there is a difference between half of the readers stopping at 50% and half finishing it. Your average would be 75%.

      It would be interesting to see the numbers instead of the average.

      Authors can already see if their stuff sells- if readers go on from book 1 to book 2…. that says a lot.

      I don’t think the metric would help readers decide. I read what I like, not what someone says is popular. But that’s just me.

      • It would be interesting to see the numbers instead of the average.

        Sure. Show it as 678/1,000 = .678

        I can see BookBub demanding 500,000 pages read and a score of .8 or above instead of a review number and score.

        • I think Diana’s suggestion works with yours, Terrence. Just like Amazon breaks down the star ratings based on the number of people who gave each rating, it would be interesting to know WHY a particular book has a 0.5 rating – maybe 2/3 of people didn’t get past 10%, but those who did read all the way to the end. ie- if it’s your kind of book, you’re going to love it!

          • Agree. A histogram like they have for star scores would work well. It would be even more fun if they extended it to cover paid books, too.

            Best sellers nobody actually reads? Unknowns with completion indices near 1.00? I wonder if Amazon has already been using it to select books for its own imprints?

            • Smart Debut Authur

              They have.

              High reader completion rates on my books and long average reading-session-lengths are why A-pub made me an offer.

              I know, because I asked them. 🙂

              • Sweet! They used a reasonable system to rate you. Fairness, it’s shocking!

                • Smart Debut Author

                  Methinks it has little to do with fairness.

                  Amazon’s focus is always the customer. They want to publish and promote the kind of page-turners that their customers will *ENJOY* reading, so they keep coming back and buying more.

                  Legacy publishing can learn a lot from Amazon.

                  Instead of wasting millions of dollars acquiring and marketing oh-so-precious unreadable crap like “The Goldfinch” — which data shows fewer than 44% of purchasers were able to force themselves to even finish — maybe they should put more of that muscle behind books people would actually *LIKE* to read.

                  But don’t hold your breath. Hold your arms wide and collect their customers, instead. 🙂

                • Smart Debut: Why would BPH care if readers finished THE GOLDFINCH and such? They got their money when hordes bought the novel (out of curiosity or out of real desire to read it or because they loved her previous novel or because it got a Pulitzer or cuz buzz). When I buy a hardcover from a trad pub, they get paid. If I never crack it open, they still got paid. If I use it as a doorstop, they still got paid. If I rip it up for word art, they still got paid.

                  The cha-ching is what matters.

                  Tartt takes ages to write a book, so it’s not as if this is gonna be an annual thing. It was an event. In ten years, she’ll have another event, perhaps, and her publisher will find a way to make that one a megaseller, too. 😀

                  “After collecting data between January and November 2014 from more than 21m users, in countries including Canada, the US, the UK, France, Italy and the Netherlands, Kobo found that its most completed book of 2014 in the UK was not a Man Booker or Baileys prize winner. Instead, readers were most keen to finish Casey Kelleher’s self-published thriller Rotten to the Core, which doesn’t even feature on the overall bestseller list – although Kelleher has gone on to win a book deal with Amazon’s UK publishing imprint Thomas & Mercer after selling nearly 150,000 copies of her three self-published novels.”

                  Hey, I’d be more likely to finish a fun thriller than a ponderous lit event book. No lie. And my degree is in English Lit. (blush)

                • Why would BPH care if readers finished THE GOLDFINCH and such?

                  If lots of consumers finished the first book, the probability increases they will buy the author’s second.

                • Smart Debut Authur

                  Hey Mir,

                  You’re right, but traditional publishing’s strategy has a vast and self-destructive downside. The reason trad-pub’s target “one-book-a-year reader” only reads that one book a year and not more is precisely because that one book is so often an unfinishable (for most) miserable experience like The Goldfinch.

                  By pretending to be “tastemakers” the largest traditional publishers have managed to turn tens of millions of people away from reading for pleasure. They’ve turned reading into an unpleasant cultural obligation that one must pretend to pay lip service to. It’s no great mystery why legacy pub middlemen and pundits now whine about how “no one reads anymore” while a vast explosion in pleasure reading has created a brand new market for indie authors.

                  If legacy pub’s authors were marketed to readers and compensated based on how much their books were actually read and enjoyed, then Lee Child would be earning a hell of a lot more than he does, and Donna Tartt would have a tiny niche readership. But far more importantly, WAY more people would be reading WAY more books.

                  And as indie market share growth continues to accelerate, that’s exactly what we’ll see.

