Amazon has made another periodic change to the payment terms for Kindle Unlimited in the name of fraud prevention, but it’s not clear what they changed.
When Kindle Unlimited launched in 2014, Amazon paid out each time a reader finished a certain percentage of a title. Scammers soon learned how to game the system by releasing very short works, thus getting paid after only a few pages were read.
Amazon responded by switching to paying authors for the number of pages read. They announced the Kindle Equivalent Normalized Page Count (KENPC) and launched it in July 2015.
By the end of 2015, scammers had figured out how to game that as well: they made their scam books incredibly long and then tricked readers into clicking to the back of the book.
This took advantage of a design in the Kindle software; Amazon can track a location in an ebook, but not what was actually read.
Amazon’s next move in this game of cat and mouse was to crack down on Kindle ebooks with links leading to the back. Amazon also developed a new way to measure KENPC (2.0), and in February 2016 Amazon imposed a cap of only paying for up to 3,000 pages in an ebook in Kindle Unlimited.
As you may know from reading David Gaughran, that only slowed down the scammers, it did not stop them. Instead, they got creative in coming up with ways to trick readers into clicking to the end of an ebook.
All they have told us is that:
To determine a book’s page count in a way that works across genres and devices, we developed the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC). KENPC is calculated using standard formatting settings (font, line height, line spacing, etc.). We use KENPC to measure the number of pages customers read in your book, starting with the Start Reading Location (SRL) to the end of your book. Amazon typically sets SRL at chapter 1 so readers can start reading the core content of your book as soon as they open it. Non-text elements within books including images, charts and graphs will count toward a book’s KENPC.
We released KENPC v3.0 to improve the way we measure how many pages of each book Kindle Unlimited and KOLL customers read. We’re constantly working to improve our programs and increase fairness of how we allocate the KDP Select Global Fund. These changes continue to improve the program and reward authors whose books are being borrowed and read the most by customers.
The most we can say at this time is that this is _probably_ an anti-fraud measure, but that is just a guess on my part.
I have my ear to the ground, and will report again if I find anything new.
Update: Over at KBoards someone has posted a version of the KENPC 3.0 announcement that mentions a fix for the bloated ebook scams:
We released KENPC v3.0 to improve the way we measure how many pages of each book Kindle Unlimited and KOLL customers read. This update makes a number of improvements, including improving our ability to measure pages read for such cases as non-linear reading. We’re constantly working to improve our programs and increase fairness of how we allocate the KDP Select Global Fund.
That was removed before I saw the notice, so apparently it doesn’t quite work yet. But it is coming, which is great news.
image by plaisanter~