Amazon May Pay Self-Published Authors No More Than $0.006 Per Page Read

So much for writing short.

Amazon May Pay Self-Published Authors No More Than $0.006 Per Page Read
[Photo: Flickr user Morten Mitchell Larød]

Last month, Amazon took a page out of Spotify’s playbook, electing to start paying its self-published authors by the page rather than per download. The new model was put into action Wednesday–and it looks like the e-commerce giant may now pay writers no more than $0.006 for each page read, according to The Guardian.


In an email sent to authors on Wednesday, Amazon noted that customers of the two platforms affected by this change–Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited–had read almost 1.9 billion pages in June, The Guardian reports. The company wrote in the email that it planned to shell out at least $11 million each month for June, July, and August. Do the math, and that could come out to as little as $0.006 for each page turned.

In other words, for an author to make $1.30 on an ebook rental, he or she would have to write at least 220 pages, and the reader would have to flip through every page. As a literary editor told The Guardian, this could hit nonfiction writers and children’s book authors particularly hard, since their books tend to fall on the shorter side.

So what can authors do to survive the new policy? Increasing font size is a no-go, since Amazon is now standardizing that across the board, along with line spacing and height, through the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC). The best option for writers at Amazon’s mercy: Fill your pages will illustrations, photos, and infographics–and hope that your novel is the next Gone Girl.

Update: An Amazon spokesperson told Fast Company that since the new payment plan only applies to subscription platforms, it does not impact the sale of purchased books:

Starting July 1, the payout of the KDP Select Global Fund will be based on the number of pages Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library customers read. The total fund size will be at least $11M (the highest monthly payout to date). This is the same size fund as it would have been under the previous approach, though we think that the allocation of those $11M based on pages read rather than borrows will more closely align authors’ and readers’ interests . . . I’d also note that KDP author participation in this program is optional, and only applies to books borrowed through our subscriptions. It does not affect sales.

[via The Guardian]

About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.