                • Terence, her third book will be bought for the same reason her second was in large part–they make it a cool lit thing to do. Whether it will be gold like the second, who knows? But in 5 or 10 years, folks will forget why they didn’t finish #2 and buy the book: “Oh, Tartt has a new one. It’s an EVENT!” Well, maybe. 🙂

                  12 Years a Slave had an even lower finish rate than The Goldfinch (fewer than 30% finished it says Kobo). Many people buy what they think they ought to, what others are buying, and what is gonna be or is a film.

                  You think years ago that the folks who bought A Brief History of Time read it, the majority? I was a member of an amateur astronomical society back when that came out, and all sorts of folks were snapping that book up. But they weren’t REALLY reading it. hahahha It was cool to buy.

                  But I bet folks really are reading those fat GoT books. 😀 And one of the most “read-through all the way” authors of 2014 was Nora Roberts (two books in the Kobo top 10 finished-reads). She may not be art, but she makes em turn pages to get to the romance HEA.

                  I think genre books that are well-constructed are gonna do well with the pages read payout.

                • Hey, I finished A Brief History of Time. I thought it was fascinating. Of course, I didn’t pay for it…

                • Terence, her third book will be bought for the same reason her second was in large part–they make it a cool lit thing to do.

                  That may be true. I’m really not familiar with that specific book and author. I’m more concerned with the general concern a publisher would have with consumer reaction and satisfaction with an author. But that doesn’t eliminate all other reasons consumers may execute a repeat buy.

                  Someone here mentioned Amazon told here they selected her on the basis of consumer completions.

              • This is so interesting. Thanks!

            • I also wonder if Zon has been using this sort of data to determine which books to invite into sales promotions?

              Silly me…OF COURSE they are.

  34. I think the fear all of us in KU are feeling comes not from the per page payout, but wondering and worrying exactly how far the average reader gets in our books before jumping ship. If we had data on that from even the last year, it could reassure us–or make us panic. 😉 Either way, we’d know and could plan accordingly. Instead, we’re left stumbling in the dark.

  35. Wow, Amazon just handed you all the most valuable piece of market data possible for publishers. Not to mention that they fixed the biggest problem with Kindle Unlimited for readers, making it a much better investment for us.

    • Pages read per book is a great piece of data to have.

      Very valuable. I love that part of it, assuming its as straightforward to figure out as I am hoping it will be.

      As for fixing the problem, that really depends where you sit. If you were working well within the current system, you didn’t have a problem.

      If you felt that the current system was somehow unfair to your type of writing then perhaps this has evened that out some.

      But this is also a little like going to a restaurant and only paying for the 75% of the steak you eat. Or drinking a coffee and only paying for the 30% you felt like drinking.

      Only, in this case that savings doesn’t reach the customer, but just the franchiser who gets to keep the extra cash that isn’t being recouped by the restauranteur.

      • No, KU is not a steak you order off the menu. KU is a buffet. It like paying $50 to go to a restaurant every day and eat whatever you want.

  36. I can’t make the figures work. A KU subscriber pays (round numbers) $10 a month; Amazon takes at least 30% for overhead; which means subscribers read fewer than 70 pages a month, or Amazon loses money. Or, a 400 page book that sells for $10 makes $7 for its author, but if it’s read within KU it makes $40 for its author – almost six times as much.

    Either that’s an intern’s memo that wasn’t proofread, or Amazon is lying through its teeth. By a factor of ten.

    If a BPH released a come-on saying “If the average advance for a debut is $750,000 … ” you’d all quite rightly be full of scorn and cynicism.

    This level of dishonesty is new, I think.

    • I agree with this statement, Lee.

      And sadly, I’m not sure which is worse. That Amazon let something so off-target go accidentally out into the world..or that they perhaps INTENTIONALLY tried to mislead folks with their wacky math.

      Either way, those numbers did not help someone like me to figure out what the hell I might earn when this kicks in.

      The borrow rate has always been a little tricky, but I typically just estimate it at a conservative 1.2 per borrow.

      Now, they’ve changed it to something that I have to do some kind of voodoo to try and guesstimate. It’s got me pretty upset.

      • I’d be about 15% upset. “Your margin is my opportunity.” You’ll make about 85% of what you used to, apples to apples.

        • No, It’s a bit worse than that. They’re also possibly hitting me on the KU bonuses, which was quite lucrative for me.

          So I am estimating a loss of anywhere from 25-70% of my current revenue.

          • Then sell out, man. Come over to the dark side.

