In the continued saga that is the new Kindle Unlimited/Prime borrow payment structure, Amazon fired off an email to authors yesterday explaining how much they’re likely to earn per page — a whopping $0.006 per page (according to The Guardian).
I know. I know. Half a cent? In this economy!?
On the surface $0.006 sounds like crap. Authors slave over that page and they’ll only going to earn a half cent. Bummer, right? However, it does reward long, full-length novels that keeps reader’s attentions. If someone were to borrow and read every page of my novel Honor Among Thieves, I’d make more in the new system than the old system.
In fact, I’d make about 75% more.
Old system. 10% of my 373 page = $1.30ish
New system. 373 pages * $0.006 = $2.24
I like $2.24 more than $1.30. Of course, this only happens if the person borrowing my book is hooked and reads it from start to finish. If I lose them partway through (let’s say, page 100), I’ll only get paid for those 100 pages — roughly $0.60. My goal is to write an exciting, captivating page turner anyways, so I’m bummed if the reader doesn’t finish the book either way. I’m looking to gain a reader for life, not just a quick two bucks. But I rather get paid for just a few pages read on a borrow than someone not hit the 10% mark and get nothing.
I’ll also state that I still make more money if someone were to buy Honor Among Thieves than if they borrowed it. I get $3.42 per sale.
It’s not all roses, by any means. This new system definitely kicks short story authors in the pants. My Jake Hawking Adventure short stories — A Pirate’s Honor, The Royal Bounty Hunter and Little Queen’s Gambit — would earn me anywhere between $0.15 and $0.22 if read in it’s entirety under the new KENPC system.
In the old system, I earned a lot more when folks borrowed one of my short stories (again, $1.30ish) than if they purchased the story ($0.35). My short story collection, Jake Hawking & the Bounty Hunters, will only earn me $0.80 per fully read borrow under the new payment structure. I make $2.04 for each sale on that title, for those wondering.<
So writers who deal mostly in short fiction and novellas will more than likely see a decline in revenue. Being Amazon exclusive at that point might not be a good business model for them anymore, and branching out to other sites like Nook, Kobo, and iBooks might be more suitable.
But, as I’ve pointed out in previous posts, that’s the point of the new system. Novel authors were complaining that short stories were making the same amount per borrow as they were. Now they’re not. And the break-even page count between the new and old borrow system is just 220 pages. Let’s be honest, that’s not a crazy page count to hit. Six cents might not be much, but it seems fair when compared to the old system numbers.
What it comes down to it is this:
Readers, if you really want to benefit authors financially, buying is the way to go. If authors set up their prices well, they’ll always make more on a sale than a borrow.
Authors, this is an opt-in extra form of revenue. No other platform offers this. US libraries don’t even pay for each book borrow. You decide if it’s worth it. Experiment with Kindle Select for a term and see what the figures are like. Analyze and decide from there. Is it better to be exclusive and earn some money off pages read from borrows, or not be exclusive and hope those same customers buy your story instead? There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s no one size fits all in modern publishing.