Amazon will pay authors based on number of e-book pages read

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Hmm. Sounds like a pretty bad deal for the authors and readers.

For one thing, there are books (e.g., reference or instruction books) that are meant to be read one specific page at a time, and are never intended to be read straight through. I’m sure Amazon won’t be shedding any tears at having to pay those authors less.

For another, it cements in place a business model that takes for granted that what pages the reader focuses on and for how long is anything the vendor needs to know. Maybe that ship has sailed in an age where every blog post has fifty different kinds of analytics loading alongside it, but still.


I pay for Kindle Unlimited and have on many occasions borrowed a book only to have given up reading it a few pages in, so there is certainly an argument to be had that paying people for borrows results in some bad actors who put up lots of crummy books in a hope to game the system.

On the flip side, occasionally I’ll get a non-fiction book that I skip large sections of because I’m looking for a specific piece of information. There is still high amount of value in what I’m looking up though.

I’m not sure there is a perfect solution here.


If video game publishers were paid based on the number of minutes played, Valve would have gone bankrupt ages ago, I suspect.


I honestly can’t decide whether this is more fair, or less.

I am interested to see how this will play out. I publish very short pieces of fiction and make a tidy sum off of them, not enough to live off of but enough to cover my mortgage each month. My stories are long for their genre, averaging about 20k words, with plots and a bit more literary polish than some of the stuff I’ve read. Currently, I get about $1.30 per download (if the downloader reads more than ten percent of the story, that is). A sale nets me about $2.00. I lose money in downloads but make up for it in volume, which is fine. With the new system, it’s hard to say if I’ll make more or less. If it’s two cents a page, which is a popular estimate on the KDP forums, then I’ll make money, assuming some reasonable definition of “page.” If it’s less than that, I won’t. We won’t really know until the reports come in on August 15.

This change is in response to the “scamphlet” thing, where people write the bare minimum (I want to say it’s 1000 words, but I don’t know, 'cause I have never written that short in my life) and opening and flipping through a page of it triggers the “read” flag, getting them $1.30 or so each time. It may also be an attempt to curb in erotica, which tends to be short. But that’d be foolish, since erotica is Amazon’s money-maker.


They’re not paying for re-reads? So if a book is so terrible that no one reads more than a few pages, the author doesn’t get paid, but if the book is so great/ such a useful reference that it gets read over and over the author also doesn’t get paid? Sounds like a good deal for Amazon…


Please post a followup in the forum once you see how this affects you.

I am interested. I assume this is an attempt to prevent scams, but wondering how it affects the real mccoys out there.

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Not sure if this is related, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about differences in what reading looks like and means to people as we experience it online and otherwise digitally.

I’ve read that, historically, the development of the novel fundamentally changed the phenomenon of individuality, producing a form of interiority that had not existed before. I’ve held it in my mind that reading is an act of resistance to groupthink, but a presentation by a group of artists name “Research Service” suggested that reading increasingly serves an entirely different purpose with the newer devices we have to do it. They argue that we’re programmatically “executing scripts” fed to us as suggestions by networks and our reading does less to distinguish us from a cloud as it does to strengthen the connections of the network that provides these services.

With this development from Amazon, I can’t help but see us as ever more like pipes that value is pumped through and extracted from. This only really diminishes the flow back to content sources (authors) by indexing that to the flow through us.

Seems ultimately very disempowering for everyone except Amazon to me…

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Maybe a system where you don’t get paid if the average number of pages read is under a certain amount would keep folks from flooding it with lousy books? That way you couldn’t make anything off books that nobody was enjoying enough to read past the first chapter.

And yeah, non-fiction books that aren’t the type that you necessarily read cover to cover, are going to get screwed by this system. I’m guessing maybe they’re not a type of book that is showing itself to be very popular with the borrowers? Maybe the folks using reference and instructional type books in that way are the minority (they might be buying the hard copy or the permanent copy or using libraries or something instead of borrowing on Amazon)?