            • Lol. Eh, even with big losses I still make good money and have total freedom.

              I believe I can make some strategic adjustments too, but there’s just so much that’s unknown. What will the dang page rate payment be?

              Will they use the read through statistics to change ranking or visibility metrics?

              How much will bonuses change, and so on…

              Once the dust settles, I will find opportunities and other advantages again. This just ticks me off cuz I had my strategy down and it was working perfectly.

              Foiled again!!!

              • Good luck, my friend.

                • Aw, come on, Lee. Be fair, now. Not a “new level of dishonesty” — they were just posing an illustration “for simplicity” (their words) using hypothetical, round numbers, solely for clarity of the example.

                  There’s no way that (in one of their illustrations) a 100-page book, read only 100 times, will really earn $1000 — nor did I take them as suggesting anything like that. They were just using round numbers to show the concept in a way that would be easy to grasp.

                  In reality, I expect the payout to be a penny per page read, or a bit less — maybe $0.008 or so. At a penny a page, a 500-page borrowed ebook, read all the way through, would bring the author $5.00. At $.008, $4.00. Reasonably comparable to the royalty he’d get by selling the book outright at, say, $5.99. Even better than the royalty he’d get selling it at $4.99 or less.

                  In any case, certainly fairer than the current egalitarian payout of about $1.35, regardless of length. Under the current “from each according to his ability” arrangement, a 20-page “story” read 10% (2 pages) earns exactly the same $1.35 as the 500-page novel read 10% — except the latter would get zero payout until 50 pages are read.

                  So, this new borrowing payout earns the writer far more than he got before for his borrowed books. In fact, far more than he’d ever get from “the Dark Side” (heh, cute)…unless his name were Lee Child.



                • @Robert Bidinotto,

                  I agree with the round numbers premise. I agree that the expected payout is probably going to be on the order of “a penny a page”. So why not use $0.01 per page in the example? That would lead to nice round figures, too.

                  Of course, I can’t rule out the possibility that KU may pay out better than direct sales – now THERE would be an interesting incentive to go Amazon-exclusive.

                  Time will tell.

                • Smart Debut Author

                  Lee, you’re a good guy and an inspiration.

                  Just for fun, you should indie-publish a Reacher short.

                  I dare you. I double-dog dare you. 🙂

                  Or, if Reacher’s not a contractual possibility, then how about a Frances Neagley spinoff story?

                  I love Neagley… she needs more airtime.

      • Either way, those numbers did not help someone like me to figure out what the hell I might earn when this kicks in.

        Agree. Their purpose was to provide an understanding of how the rate will be computed and applied.

        I don’t know how anyone could figure their own earnings unless they knew how many of their own pages had been read.

    • “If a BPH released a come-on saying “If the average advance for a debut is $750,000 … ” you’d all quite rightly be full of scorn and cynicism.”

      And this is important, too. We should be calling Amazon out when they so blatantly exaggerate the positivity of the financial aspect for their authors.

      At least, in the case of the 750k advance, that occasionally happens.

      But in the case of Amazon’s funky math example that Lee discussed, that will never happen. There will never be a ten cent per page borrow rate paid by Amazon. Never. We’ll be lucky to see 2 cents a page, and even 3 or 4 cents is an impossibility.

      4 cents a page would mean a two hundred page book would get $8.00 for a complete read through!

      • There will never be a ten cent per page borrow rate paid by Amazon. Never.

        Of course ther won’t. That’s easy to see. Who thinks there will be? Who is misled by this? It’s an example of a computation. No more.

        People are suggesting one cent per page. Where does that come from? Anyone have figures on total pages borrowed vs read?

    • Too many people are taking the example they put in the letter literally. It’s just there to demonstrate the math. Amazon is not going to pay you $0.10 per page. My guess is it will be somewhere between 0.008 and 0.01 per page, making the revenue roughly equal to somewhat less than you would get for the sale of a book.

      If you write say a 10K word story and put it up for 0.99, as many folks do for short works like that, you make 0.35 on a sale. With the page count system, if your story is read all the way through, you’ll make probably 0.25-0.30. A 100K word novel would make around 3.00, again, if read all the way through. While it’s less than a sale if your book is priced 3.99 or above, it’s still way better than the 1.35 we’ve been getting lately.

      • Why give such an unrealistic example of the math without any base line of what might be reality, though?

        That seems intentional or just piss poor PR.

        It’s stupid to give an example of something that would never, ever happen.

