KDP Select Payment Continues to Hover Below $1.40

kindle unlimitedAmazon revealed in the KDP monthly newsletter yesterday that the KDP Select payment was still disappointingly low. With the payment per loan still only $1.39, authors are wondering whether KDP Select in particular, and Amazon's subscription ebook service in general, are such a great idea.

KDP Select has been a good revenue source for indie authors since it launched with the Kindle Owner's Lending Library 3 years ago, but that came to an abrupt end in July. Following the launch of Kindle Unlimited, the payout from KDP Select declined by 25%, and it continued to decline ever since.

The payment hit a new low in October, dipping to $1.33, and according to the latest KDP newsletter it increased slightly in November, to $1.39. Since Amazon is paying out of a pool of money worth $3,000,000 (plus an extra $3.5 million), that places the number of loans at  around 4,676,259.

Correction: I missed the bonus Amazon tacked on for November, but a reader set me straight. Thanks Daniel!

Here's a complete history of the average monthly payment for KDP Select, courtesy of Publishing 3.0:

koll2014[2]

That's actually fewer around 470 thousand more loans than in October, which also payed from a $3 million pool (plus an extra $2.5 million), but the small increase in the payout is no reason to cheer. Many authors, including ones with ebooks both in and out of KDP Select, have been reporting that their revenues have declined since Kindle Unlimited launched (although it is possible that there is another cause).

Authors have been discussing the issue of declining revenue for the past couple weeks, and (assuming KU is the cause) it would seem that an ebook subscription service is beneficial to authors so long as it is of limited value to readers.

Kindle Owner's Lending Library, for example, was great because each Prime member could only borrow a single ebook each month. Kindle Unlimited, on the other hand, lets subscribers read as much as they want for $10 a month. This is of great value to readers but would appear to be of less value to indie authors as revenues decline.

Or is it? There are also some indie authors who are seeing great success with KDP Select in the months. I have read reports that short story authors are enjoying increased revenues following the KU launch, although I haven't found a first hand account.

Perhaps KU will cause a fragmentation of the market, with shorter works loaned under a subscription plan and longer works sold at retail, but at this point it is too early to say for sure.

About Nate Hoffelder (11598 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

24 Comments on KDP Select Payment Continues to Hover Below $1.40

  1. The numbers for November are wrong. The KU fund for November is $6.5 million. The KU fund for October was $6 million. The funds started at $3 million but more was added later. KU continues to be a big money maker for many authors. KDP was on its way down long before KU appeared–mostly due to the availability of free books, which started a long time ago.

    • Thanks for catching that.

      Are you sure that the fund for October was $6 million? Amazon said $5.5 million:
      https://kdp.amazon.com/community/ann.jspa?annID=630

      • You’re kidding. $505 million is half a billion dollars. I thought they added $3 milion to the base in October but maybe it was less. For November, they definitely added $3.5 million, announced yesterday.

        • The 505 was a typo on my part. See the link to the KDP forums.

          • Yes. $6.5 million for November and $5.5 million for October. Thanks for revising your numbers. So as Amazon says in their letters to authors (I am a KU author), KU continues to grow and there is no need for pessimism about KU or Amazon bookselling. To the contrary, there is much reason for optimism. Too many people are focused on tearing down Amazon. Really, all they have is superb customer service and magnificent software that makes online book buying and other retail buying easy. Anyone can do it if they have the smarts. But evidently so far no one has the smarts. Is that a good reason to tear down Amazon? A monopoly? Monopoly of what? Good customer service and magnificent software? It’s a joke and I’m out of here.

  2. It’s very clear that Amazon does not want me in Kindle Select any more. Pricing my book as Amazon recommended, my royalties per sale are more than four times what they pay me per giveaway. Even if cannibalism is quite limited it’s a bad tradeoff, particularly when repuatational factors are considered.

  3. Nate, are you getting a different KDP newsletter from us?

    So far as we can see Amazon NEVER reveals how much the payout will be.

    It always make a big fuss about how much the pot itself has been increased, and how the All-Stars cash payout will compensate a handful of authors for the royalty cut that is KU.

    But nowhere does Amazon mention what regular indies will be paid or have been paid.

    If this were trad pub treating authors in this desultory fashion with ever descending royalties that aren’t known in advance and were subject to the whim of the publisher the Amazon cheerleaders would be up in arms.

    But as unrest towards KU grows among the regular indie movement who are paying the price, it seems the only thing we can expect from our indie spokesfolk is more posts about Author Solution and Authors United.

