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KDP Select’s New Royalty is Estimated to be Around Half a Cent Per Page

3800164539_4d0d471bf8_bJuly marks the start of the new payment terms for KDP Select. Where Amazon used to pay participating authors based on the number of times an ebook was loaned in Kindle Owner’s Lending Library or KDP Select, under the new terms Amazon will pay each author based on the number of pages that have been read by subscribers.

Amazon has defined a new standard for a page called the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC)*, and at the end of the month they’ll count the KENPC and divide it into the funding pool.

Amazon hasn’t announced the total funding for KDP Select for July, and we obviously don’t know how many pages will be read. So at this point the payment per page is a little hard to pin down, but one author has come up with an estimate based on what we know about current activity.

According to Morris Rosenthal’s back of the envelope calculation:

My first estimate for the Kindle Select royalty system that starts today is $0.0058, or 0.58 cents per page read. This is based on Amazon’s announcement that the global pool for July will be at least $11 million, and that last month, the number of pages read was almost 1.9 billion.

I think that his estimate is a little high (KU subscribers will read more pages) but I also think it is in the same neighborhood as the per KENPC payment for this month. That’s good for authors because they can now use that estimate to calculate how much they might get paid for each book.

An author can calculate the payment they’ll get for a book by finding the book’s KENPC and multiplying it by the estimated royalty payment. Amazon says you can see a book’s KENPC listed on the "Promote and Advertise" page in the author’s Bookshelf (they can also see the total pages read on their Sales Dashboard report).

Amazon is letting authors opt out of KDP Select if they disagree with the new payment terms, but that’s a tough decision to make when an author doesn’t know how much money they could be earning.

but now we know that if a reader finishes a book with a KENPC of 100 then the author will be paid around 58 cents.

That is considerably less than the $1.35 Amazon was paying for an ebook loaned during April 2015, but then again Amazon was paying that fee for each short story or novel read by a subscriber, no matter the length. That tended to reward shorter works over longer ones, but the new system removes the financial incentive to split a work into multiple units.

Instead authors will be rewarded for volume. That means that some could be tempted to write even more short stories and novellas so they can stuff Kindle Unlimited with their work, but I don’t know at this time whether that trick will be successful.

What do you think?

Is the half a cent per page worth it?

I would like to say that this is the better option than what Scribd did yesterday when they reduced their romance catalog from 30,000 titles to around 8,000 titles. But to be honest that argument smacks of Amazon fanboyism but it is still some truth to it.

P.S. Here’s Amazon’s explanation for the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC): "We calculate KENPC based on standard settings (e.g. font, line height, line spacing, etc.), and 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."

image by Asim Bijaraninan palmero

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C.E. Kilgore July 1, 2015 um 3:30 pm

This is half a penny less than my original estimate. Lovely.

They do seem to be fluffing the KENPC page count, though. The only book I have left in KU is a 24k word anthology I left there for testing this new rate out. It’s listed on Amazon as 80 print pages. It’s KENPC count is 142 pages. If the .005cent rate holds true, I stand to make 71cents each time someone reads it cover to cover. Not enough for me to keep it in the program.

Will Entrekin July 1, 2015 um 3:41 pm

I think it’s great. At .006 (rounding up .0058) per page, a 290-page novel, fully read, earns an author $1.74 or so.

We’re authors. Our job isn’t to sell books — it’s to keep readers reading the ones we’ve written through to the end. If you can’t do that, you might need to think about upping your author game.

William D. O’Neil July 1, 2015 um 4:53 pm

I write serious nonfiction and deliberately try to hold the reader’s interest to the end, so in a sense their formula is tailored to me. My most recent book, The Plan That Broke the World, is rated at 252 pp, but I believe that includes back matter that many people won’t read, so I guess that 225 "pages" is a likely total for someone who reads it through, yielding me about $1.25. While it’s not nearly the $5 I get from a sale, I can’t say that it truly seems unreasonable.

Having published both fiction and nonfiction I have to say that nonfiction is more work and in that sense might merit a higher payment. But in practice it’s never paid consistently better than fiction and it’s too late to worry about that.

fjtorres July 1, 2015 um 5:59 pm

At 580 microbucks a page, with pages defined as 170 words per page (24K / 142) a 70K word novel would bring in a bit over $2 per read. Which is actually fair and a bit more.
The pages are a bit on the smallish size but a small page size allows for more granular payout control so it makes sense.

I suspect that the page size might average a bit higher on a dense novel, possibly in the 200 word per page range. And I expect the payout to go down, closer to the 500 micro range.

However I think that if Amazon were to guarantee the 600 micro rate (or 3 micro a word) KU would get flooded with novels. And, as a side effect, indie novel prices would probably go up a buck or so. (A side effect to be on the lookout for.)