        And by the way, Amazon definitely has an idea of how many pages are read each month. They could have easily included a range of possibilities along with caveats to be clear they weren’t making promises.

        • Why give such an unrealistic example of the math without any base line of what might be reality, though?

          That, I can’t answer. Possibly someone simply got the decimal wrong and no one caught it before they pressed “send”.

          Or, maybe so few books get read clear through that they can pay .10 per page.

          Of course they know how many pages are read, they’ve known all along, which is how they were able to come up with this pay out system. We’ll see. I’m just glad it’s much more merit-based than the previous system.

      • Too many people are taking the example they put in the letter literally.

        I agree, but it was disingenuous of Amazon to use 10 cents per page as their hypothetical example (“just to keep the math simple”), when the real rate is more likely to be 1 cent per page.

        • In fact, so many people on kboards are taking it seriously that I’m even going back over the math and trying to see if they might be right.

          Where’s Data Guy? Put up the bat signal!!!

      • Let’s assume that Amazon knows math.

        And that they aren’t lying.

        Just rounding.

        But they are leaving out some important data: average open rate and completion percentage.

        Kobo released some figures for their ebooks showing an average open rate of about 65% and a completion rate of about 75%

        But no one games Kobo like they do KU, so the KU figures are going to be much lower.

        My guess is that the average indie author will be VERY depressed when Amazon tells them how few pages of their purchased books are actually read.

        Let’s assume for the sake of argument an open rate of 50% and a completion rate of 30%.

        And let’s use Amazon’s figures from their email (10 cents per page read):

        100 page book x $.10 per page = $10.00 per full read

        $10.00 per full read x .5 of borrows opened = $5.00

        $5.00 x .3 completion rate = $1.50 per borrow

        Doesn’t that look more reasonable?

        Of course Lee Child will get a much higher open rate and a higher percentage of pages read.

        But most indie authors will not.


        • An interesting theory, David. I can even see how a 30% completion rate might be true. Since a reader hasn’t sunk the cost into a book they read until they decide they don’t like the book and abandon it. Lots of reading 1-20% and a few reading to completion could work out to 30%. That kind of reading behavior isn’t completely impossible.

          However, this would still mean that the average KU subscriber reads 100 pages a month if we assume Amazon doesn’t make any money from the program. More like 65-70 pages a month is more likely. There’s no way that can be true.

          • However, this would still mean that the average KU subscriber reads 100 pages a month if we assume Amazon doesn’t make any money from the program. More like 65-70 pages a month is more likely. There’s no way that can be true.
            That’s extremely unlikely to be true, I agree. Is it more likely that some subscribers read 600-700 pages per month, and 90% of subscribers read almost nothing? I have no idea.

            • “That’s extremely unlikely to be true, I agree. Is it more likely that some subscribers read 600-700 pages per month, and 90% of subscribers read almost nothing? I have no idea.”

              Which still works out to an average of 60-70 pages. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around that.

              There are a few arguments in favor of this I can think of. One is that the other subscription services are presumably making money while paying the full royalty for readers who read a certain percentage of the book. Their monthly fee is roughly the same as Amazon’s. Unless things have changed since Smashwords added Scribd, they pay at 30%. All of this fits David’s theory. Hard as I find it to believe, he may be right.

          • “However, this would still mean that the average KU subscriber reads 100 pages a month if we assume Amazon doesn’t make any money from the program. More like 65-70 pages a month is more likely. There’s no way that can be true.”

            How could someone paying $9.99 a month read LESS than 100 pages? That confuses me. I had KU for 2 months then dropped it, because the value wasn’t there for me. I couldn’t find enough to read that I liked. But I easily read 5-6 full length novels a month. I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t read at least 1 novel a month is going to bother paying for Kindle Unlimited for more than a month or two.

            • “How could someone paying $9.99 a month read LESS than 100 pages?”

              How could someone pay for a gym membership they never use?

              Yet millions do.

              For most people, book reading is like exercise:


              • *raises hand* I have both a gym membership and an Audible membership I never use. Thanks for the reminder–I’ll go cancel that Audible one right now.

                • Lol. I guess. I don’t make enough to throw away $120 a year. I do have an audible account, and I end up using all my credits and purchasing more.

                  The gym membership… most of those places make you commit for a year. KU doesn’t. I’m not doubting there are people that pay for it and don’t use it… I’m just shaking my head in wonderment.

              • I go to the gym everyday, and my cost/day is 52 cents.

                God Bless all those people.