Maybe they could use a different system for books categorized in categories where the readers use the books in a less cover-to-cover manner? Like if your book is in the cook book or repair manual or how-to or reference categories, you can pick to be compensated with the by the page way or maybe by how many times the book is opened or a combination of a lower-per-unit whole borrowing rate and page views?

I’m thinking the short erotica could still work fine with the new format, but it would just be published as collections rather than as stand-alone singles.

Do readers get a refund for the portions of books they didn’t get to?


I’m thinking the folks who are getting a lot of use out of book aren’t the main target audience for the borrowing programs. If you’re reading a book over and over or keep coming back to it as a reference, you’re more likely to be a buyer of a hard copy or permanent copy of that book. I use the borrowing (both from Kindle’s Lending Library and from a public library) for things that I’m likely just using once. I like it for stuff that I can just read and move on and they’re not cluttering up my shelves or stuff that I’m not too sure whether I’m going to dig it or not and want to explore without the risk of paying to purchase. The books that I’m revisiting or that I’m certain I’m going to like, I tend to buy outright.

Readers pay a flat rate every month regardless of how many books they read.

I’m an Amazon Prime member but not a Kindle Unlimited member. As such I can borrow one book per month through the Kindle Lending Library, which doesn’t account for whether or not I finish the books I borrow. Under this new scheme it appears that authors will be compensated based on how much of the borrowed book I actually read, but I’m still limited to borrowing one book per month whether I read it or not.

If the author doesn’t get paid for books I borrow but don’t read, then it seems like I should also have the option of returning unread books early without having to wait a full calendar month to start the next one.


That sounds like it would work out awesome for everyone! Most of the time the one-per-month is fine, but yeah, I’ve had months before where I picked a book that was totally not doing it for me and I knew right off and wished that I could have picked another one. Letting folks who didn’t read x-amount of pages of a book have the chance to abandon it and pick another if they don’t get past a certain amount of pages would rule. And it would encourage better content for the Kindle Library,too, if the authors knew that they couldn’t just be intriguing looking enough to get the monthly borrow and get paid, that they had to be good enough to not be abandoned under the minimum page threshold. It would help encourage authors to make sure their book was being marketed and described accurately,too. If you’re attracting a bunch of borrowers and not hooking them once they have it, maybe there’s something you need to fix to attract the right folks for your book.

And it could even give Amazon something measurable that they could use to see which authors to court and which works might need to be reviewed for quality without it costing them as much. If an author or book is getting borrowed and abandoned and folks are re-picking after it at an above-average frequency, maybe there’s some quality issues that need addressed.

As I understand it, the Amazon Prime Kindle Lending Library benefit isn’t actually directly funded through your Amazon Prime subscription. The KDP Select Global Fund seems to be just a random bucket of money that Amazon sets away to pay authors out of which is independent of the number of Amazon Prime subscribers.

Unfortunately Amazon is not particularly transparent on how the Global Fund gets set for the month, but it is always a nice round number, so it is definitely not directly based on a percentage of Prime fees (or even Kindle Unlimited fees which seems crazy).

Honestly, it really does look like there is just some guy looking at the balance sheet every month, guessing how many books they’ll have to pay out the next month and coming up with a number to ensure the $ per author doesn’t drop too much to keep authors from bolting.

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I could see it being able to be integrated with something that would make it so that you could borrow per month by the page,too. Like you could be limited to one whole book per month if your pic is over X amount of pages, or X amount of pages total if your pick is under X amount of pages. I’ve used my monthly freebie before on a book that was really quite short. It would have been nice that month to instead of having to wait all month for my next freebie to have been able to budget my left-over free pages toward another shorter work.

Don’t worry everyone, there’s no way that Amazon would ever do this with any of their other services or products.

I don’t see where it costs the buyer less if they don’t read it all. How weird.

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I really despise reading the comments to this story pretty much no matter where it is printed. Why? It is proof positive no one reads the fucking article and just starts spewing based upon the title. Let me help you out.

THIS ONLY APPLIES TO KINDLE UNLIMITED. Kindle Unlimited is the service where you pay a flat monthly free and you can read as much as you want from a big pool of books. Authors choose to be put into that pool. If you are not a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, this doesn’t effect you even a little.

