Amazon’s recent letter to writers who publish through its Kindle Select program told them that the formula was changing because of their concern “that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers.” It’s an interesting development, but one can’t help wondering what the real reasons for such a drastic change are.
At present, Amazon distribute a pot of money to those authors who have submitted their books to its Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library irrespective of genre or page count, but in this new scheme authors will be paid for each page that remains on the screen long enough to be read in full the first time a customer reads the book. At first glance what this new system seems to do is reward authors who write page-turners; books that can keep the reader hooked. This makes book length a critical factor for authors looking to leverage the power of Kindle, but with one well aimed boot Amazon has potentially decimated an income stream for many children’s book authors and short story writers. Whereas up to now a children’s picture book with 36 pages would receive the same pay out per book as door stop novel the rewards going forward are going to be miniscule by comparison.
Considering how Amazon has been promoting its Kindle Kids Book Creator we can’t help thinking Amazon have just scored a home goal, not to mention given the finger to many children’s authors who have supported their program. Of course there are always two sides to every story and as is often the case perhaps we have to dig deeper for the truth. One thing Amazon have never been forthcoming about is the number of books read versus the books downloaded through its Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library platforms. When you pay up front, readers tend to be less arbitrary about the books they download and as is the case with free kindle downloads there are a significant proportion of books downloaded that are never read. When you look at it from this perspective Amazon is actually being very clever, but a good book is a good book irrespective of length and penalising authors on page count seems highly unfair and a sure fire way of alienating a significant proportion of authors who have derived an income from the existing system of remuneration.
As always we like to play devil’s advocate and stimulate conversation on topics of interest, so please share your thoughts and don’t forget to nominate a book for us to consider for a spotlight review.