      • Why shouldn’t Amazon be called out by Lee Child for its pie-in-the-sky sales pitch to persuade the gullible go exclusive with them?

        They could have come up with a realistic sales example within the range of what they feel is fair to pay. We’re not third-graders who need a math problem explained with big, fat apples and blue wooden blocks.

        • We’re not third-graders who need a math problem explained with big, fat apples and blue wooden blocks.

          Unfortunately, I beg to differ from many of the responses I’ve seen thus far, mostly over on KBoards.

          Also, they did the same thing when KU first rolled out. So, it’s not like there isn’t precedent.

        • They could have come up with a realistic sales example within the range of what they feel is fair to pay. We’re not third-graders who need a math problem explained with big, fat apples and blue wooden blocks.

          I do. I want examples a third grader can comprehend. It makes it easier to understand.

    • Lee,

      Writer of page-turners (yourself included) could reasonably make $40 per borrow in KU, while most other authors would make pennies per borrow.

      Most KU borrows won’t be opened, and most opened ebooks won’t be read to completion.

      But maybe yours will.

      In the traditional publishing business, the bestsellers pay for the duds, but even then, a large percentage of books purchased are never actually read.

      What are you currently paid per page read?

      You have no way of knowing.

      Because that data doesn’t exist.

      Many people own your books but have never read them, and many have started reading them but will never finished.

      Amazon has data on pages read.

      That’s a real competitive advantage.

      Amazon wants the Lee Childs of the world to go exclusive with them.

      That’s why they’ll pay you (and anyone else who can keep the pages turning) much more than you’d get for an ebook download anywhere else.

      My guess is that under this new system, writers of page-turners will make out like bandits.

      And the rest will suffer.


      • Page turners, slowly or rapidly read, should be rewarded for capturing readers’ attention.

        Lee, are you keeping tabs on all this for more than curious reasons? 🙂

        Btw, I finish all books of yours I start, but now “bestsellers” in e-book that aren’t really read, may become apparent as hype-successes, and not as popular as advertised.

    • You’re not alone. I can’t see how any of these subscription models can ever work. As far as I can see, either the reader is screwed, the writer is screwed, or the retailer loses money.

    • If a BPH released a come-on saying “If the average advance for a debut is $750,000 … ” you’d all quite rightly be full of scorn and cynicism.
      This level of dishonesty is new, I think

      No. I’d use their example to gain an understanding of how the system works. The simpler they make the figures in the example, the easier it is to understand the math.

      Then I would apply that knowledge to more reasonable estimates of total pages when they became available.

      There is nothing dishonest about it. It is acommonly used technique.

  37. The old KU rules rewarded people for releasing a lot of little books.

    Like, weird.

    The new KU rules rewards people for writing books of any length that keep readers reading.

    The old KU rules incentivized authors to keep all of their longer books out of the system.

    Like, that’s a strange way to build a big library.

    Someone was talking about the next big thing. I wonder if getting paid by page read is going to be that next big thing.

    Will this transfer to non-KU books?

    Will customers only have to pay for the portion of the books they actually use?

  38. The KU-pocalypse after party has begun! 😀

  39. As an author who writes long books, I have to admit reading this put a big smile on my face. KU has definitely encouraged shorter works and serialization. This sounds like a more fair approach for authors, but will also provide more variety for KU readers. Totally a step in the right direction.

  40. ZirconiaPublishing

    The old unit was the borrow. The new unit is the Tolstoy, equivalent to 1300 pages. I expect a payout of $10 per Tolstoy.

    • Hahaha, that’s so good. Yes, $10 per Tolstoy sounds about right.

      Will they cap Tolstoy’s at something like 4 or 5 dollars though? Inquiring Minds want to know!

  41. Hey, I write kids books. 13,000 – 25,000 words kind of books. This month I’ll do $1000 in borrows. Next month. Um, (coughs uncomfortably) less. Quite a bit less, I think.

    So hey, we all get it. A great many of us are interested in ourselves first so I’d rather play the game that most benefits me. It appears this will benefit me less so I’m a little bummed.

    That all being said…let me now say this. On the one hand, there does seem to be something more fair about paying per page.

    But then again, maybe not.

    Part of the logic seems to be that the writer spends more time writing the 100,000 word book than the 20,000 word book so they should get paid more.

    But is that really how we judge art? By who tried the hardest? Who worked the longest?

    And is the biggest book the one that is always most valuable, most beloved?