This will not change how much Amazon takes or does not take from authors. No, seriously. If you think it does, you don’t understand how Kindle Unlimited works. The way Kindle Unlimited works is that they take all of the subscription money and throw it into a pool. Amazon takes their cut from the pool. What is left is a big pool of money they dole out to all of the authors who are participating in Kindle Unlimited. That pool left over for the authors is going to remain perfectly unchanged. The amount of money paid out to authors is going to remain the same; they are just changing how the pool pays out.

This new system is replacing an old system. Yes, the new system is not perfect and you can point to people who might get screwed by it. It is vastly better than the old system. What was the old system?

The old system worked like this: If you read 10% into a book, the author gets “someone read your book” tally. At the end of the month, they tally up how many books were “read” by the 10% rule and pay out proportionally. So, if a 100 books were read among all Kindle Unlimited authors, and I as an author scored 10 reads, I would get 10% of that pool.

The new system is similar but different. Instead of tallying up how many 10% reads you got, they just tally up the number of pages read. So, if a 100,000 pages are ready between all Kindle Unlimited authors, and I scored 10,000 pages read, I get 10% of that entire pool. Again, the pool size hasn’t changed, Amazon’s cut hasn’t changed, it just changes how things authors are paid from that pool. Some will win, some will lose.

The 10% system fucking sucks. Here is why.

  • It punish long form writers. You get paid per 10% read. That means that selling five 20 page books scores 5 times more cash than selling a single 100 page book. As a result, authors started to serialize fucking everything. Authors were punished for trying to write a single novel. That is god damn obnoxious. Authors should package their works into whatever size makes sense for them. There is no reason why short form should get a massive boost over long form. There is no reason to force an author to hack their novel up into 20 pieces so that they can score the most cash.

  • It is incredibly easy to scam. It turns Kindle Unlimited into a giant buzz feed like cesspool for books. Titles all become click bait. This is what someone does; they come up with a great title, write a bullshit summary of the work, make the work 20 pages long, and then write well enough for you to get 2 pages in before throwing your hands up in disgust. They only need you to get 2 pages in and they get paid. There are Kindle Unlimited books that are literally 2 pages long followed by 18 pages of complete nonsense. Another fun scam is to simply copy and paste wikipedia articles and call them books. As long as you get 2 pages in before going WTF, they get paid.

The new system is vastly better. Why? It doesn’t punish based upon length. Chop your book up any way you want, your goal is to get people to read pages. What is the best way to get someone to read pages? Make the page before it not suck. If you pump out short stories, you will feel no pain. If you write novels, this is going to kick ass. If you love to serialize, you can still do that; you are just not going to get a bonus for doing it. Basically, you can choose how to package your writing now, instead of being forced into a serialized form.

This also ends the 10% good, 90% shit scam. If your first 2 pages are good and the next 18 are shit, you are going to get 2 pages worth payment. This is going to murder a huge number of scams out there.

Authors who are freaking out should chill their shit. Yes, if you write short stories, you are now suddenly going to be on an even footing with long form authors. Amazon just cares how long you entertain the customer, rather than how many pieces of work they buy. This might make short story fiction a little less profitable than it was before (when it was over valued), because this is going to MURDER a huge number of scams, it actually means the entire pool gets bigger. It used to be that a part of that pool of money was going to scammers. That is about to end. So, while short story fiction now will get paid fairly in proportion to long form fiction, they are going to be paid from a pool that isn’t being robbed by scammers.

This is a win for literally everyone who isn’t a scammer. If Amazon isn’t taking any more money. This isn’t effecting that isn’t Kindle Unlimited. If Amazon makes more money, it is only because more people want to use Kindle Unlimited because it will hopefully be less filled with shit.

Finally, before pointing out how the new system doesn’t work for this or that; give me your alternative method of payment. Complaining about how the new system, while obviously better than the old one isn’t perfect without offering up an alternative is worthless. The number of pages someone reads is about as good of a proxy as you can get for “customer was happy and so read more”.