Jim Heskett July 1, 2015 um 6:10 pm

I have a 40 page short story collection in KU. I make 30c per sale. Before, I made $1.30 or whatever per borrow, which was high. I’d take the money, of course, but I knew I didn’t deserve as much as a read of a full-length book. But, if I understand the math, I’ll only make 20c per borrow now. That’s 2/3 the revenue from a sale. What’s my incentive for staying in KU?

fjtorres July 1, 2015 um 7:19 pm

Make it up in volume?
KDP is not intended as a substitute for sales.
(Everything Amazon says about it is about KU as a marketing tool.)
If you need it to be a one-for-one sales equivalent, you probably shoulder be in it.

Greg Strandberg July 2, 2015 um 12:37 am

Do you have any tips for how he can make up for that in volume?

fjtorres July 2, 2015 um 7:52 am

Use it as a vehicle to acquire "true fans" who will then buy your other titles: Treat it as a promotional item instead of as a cash cow. Get catchy covers and intriguing blurbs at a minimum.

Also, pay attention to what Amazon tells readers that KU is for.

Which means not putting everything in KU but instead putting in first novels in a series, "what came after" or "meanwhile" supporting shorts.

KU can be used many ways but nobody forces you to play there just as nobody forces you to use KDP or even to self publish. KU is not a store–Amazon already has one–and treating it as one is flatout wrong. What it is is a replacement for permafree; a promotional vehicle for authors and a no-risk sampling channel for readers.

Last night I saw a description of KU as a Groupon type service that distributes "coupons" for "free" reads. It’s an interesting concept.

Another analogy might be one of the paid promotional services like Bookbub: you pay a fee to get your title in front of a set of subscribing readers who then pay for your story. Your net is the difference between your new sales rate and what you paid for the promotional service.

That is exactly what KU does: it puts your title before its subscribers and, if they read it, it subtracts its service fee and pays you in proportion to the amount read. If they liked the story enough to do a full read, you get a full payout. If not, you at least know how far the average reader got with that title.

It’s a tool.
And optional.
Use it or not depending on your needs.

Greg Strandberg July 2, 2015 um 11:40 am

I’ve always found that vehicle to be quite slow when it comes to fans. Perhaps mine’s just not running right.

Puglover July 2, 2015 um 1:50 pm

I would be more open to this line of thinking if it weren’t for the exclusivity agreement.

DaveMich July 2, 2015 um 12:00 am

This isn’t an announced figure. It’s some guy’s spitball estimate. It could be right, it could also be wrong.

Nate Hoffelder July 2, 2015 um 6:21 am


Greg Strandberg July 2, 2015 um 12:36 am

People won’t read as much as you think. Readers skim, they skip, and they might jump chapters. Amazon will be tracking all of that like a hawk. I feel the mention of $0.71 is what many authors can expect even on those 290-page novels, to address the first two comments.

Yeah, longer books do not guarantee a higher payout. It makes it possible, unlike with shorter works, but don’t expect it.

Overall, authors have just experienced a cut in pay, and right before a big holiday. Bummer, not something to boast to relatives about here in America over hot dogs and explosions. That’s what it amounts, to, however – a cut in pay. The cream at the top will experience further increases in income while the vast majority will see drops in income.

William D. O’Neil July 2, 2015 um 1:13 am

Hmm. Just how do people skip pages in a Kindle? It seems to me that they page through until they get where they want, at least in fiction. And that counts as "reading" so far as Amazon can tell.

In nonfiction I suppose it’s possible to go to the TOC and find the chapter you want. If you do that in my book you’ll find that you don’t understand what you’re reading without reading what came earlier. In fact, that’s been pretty much true in my fiction. There isn’t a lot of slack or padding.

All in all it’s easier to skip around in paper.

Rob Siders July 2, 2015 um 8:55 am

I wouldn’t expect page flips to count. Newer model Kindles calculate reading speed and I’d be surprised if Amazon let that data sit idle.

R. Scot Johns July 2, 2015 um 1:59 am

Looking at my KDP dashboard today I see that the one title I have enrolled in Select has a KENPC of 581 pages, whereas the actual number of pages in the print edition is 282. Given therefore that the KENPC is roughly only half of one print page, the actual payout amount would be twice what you have estimated. In my case, given Morris' reasonable calculation, I should net something like $1.63 for a complete read. That’s not far off from what I’ve been averaging previously for borrows. At any rate, it’s nothing to cry and complain about. That said, when the monthly payout drops to $3 mil it won’t look so good.

Nate Hoffelder July 2, 2015 um 6:02 am

That said, when the monthly payout drops to $3 mil it won’t look so good.