    Of course not. Now, in the real physical world, page length absolutely has some relation to cost because of the cost of paper and of printing. So I get that there is SOME relation between length and cost but in the digital world that difference shouldn’t amount to much.

    Lion Witch Wardrobe 36,600 words
    The Outsiders 48,500 words
    Holes 47,000 words
    Flora & Ulysses 32,700 words
    When you Reach Me 39,200 words
    A Single Shard 33,700 words
    Charlotte’s Web 32,000 words

    This is a list of either Newberry award winning books or iconic and beloved books. Nobody gives a rat’s butt if Charlotte’s Web is 32,000 words or 132,000 words because it’s Charlotte’s Freaking Web! I guess what I’m saying is that although there’s part of me that understands the idea of paying people for more pages…on the other hand there’s something really weird about it. I mean, is the fact that you can spin more pages the goal? Or is the goal to produce a unified work that is beautiful? Something that is remembered and beloved because of how it moves people and stays with them?

    I don’t have the answer. Just thinking out loud and working this out for myself. As you’ll notice none of the books mentioned above are written by Daniel Kenney so hey, listen, I get it. Maybe my stuff is total crap and the point is moot for me.But, the point still remains. Part of paying by page seems to have a sense of fairplay…part of paying by page seems just plain weird.

    • Not unfair points. I suspect that a lot of the frisson over KU payouts is that Amazon is denying the indie publisher the right to choose their own price – something that has been seen as one of the core strengths of indie over traditional paths.

      More popular and beloved books will still receive a higher payout, because people will read them more. Once again, on yet another subject, I’d love to know what people will think looking back on this 50 years from now.

    • The difference lies in value for the reader. All other things being equal, a 50-page read provides less entertainment than a 200-page read. So its worth as a product is lower, from a purely utilitarian perspective. If I’m looking for a escape from reality, a big door-stopper novel is going to keep me in la-la-land longer, making my time on the bus or the restroom somewhat more pleasant.

      The fact that producing a novel is generally a longer-drawn process than a short story is also a factor, although not the most important one, since it will vary from writer to writer. Personally, writing a 120,000-word novel takes me 60-90 days, including rewrites, while short stories (5-10,000 words) require 10-15 days, so writing novels is more efficient for me, while for others it might not be.

      Any change is going to have winners and losers, of course. Those who like to write short stories may consider bundling them into anthologies and collections to keep readers turning pages without having to stop and buy/borrow multiple books.

      • But if we are looking at it from a purely utilitarian perspective, and the metric being used is amount of entertainment given, then what do we say about the short book that stays with and affects somebody for years as opposed to the really long book that is soon forgotten?

        Because the point is, things are rarely all equal. And the idea of things being equal is in fact, a really good point. a 9 year old boy is not equal to a 49 year old man. Whereas the 49 year old man may in fact prefer the 400 page book, publishing history tells us that the 9 year old boy usually doesn’t (and yes, there are notable exceptions 🙂 ) There’s better than half a chance that the 9 year old enjoying the hell out of a 100 page book is very similar to the 49 year old enjoying the hell out of the 400 page book. So in that circumstance, why shouldn’t both authors benefit close to equally?

        I think, in particular, the kids category is the one that may get the short end of this KU stick. I just hope that Amazon can think of some very intelligent way of understanding this and handicapping it or something like that?

        • Well, they are going to be benefiting equally from the new system: they are getting paid per page. If the 9-year old goes through ten 20-page books in the same amount of time a 49-year old goes through a 200-page novel, then the authors will get paid the same.

          The quickest solution I see to this situation is repackaging shorter books into collections/anthologies. That both adds convenience to the reader (who can jump to the next story/novella without the bother of going back and borrowing it) and gives the shorter-work author a product that can cater to the new rules.

    • It’s not about art. Or the consumer.

      It’s about the fact that the old rules drove authors to REMOVE longer works from KU library.

      If you’re Amazon and you want to build THE subscription library of all time, you can’t do it by pushing longer books out.

      • Completely agree. This is about them building their library. I get that. So I don’t really want to accept other authors who say now the system if finally fair and is paying fair. I”m not entirely sure it is paying fair. As you say, Amazon is adjusting the system to bring back in the longer works.

        Someday, when Amazon wants popular children’s works in KU, then they’ll make another adjustment. My hope is that they make the adjustment soon, that they understand that Children’s is its own animal with its own standards of ‘normal’ length…etc…

      • And put more succinctly, you also can’t build THE subscription library of all time by pushing shorter books out either. A library isn’t truly complete without a kid’s section.

