As promised back in July, I’m revisiting the topic of the ongoing developments in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited program, or KU2 as some people are calling it. Now that the actual first per-page rates have been revealed (this came out on Aug. 15th) everyone knows exactly how much royalties they’ve earned in July. The numbers led to some giddy delight from some authors and despair from others writers. More on that in just a bit.
For those of you not up to speed on the KU2 program and how these changes impacted what authors are paid might want to start reading here. This will give you some background information.
First recapping some of the developments we saw crop up during the last month and a half since the program launched.
Page count changes:
The first thing everyone noticed was the recalculation of the official Amazon page count, what is called the KENPC. Amazon made their intentions clear up front, they wanted to create a page count baseline and convert all eligible e-books into their new page configuration. However, they didn’t disclose how they planned to recalculate, leaving many confused and worried. In the end many books experience huge page count bumps using the new formula. I don’t think anyone is upset about the page count changes and it’s possible the KENPC formatting is leveling the paying field, removing extra white space and overly large fonts or margins just as Amazon intended. However, I think most authors would still like to know how the KENPC is created so they will have a better idea of what their book number is before publishing.
System bugs and new information:
It was a new program, no one expected it to run perfectly and it didn’t. But the one major glitch only dropped everyone’s data for about two days. In addition some authors have also reported something called phantom borrows. Otherwise things ran fairly smoothly.
* Please Note: I am still looking for some official data on Phantom borrows. If anyone has an Amazon link to an explanation, please share in the comments area.*
Whereas many authors knew how closely Amazon monitors each user’s preferences, most readers didn’t think about it. Now everyone knows Amazon has the ability to count and keep track of every single page a person reads in their e-reader. To some readers the Big Brother tactics are too invasive. Savvy Kindle users have learned how to turn off their updates, effectively blocking Amazon from collecting real-time data from their devices. Of course the next time the user connects; Amazon will play catch-up and download their full history anyway. Users choosing to limit Amazon’s 24/7 access to their data stream, means some KU authors have seen some wild fluctuations in their data. It’s rather a minor inconvenience, the pages will get credited eventually.
The July rate released:
Hopefully people paid close attention to my predictions on the page rate back in June. I knew it was a mathematical improbability that Amazon would pay a penny a page. It just wasn’t realistic. However, at least for the first month the rate exceeded my expectations. The August rate was about .005789 per page read. If KU payout history repeats itself in KU2, this will be the highest rate authors will ever receive. Meaning writers should expect a dip in the rate come September. Response to the rates seems mixed. Some high-ranking authors with large fan bases are thrilled with their numbers, calling KU2 a huge success. Other authors are disappointed and looking to pull some or all their titles as soon as they can.
Places KU2 need improvements:
One of the big complaints I’ve been seeing is in the reporting. Authors want to know how many books were borrowed and not just how many total pages of each book were read. Currently 15 books borrowed and each read half way through looks the same as 7 of the same book borrowed and read cover to cover. Revamping the reporting would make it possible for writers to understand their reader demographics better. They might even be able to use that information to write more successful books.
The current hope is KU2 help drive up the highest quality indie books, while also diving out the lowest quality. Will it work, who knows. I think it’s still too early to say, there just isn’t enough information at this point.
I’m interested in hearing about other author’s experiences. How did you all fair in the latest reports?