Yeah, that’s misinformation stemming from The Atlantic’s bad journalism. That $3 million figure being passed around is the base that Amazon will add to. It is the preliminary, and not the final, funding level.

fjtorres July 2, 2015 um 7:53 am

A monthly floor, right?

Nate Hoffelder July 2, 2015 um 7:57 am


R. Scot Johns July 2, 2015 um 2:40 pm

Yes, but where is the floor? I’ve been in KDP since 2008, in and out of Select for just this reason, and I’ve seen it as low as $2 million. Of course, that was before subscription fees added to the pool, and Prime has grown as well, which is where most of the funds come from. It probably won’t ever get that low again, but it won’t always be at $11 million either.

Nate Hoffelder July 2, 2015 um 3:01 pm

The pool hasn’t been $3 million since before KU launched last year. I think it’s gone up every month for the past year as KU use grew.

I think Amazon has shown that they are keeping the payment above a minimum. That threshold will change slightly under the new system but I think it is pessimistic to assume that the threshold will go down. We have nothing to base that on either way.

Bill Smith July 2, 2015 um 7:18 am

Authors on Kboards were doing some math and the word count per KENPC "page" is all over the place —

Most authors seem to come up with, on average, about 180 words per page, but some authors are reporting their books as low as 135 words per page (good, lower words per page = more pages) and some are showing that Amazon calculated 300 words per page (meaning, they get paid slightly more than half what those 180 words per page authors are getting paid).

That is a pretty alarming variance for a "standard."

How do they arrive at these numbers? Chapter and page breaks? Photos and illustrations? Word count (obviously not). Character count? Monkeys throwing darts at a board?

No one knows yet.

So you have a couple of "secret sauce" ingredients you don’t know going in — the monthly pay per page and how many "pages" your book is going to be (since you can’t do something logical like base it on word count).

I know Amazon wants to keep its KENPC formula secret to keep out the scammers, but at the same time, the lack of communication makes this such a "pig in a poke" deal.

At this point, it boils down to:

Amazon: "Here’s your page count, here’s what you earned."
Author: "How did you get those numbers?"
Amazon: "Trade secret … trust us."

I know this could be interpreted as a cynical slam on Amazon and it is NOT meant to be. Amazon pays, pays well and frequently (monthly), pays on time. Amazon gets a lot of bashing, but the fact is they (in general and so far) treat authors well (certainly better than most trad publishers) and give customers a great deal … and, of course, Kindle Select is still optional.

But the number of seemingly random variables for authors is, I think, a little unnerving.

Felipe Adan Lerma July 2, 2015 um 7:53 am

I got this in yesterday’s email from Amazon:

"KDP authors can now see the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC V1.0) for each of their KDP Select titles on the 'Promote and Advertise' page in their Bookshelf ( Please keep in mind that, because it is based on settings specific to this program and intended to normalize the count across all KDP Select titles, KENPC may well vary from page counts listed on a book’s Amazon detail page or page counts for a print book."

fjtorres July 2, 2015 um 8:05 am

Amazon *told* us how they define a page: it is the number of pages that a book will render to on a standard virtualized device.
And yes, there will be variance because formatting counts.

Up front it is obvious that anthologies and Pattersonian novels will have lower word counts than titles of dense paragraphs and long sentences. White space and graphics will matter. But only in the main body.

(There’s a reason I ran *my* spitball estimate at 200 words per baseline page.)

So far, the early reports are falling along expected lines: short title authors complaining and long form authors nodding. They rebalanced the payout distribution system! Of course there will be winners and losers.

The fun starts when the numbers firm up.

Scribd Adjusts Subscription Ebook Model under Strain | Digital Book World July 2, 2015 um 8:13 am

[…] What’s a Page Worth on Amazon? (Ink, Bits & Pixels) For starters, it’s important to stress that at this stage, trying to guess is a mug’s game. Amazon has yet to say how much its reserving in the payment fund for KDP Select authors for July, and it’s hard to know how many pages customers will end up reading. But—bearing those considerable caveats in mind—one author works out a rough estimate of what some authors might expect to be paid per page, and comes up with around $0.0058. […]

Morning Links: Understanding Hugo Awards Snafu. Famous Typographical Optical Illusion – TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics July 2, 2015 um 8:24 am

[…] KDP Select’s New Royalty is Estimated to be Around Half a Cent Per Page (Ink, Bits, & Pixels) Amazon hasn’t announced the total funding for KDP Select for July, and we obviously don’t know how many pages will be read. So at this point the payment per page is a little hard to pin down, but one author has come up with an estimate based on what we know about current activity. […]

Travis Luedke July 2, 2015 um 9:19 am

Basically, what Amazon has done is eliminated the crappy reputation of KU, which everyone knew was loaded with serials and shorts. They created a standard that rewards the novelist who writes quality, engaging fiction.

