New Kindle Direct Payment Policy

Amazon had announced a new method for determining payments to authors in the Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) programs. Previously the authors were getting paid when their book was borrowed and at least 10% was read. Once the book was partially read, the author got a share of the total pool paid to authors that month. It didn’t matter if the book was 10 pages long or 500, the author got the same amount for each borrow. Naturally this led to a lot of short stories and serialized books.

Starting July 1st, Amazon will pay strictly by the number of pages read. They will 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. This is what they say:

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.

Some people are reading this to mean that they might get as much as ten cents for each page read of their work. That is unlikely. The numbers given here are strictly for purposes of example. Amazon has not actually released any figures on the number of pages read for either last month or any previous month, so there is no way to tell how much they will end up paying per page read. Most people believe that a more likely figure is one to three cents a page.

Short story and novella writers could end up getting less money than they used to, while novel writers will probably do better than they have. Really bad writers are going to be hurt, because people will read only a short bit of their work and then quit. There are concerns that authors will create a lot of bloated writing to improve their page count, but readers will undoubtedly punish authors who do so.

I think the new Kindle direct payment policy is a positive development. Our novel is going to be upwards of 400 pages, and we were hesitant to put our novel into these programs to compete against authors who are cranking out short serial novels and short stories, because they were getting just as much per read as we would have. The new payment schedule more fairly rewards an author for the work they have done in writing their book. Also, paying by the page read will encourage authors to produce better, or at least more popular writing.

Here is a link to Amazon’s press release on the subject.

UPDATE:

The numbers are out. There are winners and losers, but most of the teeth gnashing and hand wringing is over. The payment for July is a little over 1/2 cent per page, but it isn’t that simple. A KDP page is not quite as big as a normal page, so your 200 page book may well be 400-500 KDP pages. So our hypothetical author above could make as much as $2.50 per borrow. If he has a longer book, he might well make more on a borrow that he does on a sale. People with longer novels are very happy. It sounds that Amazon might have known what it was doing with its new Kindle direct payment policy.