July 1, 2015 marked the launch of Amazon’s new policy for authors with books offered on Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or Kindle Unlimited which could change the future of the publishing industry. If you’re a self-published author on Amazon, here’s what you need to know.
What is Amazon’s New Policy?
Amazon’s new policy affects authors whose books may be borrowed under Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) subscription plan. The KDP fund will be allotted $11 million dollars for the months of June, July, and August.
This money will be paid to authors not for the amount of borrowed books downloaded, but instead per page read.
In short, this means that once you do the math, each author will only get .6 cents (just over half a cent) for each page read.
A page is not a page, though. If your book is available in print, then the amount of pages in your book will be listed as the same as in the print edition; if the book is only available digitally then Amazon has its own design elements to layout the pages which often may the book length shorter.
Online Money Explained explains that it’s an algorithm likely based on 6×9’’ paper at 11pt font, but there is a lot unknown at this point. In the end it makes a book about +11% different, and is referred to as the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC).
Amazon explains they did this to “align payout with the length of books and how much customers read.” They have understandably received considerable pushback…
Is this beneficial or harmful to authors? How so?
Well, let’s start off by reiterating that this only affects authors whose books may be borrowed. That said, if authors want their payout to be the same as before, the odds are that they’re going to have to start writing longer books.
FastCompany explains that if an author for example, writes a 220 page book and every page is read by each person who downloaded the book, only then will the author make the $1.30 he or she would have made before the policy change.
But in reality, hardly all readers read 100% of the pages in a book, especially not if they’re reading a borrowed book in the genre of nonfiction, children’s literature, or cookbooks, just some of the genres thought to be affected with this new policy, Rachel Manija Brown, self-published author, explains in The Guardian.
That means that if you want to increase the likelihood of more pages being read, more pages have to be written. This means that books which are shorter and get straight to their point, adding value to the reader, will still earn the author less money, than the longer books with too much meaningless fluff. The alternative to fluff though, is to write a longer book that’s better quality and keeps the author reading.
What can self-published authors do?
Authors could take the low road and add more of the aforementioned fluff. However, they could also strive to write longer, better written books that will catch the attention of the reader. Of course there is the reality that readers will sometimes stop reading, but the likelihood of that decreases if the quality of the content is higher, as I mentioned earlier.
Luckily for authors, Amazon tells us that, “Non-text elements within books including images, charts and graphs will count toward a book’s KENPC.” This means that adding images and more page breaks and white space to books may be beneficial and influence a higher payout.
- This subscription system is optional and there are more platforms other than Amazon (though, note that Amazon has a larger reader-base).
- This only affects those whose books are borrowed, not sold, meaning that if a book is purchased then an author will still receive the same amount of money as they would have before July 1, 2015.
- This process hurts poorly written, shorter books. Thus it encourages higher quality content from authors.
- The new policy helps to improve Amazon’s brand as it helps to filter the quality of the books, influencing authors to write higher quality content.
- If by chance, some authors cannot improve the quality of their writing, they may choose to leave KDP, which allocates more funds to the smaller amount of remaining authors.