Let’s say you go to dinner tonight, but the cook who makes your meal is paid only for the bites you take. How would the restaurant manager know? He’d have to watch you closely, counting the number of times you bring the fork to your mouth.
This week we learned that Amazon will launch a pay-per-page service that aims to replace its policy of paying full royalties to authors whose readers accessed at least 10% of their e-book. Now authors will be paid for the number of “pages” accessed by readers. To help enforce this policy — so that self-published authors can’t just ramp up the size of the text, for example — Amazon has simultaneously launched the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC).
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According to Amazon, the change comes on the heels of a realization that the 10% marker was unfair to authors of longer books: it takes less effort — that is to say, less time — for a reader to reach the 10% threshold of a shorter book. Given that the total amount of earnable funds is limited by Amazon, this has meant a strained ecosystem of relatively short, mostly terrible books. And it has meant a market populated by bizarre quasi-literary themes — stepbrother sex novels are huge right now — meant to titillate the reader right up to the 10% threshold.
As usual, though, a shrewd business tactic lurks behind a self-professed act of charity. It’s not as if Amazon cares whether its self-published market is flooded with bad boy romances or dinosaur sex. They’ve known for yearsthat readers (consumers) prefer to read (buy) longer e-books. And that’s precisely why they will export this approach, whenever possible, beyond the limited domain of their lending library.
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You can see the refined efficiency of this factory approach, which chops up language into ever tinier bits of senseless trash, in Big Publishing’s renewed lust for the division of labor. Take, for example, Zoe Sugg’s Girl Online(2014), now the fast selling debut fiction of all time. Sugg, known widely in the UK as a Youtube megastar, did not, of course, write the book. It was ghostwritten. But Sugg is the book’s author, if you now understand authorship to mean “personality.” So the author isn’t dead so much as split in twain: now we have an author and a writer.
Link to the rest at Flavorwire and thanks to Dave for the tip.