Amazon is changing the way it pays self-published authors whose books are enlisted in the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending library to a pay-per-page-read model.
From 1st July, it will pay Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) author royalties depending on how many pages of a book a customer has read, as opposed to how many times a book has been borrowed. The rule will apply to UK authors on Amazon.co.uk as well as in the US.
The company said: “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.”
To help it accurately track pages customers have read, Amazon has developed the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), it said, which will calculate KENPC based on standard settings, such as font, line height and line spacing.
Despite changing the way authors will be paid through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners Lending Library, Amazon said it would continue to pay authors from 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. For example, Amazon said that if the fund was $10m and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month, then 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).
KDP authors have previously complained in a FutureBook piece about a loss of income after enrolling their titles in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, which launched in the US last summer Author Holly Ward, who has sold more than six million books since 2011 and first enrolled 60 titles in the new service: “I had my serials in it for 60 days and lost approx 75% of my income. That's counting borrows and bonuses. My sales dropped like a stone. The number of borrows was higher than sales. They didn't complement each other, as expected.”
Others have complained about being paid from a pot of money – the KDP Select Global Fund. “We shouldn't have to share a ‘pot’. I wish more authors would call them out because it's honestly ridiculous,” one said on an Amazon message board. “Music streaming services don't make artist share a pot.”