The only problem is the price per page, which is really just a guess. Can novelists live with the price per page read system?

All the BS about KU being a promo tool is ridiculous. KU, in many genres, is the driving force of Indie fiction sales within the genre. KU has the single largest concentration of people who enjoy Indie fiction.

There are no Big 5 novels in KU. Its virtually 100% Indie with a little small press sprinkled in. Its subscriber base and readership is THE INDIE READER MARKET.

If you ignore the KU readership, you’re cutting yourself out of the largest pool of superfan bibliophiles who are willing to pick up an Indie novel from an author they’ve never heard of before.

As a publisher, you need to get your books in front of the readership that will snatch them up. For many genres, for Indie fiction, that readership is found within KU.

Indie publishers are forced to realign our publishing strategies to match this new paradigm, the price of a page read. Dropping out of KU is far more costly than adjusting to its new rules.

It would be so cool if we could just write good books and not worry about this crap. But, in the world of Indie pub, you must get guerrilla, down in the trenches of metadata and giveaways and paid promos and Facebook parties. You have to find the hidden advantages and exploit them, or disappear into obscurity in the long tail of Amazon and never be seen again.

KU is where the readers are, and Amazon knows it.

Mackay Bell July 3, 2015 um 2:30 am

Excellent analysis.

I think you’re right that KU is where the best crowd in the indy audience hangs out and writers who specifically write for it can thrive.

That being said, I think for some writers it can be a promo tool, particularly for first books in a series.

Or for other writers, like me, who are mostly focused on just getting our book out to the world, it’s a nice simple way to offer it perma-free to KU subscribers (who as you say are great indy fans), while also being able charge for a sale.

Rob Siders July 6, 2015 um 9:25 am

All the BS about KU being a promo tool is ridiculous. KU, in many genres, is the driving force of Indie fiction sales within the genre.

These two statements seem to be at odds with one another. What am I not understanding? Otherwise, I’m picking up what you’re laying down.

Gina July 2, 2015 um 5:06 pm

At least when I read a paperback, no one is peering over my shoulder to see how many pages I’ve read. Something a bit creepy about this, but hope it works out well for authors.

KDP Select’s New Royalty is Estimated to be Around Half a Cent Per Page July 2, 2015 um 5:14 pm

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Alora Dillon July 4, 2015 um 1:22 am

My simple take is that a lot of "professionally published" authors who are looking to break away from the slow and tedious grind of getting their work published through the traditional channels can now do so and get paid what they feel they are worth.

Then again, it could be an eye-opener to some.

If you purchase a book at a brick and mortar and don’t like it, normally you are not allowed to return it.

With Amazon, a reader has three days to request a refund for an ebook PURCHASE (not borrow)… which in my opinion, sucks.

I digress…

So basically, this new payout system per page can really reel in the high rolling author names like the Stephen Kings or J.K Rowlings of the publishing world. Normally, they write novels that are over 500 to 600 physical pages long… which, of course, equates to higher page counts in the KENPC… which gives them an advantage and a much higher payout than what a Traditional Publisher will offer. Not to mention, the time it takes to get a book published… 72 hours vs 12 months.

High profile authors can now write books on the side offering them to readers while they are waiting for their "contracted" works to go through. Once they realize they can make 100 times more than what they are getting paid by their "publisher," then the switch to full-time Indie Publishing won’t be so far off.

Just my opinion.

So, in essence… this new payout system is designed to get more "big named" authors on board with exclusive rights for at least 3 months… again, once a famous author realizes they can be making so much more money without the traditional publisher, the small name, short story writers will struggle to find a place on the food chain since the pages read number will increase exponentially thereby decreasing the value of each page read. But the big name writers won’t feel the pinch since they have the fans, the reader base and will command more downloads (borrows.)

Right now, I make a decent living writing exclusively for Amazon. The majority of my income came from the borrows rather than sales. That shows the power of the KDP Select, in my opinion.

If the payout is $.00578 per page read, then I will make about $3 per book cover to cover. Double what I made from the previous payout. However, with bigger names coming aboard, they can easily dominate the KDP program and push small name authors, such as myself, out of the running.

Guess I need to start writing better books! 🙂

Kate Wrath August 15, 2015 um 11:44 am

The prior-months report is out today and it looks like we’re getting .056 cents per page. For me, this is awesome. My novels are all around 100k words, and I was only getting the measly $1.35 for them, before– the same as some people were getting for itty bitty short stories. The playing field is now level, and I’m making an appropriate royalty. I couldn’t be happier with Amazon’s decision.

Kate Wrath August 15, 2015 um 2:23 pm

Sorry, I got the number wrong! It’s $0.0057791577669113 per page read for the month of July, to be exact.

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