    • Amazon used to reveal the payout, but you’re right in that they stopped. I actually got that figure from a couple different sources, including the one I credited.

      • The KU payout for the previous month is explicit in the royalty reports for that month, the reports appearing on the 15th. So, for example, the KU payout for November of $1.39 per borrow was explicit in the November royalty report that came out December 15th. The KU payout for the following month cannot be known ahead of time simply because the borrows are not know yet. Why is there so much confusion here? One gets the feeling that some people are desperately searching for ways to criticize Amazon. It’s crazy.

        • I figured it was in the royalty report, yes. But at one point it was also in the KDP newsletter.

        • No confusion at all.

          Indies have to guess what they might be paid out because the borrows are unknown. Other publishers have a fixed sum they know in advance despite the fact that their borrow numbers are also unknown.

          And it’s not just the future payments. Show us where on the Amazon public site the past KU payouts are listed? All-Star payouts to compensate the big hitters for their losses are shouted out and on site. Past KU payouts are not, so observers have to rely on the likes of Nate to understand that Amazon increasing the pot each month means sweet FA in terms of what the payout will be.

          Curiously neither Scribd nor Oyster, etc, have any problem treating all authors fairly.

          • All the KU past payouts are explicit in the royalty reports.

          • >>>>And it’s not just the future payments. Show us where on the Amazon public site the past KU payouts are listed? All-Star payouts to compensate the big hitters for their losses are shouted out and on site. Past KU payouts are not, so observers have to rely on the likes of Nate to understand that Amazon increasing the pot each month means sweet FA in terms of what the payout will be.>>>>

            As a KU author, I could not care less about what “observers” think. We have too many self-appointed critics about everything and no good reason to care about what they say.

    • Indie “spokesfolk” have questioned whether KU would be a good thing or a bad thing from the beginning. Who are you hearing all the unrest about KU from? Indie writers, who are vocal about everything.

      What Amazon is doing with KU, good or bad, doesn’t compare to the predatory tactics of Author’s Solution to totally rip off writers. Selling money from writers is quite a bit worse than not paying them as much as they like.

      As for Author’s United, my general opinion is they did more damage than good to their own cause. But, more to this particular point, they have been much more in lockstep, illogically so in many cases, trying to protect big publishers. They were constantly trying to hit the same talking points and ignoring any facts that didn’t support their arguments.

      The self-publishing movement, on the other hand, spends a lot of time arguing about different approaches, what works, what doesn’t and sharing facts. That’s exactly why we have been hearing a lot of complaints about KU (and some small praise) from the moment it launched, even from Amazon fans.

      It is perfectly logical for people who love the service that Amazon provides to self-publishers to push for it to get better. We see that all the time.

  4. I unpublished 12 of my books from Smashwords last week and moved them to Select. I have 50+ books, however, so this is no big deal.

    They were underperforming, had been for months, and I should have made the move sooner.

    $1.39 sounds a lot better to me than $0.

    I’m of the opinion that the authors doing the most complaining about this are those with a limited number of products to push. Who’s fault is that? And I do wish you luck with those complaints as 2015 gets underway – many of us will skip that and take action instead.

  5. I was upset over the $1.39 payout from KU. I even repeated to my wife what I’d said on several forums about pulling out of KU. Then she smiled and said, “I’ll bet Janet Evanovich would love to get $1.39 every time someone borrows one of her books at the library.”

  6. “What’s there to say about KU that wasn’t said about KOLL?”

    KOLL was available only to Prime members and allowed them only one download per month, for which the author got paid approx. $2.30.

    Now it’s unlimited downloads for KU subscribers and authors are getting paid less than $1.40.

    Furthermore titles for KOLL borrows were not given extra-visibility on site to shift readers away from buying full-priced titles. Now the entire Kindle site is geared to driving traffic to KU where Amazon pays out substantially less to most authors than the standard royalty rates we all signed up for.

    KU is a world apart from KOLL.

    • “KOLL was available only to Prime members and allowed them only one download per month, for which the author got paid approx. $2.30. Now it’s unlimited downloads for KU subscribers and authors are getting paid less than $1.40.”

      I already noted the difference with the loans, and you’re forgetting that there were at least 3 occasions in the KOLL era where the payout dipped under $2.00. Amazon responded by boosting the fund, so it was not unreasonable to expect Amazon would do the same once KU launched. (Unfortunately, they haven’t boosted the fund enough, and now it’s clear they’re not going to.)

      And as for the visibility, that was remarked upon when KU launched.

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