    • Personally I see the change as paying the writer for what the reader reads, regardless of length.

      For me, it encourages me to write the best I can in the length that fits the story. I like that.

    • Part of paying by page seems to have a sense of fairplay…part of paying by page seems just plain weird.

      That’s how it strikes me, too.

  42. As someone whose books tend to be in the 100-120,000 word range, I applaud this change. Assuming an average rate of $0.01 per page, my books would be making $3-4 apiece (my short stories will range in the $0.15-25 apiece, which isn’t much lower than 35% of $0.99, the price I’d put them at for sale. Obviously the devil is in the details: we’ll have to wait and see what the per-page payout turns out to be.

    As a reader, I also approve: if a book didn’t hold my interest for more than a couple dozen pages, I think the author shouldn’t get any more $ than that. Under the previous system, if I plodded along for 10% of the book, the writer got the full $1.30 or so. Now, if they want full pay from readers, writers have to produce something people will want to follow through to the end – just the way it should be, IMHO.

  43. The ten cent per page example worried me, because it seemed unsustainable. The estimates in the comments have reassured me that the more likely per-page rate could easily be sustainable, so aside from being mildly irritated that there was some razzle-dazzle to make it sound like an extremely great deal, I’m cool with it.

    Not long until my next release and I’d intended to put it into Select anyway, so we’ll see how it compares.

  44. there are so many comments to read through… could someone just tell me this a few things?:

    How does a corporation know how many pages are READ, actually read, as opposed to pages turned, left half unread or never read?

    Is Amazon proposing to somehow surveil what people read? Seriously? And if so, how does one peek into others’ private reading habits?

    Thanks, I’d really like to know

    • They’re going to microchip their readers and scan their brainwaves to determine when they are actually reading as opposed to just flipping pages. Don’t tell me you didn’t get the memo? Every Kindle comes with a free microchip and self-insertion guide.

      They say it’s painless…

  45. there are so many comments to read through… could someone just tell me this a few things?:

    How does a corporation know how many pages are READ, actually read, as opposed to pages turned, left half unread or never read?

    Is Amazon proposing to somehow surveil what people read? Seriously? And if so, how does one peek into others’ private reading habits?

    Thanks, I’d really like to know

    • They develop the software and you are connected via the internet. The readers don’t actually have to “read,” they just have to have the device opened up to a page for a minimum of seconds.

      The software records and saves your usage data to a file that is transmitted to Amazon. It seems that this is technically feasible.

      I suspect a future version will detect brain waves and let Amazon know if you’re reading the work, enjoying it and what associated emotions were elicited. 🙂

      • thanks Jessy. And also thanks for the humor too. That was good of you. I understsand a little bit better now. But it seems kind of creepy to have a ‘machine’ following you around recording what you are doing re having a page open for x number of seconds.

        • Yeah… Google’s been doing that for years, so have all websites. Its how they serve up ads that are relevant to you. Its based on your browsing history. Theoretically, the data is not attached or readable in any way that makes it YOUR history, just this unassociated person on the internet. Theoretically.

  46. Darn. Just went wide again a few months ago.

    I may just have to try putting one of my books back into Select, because I write really looong thrillers (150,000-200,000 words), and readers seem to tear through them very quickly.

    KU didn’t make sense before, when I was only getting the same $1.40 that I would have received for a short-story.

    But now, who knows? I’ll probably try it and see.

    Choices, choices, choices… it’s a glorious time to be indie.

  47. The problem is that nowadays, lots of people love to collect things especially when they’re free. It’s like a compulsion. They collect movies on their hard drives, music, and yes, ebooks that they borrowed on KDP. How many of these borrows get read past 10 percent? The authors rejoicing today might be in for a big surprise in a few weeks…

  48. This reminds me a little bit of the scene in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, World where they try to agree how to divide up the money (that might or might not exist) into fair shares, per person, per car, a combination of per car and per person…

    And then end up jumping in their cars to try to take it all for themselves.

  49. Before you go down the silly road of thinking that the payout for KU will be 70% of the subscription revenue, remember KOLL. Under that analysis, that payout would be 0 cents per page. Maybe, just maybe, Amazon is playing a different game than traditional publishing. Maybe they intend to keep pumping extra money into the program as part of a broader strategy that realizes value in customer engagement. Maybe the changes they made are designed to change the mix of books in the program for that specific purpose.

