Category Archive: Kindle Unlimited

Jul 08 2015

Kindle Unlimited: What Authors are Forgetting


I’ve been distracted from writing stories because of all the fuss going on about the changes to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited; so much so, I had to finally publish my two cents on the changes.

And, in this case, change is good.

Enrolling your book in the old Kindle Unlimited (KU 1.0) would have gotten you an estimated $1.34 per borrow (largely depending on the amount in the Kindle Select Global Fund and the number of borrows) after the reader got past the 10% mark, no matter the length of the book or how many pages were read.

Enrolling your book in the new Kindle Unlimited (KU 2.0) may earn you an estimated $0.0057 per pages read no matter the length of the book with an $11mil global fund (and an unknown estimate on pages read since it varies depending on how many books are enrolled and how many pages actually get read between now and the end of the month). The calculation comes from the most recent known pages read from June 2015. KU and KOLL customers read nearly 1.9 billion Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENPs) of KDP Select books.

PROs of both:

  • Each program allowed a book borrow to count toward the book’s ranking as a sale would, creating greater visibility the more borrows you get.
  • Authors can choose to enroll their books.
  • Authors can choose the price of their books.
  • Each program provides a greater chance of your book being discovered by readers—who can’t afford to pay full price for your book, afraid of taking a financial risk on a new-to-them author, or likes to browse more than the first 10% of a book—who otherwise would have passed on your book.
  • The author is getting paid for allowing a reader to borrow their book. This is a huge bonus, one a lot of authors tend to forget or fail to realize. **

PROs of KU 2.0:

  • KU 2.0 uses the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), an unspecified calculation that determines the exact page length for every book enrolled by making every page the same font, font size, removing extra spaces, etc.
  • It focuses on valuable content, making it harder for anyone to pad their book with extras in an attempt to game the system. An eligible page excludes front and back matter, i.e. table of contents, author bios, etc.
  • The system aims to be fairer for all book lengths (short, average, and longer works) by paying for pages read no matter the price, length, genre, etc. So the pages read from books enrolled in the KU 2.0 program is assigned the same amount of money and will payout the same, equal amount no matter the author, length, or genre.

CONs of both:

  • The payout amount changes monthly depending on how many customers subscribe to KU and how many books are enrolled, which determines the amount of money in the KDP Select Global Fund for the month, making this aspect unpredictable.
  • Exclusivity is mandatory to enroll in Kindle Select and the KU program.

CONs of KU 2.0

  • It contains bugs. Some authors, myself included, are reporting that their KENPC has not been generated for their book/s, and instead of an accurate KENPs read number in the KU dashboard chart there are placeholders reading 500 KENPs read.
  • Children books and graphic novels will payout lower since these types of books generally have a lower word count than the average novel, and word count determines the length of a KENPC. So many authors are concerned that these genres will take an unfair blow as a result of the changes.
  • The change is causing panic and uproar. Some authors are pulling their books from Kindle Select and encouraging others to do so. Petitions were started and signed, nasty words and accusations exchanged on blogs and social media, because many authors believe that their incomes will drop significantly due to the changes.

** Getting paid for borrows


With all the panic about the changes to Kindle Select, many of us are forgetting the best part of the Kindle Unlimited program, from an author/publisher/business standpoint, you are getting paid every time someone reads a page of your book WITHOUT purchasing it!

Let that sink in for a second.

Readers browse bookstores and libraries flipping through page after page, skimming, sitting and reading in many cases … in that scenario they don’t get charged for those pages read and you don’t get paid for those pages read, and it should be that way. After all, they haven’t purchased the book. They’re browsing, skimming, borrowing.

Kindle Unlimited allows readers to borrow books and, in exchange for enrolling your book, the author gets paid even if a reader only reads the first page. Granted, the payout is only estimated to be somewhere around half a cent a page (we won’t know for sure until August 2015), but I would feel guilty if someone paid me $1.00 every time a reader skimmed the first page of my book, especially when they can do so, without me seeing a [half] cent, by using Amazon’s Look Inside feature. So the question becomes, is $0.0057 a decent price for a page read but not purchased? Think about that.

In conclusion (aka my two cents): a borrow is not the same as a sale, and the money an author makes from a borrow should be considered a bonus to that author’s income.

And because I can reach more readers through KU than through other online retailers or from sales alone, I’m willing to take a chance. In my case, I have much more to gain than lose. So, because the pros outweigh the cons for me, I went ahead and enrolled each Refuge Inc. book into Kindle Unlimited, including The Complete Darkness Collection.

So what are your thoughts on the new Kindle Unlimited? Did I leave out any pros or cons? Let your voice be heard in the comment section.