This is, of course, my third post about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. Part One is here, and Part 2 is here. It’s been almost a year since Kindle Unlimited has been started, and authors have been complaining about poor payouts from the fund Amazon sets aside based on how many borrows they get. Authors in the program were very irate that shorter books, some no longer than a pamphlet and poorly edited and written, were enrolled in KDP Select and getting the exact same payment that another hard working novelist would get for their book.
Amazon is now going to base the payout on pages read, rather than simply a percentage of the book read. Some might think that this is good news for authors who write longer books, and very bad news for those who wrote very short books (like only 5-6000 words long) and based their royalty on how many borrows they would get, rather than how many pages were read. Many children’s book authors are also upset, since their books have significantly fewer words than most novels.
Here’s the thing, though. I recently attempted to read Donna Tartt’s mega-novel, The Goldfinch. I gave up after I got about 3/4 of the way through the first chapter. Her book is roughly 780 pages long, and I got about 4% of the way through the book, I’d suppose (since it was an e-book, I could not tell you the actual page number.) Based on the old system, if I had borrowed her book, she would not have been paid a penny, since I never made it past 10% of the book. Under the new system, she would have been paid a little bit, because she’d be paid by how many pages I read.
Now, say I borrowed another 780ish page tome, like Game of Thrones. I finished reading the book, so George R. R. Martin would get a lot of money, since it’s paid by the page and I actually finished it. Some of the kboard regulars are in a tailspin over this, for many reasons, not the least of which is that pretty covers and witty blurbs aren’t going to be enough to get a reader to finish a book and get their full payout. Since it is assumed that Amazon is attempting to get some of the longer and higher quality books back into KU, they are not going to put a threshold on borrows, making it like $1.37 per book like they were doing. A longer book that people finish reading are going to be making more money per finished book, otherwise I don’t think Amazon would have bothered with this move.
All we can do is see what happens in the next few months. My Liam Huntington mystery series has been on hold, not because of Kindle Unlimited and it’s dramas, but on account of my schedule being extremely tight. In this way, Kindle Unlimited hasn’t really affected me. I’m very glad my books are available at Nook and iTunes and Google Play, since this makes them available to people all over the world. Amazon’s “unlimited” is still rather limited to me.