    • “Maybe they intend to keep pumping extra money into the program as part of a broader strategy that realizes value in customer engagement. Maybe the changes they made are designed to change the mix of books in the program for that specific purpose.”

      They’re making their virus more virulent.

    • KU might not make a profit, and Amazon might not care. Maybe they know KU subscribers buy more stuff. Maybe Amazon just wants to crush Scribd and Oyster.

      Or maybe they’re running KU on a teeny, tiny margin and are fine with that.

      As you and others have speculated, I really think this is a move to get more novels back in KU in order to please readers.

      • People keep forgetting (or ignoring) the fact that KU/KULL and all that we think is important is really just teeny tiny bit of what is Amazon, and that the head crazy person running the place likes to experiment! If he sees something he likes he’ll expand on it — whether it makes a profit or not, or he’s not happy with it — he’ll simply drop it.

        Place your bets folks, this game is taking on a new twist!

  50. I haven’t decided whether I should be worried or not so I guess I’ll just wait. Why worry about something I can’t change right now anyway? My books come out of Select mid-July, so I should have at least an inkling of how they are doing the first two weeks.

    What would make this a much easier decision for everyone is if Amazon released last month’s page read data for us, so we have an idea of how many pages are being read. We can then do the math, ie, for every book borrowed, I average 100 pages read. Or whatever.

    Also, keep in mind, we will now be getting paid for the 9% at the beginning of a book that we never were paid for before, if the reader abandoned the book. For those who had a lot of borrows, that could really add up even if not every reader reads all the way through.

  51. Does anyone think, in a roundabout way, that this might affect ebook pricing as well?

    Even subliminally, if you knew the earnings per page amount, would you reverse the calculation to set your book price for standard purchase ($ per page * number of pages / % earned from sale)?

    I understand this limits revenue. However, depending on your goals, this might be a long run option for building fan base.

  52. My thoughts: The sky is falling

    • Interesting blog, thank you for linking it.

      What I got out of it is that for those gaming the system and their readers losing interest in them after the first 10%, the sky will indeed fall. But for those that cause the reader to stay up late to see what comes next? It’ll be raining money …

  53. Wow. For the record, I proposed/”prophesied” this KU payment method back in April on this blogpost: http://www.felixwhelan.com/two-birds-with-one-stone-an-ebook-subscription-model-that-is-financially-sustainable-and-which-solves-the-indie-author-quality-problem/. I wonder if Bezos reads my blog?

  54. This will also be good information for price setting. If consumers showed a high completion rate for book-1, that satisfaction level indicates a probability they will pay more for book-2. This is based on the notion they will pay more for what they like.

    Contrast that with a book-1 that had a low completion rate. Those consumers were not satisfied, and have a lower probability of paying more for book-2.

  55. Umm, did any one catch the important stuff in the page calculation section. They will report pages read AND borrows. So if you divide pages by borrows won’t that give you an estimate of where people STOP reading! Isn’t that a really powerful thing to have! Okay, back to lurking mode…momentary slip…I had to submit to the submit button 😉

    • No, because you’ll only get an average. If you had four borrows, two of which were full reads, one was 50% and one was 25%, you’ll get some number in the middle that will tell you nothing.

    • Two out of every three people that read your story stop halfway, the third finishes it. That would be an average of two-thirds — which won’t tell you where/why they stopped reading …

      Throw in the ones that read ten pages before figuring out they grabbed the wrong book and deities know what your average will look like.

    • Noticed that, too, Kathleen. 🙂

      I’ve got my fingers crossed that Amazon doesn’t stop reporting the number of KU/KOLL downloads, once the pay-for-pages goes into effect.

      • I agree. That borrows won’t be reported doesn’t mean more tweaking with more specifics won’t eventually start showing up. Esp if they’re aware a lot of writers would like this info. At least I’m hopeful that’ll be the direction the reporting will develop.

    • They will stop reporting borrows.

      “Borrows will be displayed as PAGES now instead of BORROWS. So TOTAL number of PAGES (not broken down by number of borrowers) will appear on the report where the “borrow” appears now. We’ll be getting no other information besides this. We won’t know the number of people who borrowed each book – will will JUST know the TOTAL number of pages read in each book.”


      • How does she know this? Did she get info from Amazon?

        • Yes, she contacted Amazon, and relayed what Amazon said to her. There is more info in the link I provided.

      • That’s far less useful. I would like a nice bar graph that shows percentages (even if only broken down into 10% categories) along the bottom with numbers along the y axis. But, I guess I’ll keep wishing. 🙂

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