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Kindle Unlimited Funding Jumps in July 2016

27002841912_5081af6dd7_hAmazon announced on Monday that the funding pool for KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited rose slightly in July 2016, to $15.5 million. That represents an increase of $100k from June 2016, and a new peak for the funding pool.

Data collected by show that the per-page royalty payment dipped slightly in most markets as compared to June 2016.

Alas, the data is incomplete. There’s no way to tell what the rate was in, for example, Japan, where Kindle Unlimited launched earlier this month.


  • US: $0.0048 (USD)
  • Germany: €0.00333 (EUR)
  • France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands: €0.00478 (EUR)
  • Brazil: R$ 0.0111 (BRL)
  • Mexico: $0.80 (MXP)
  • UK, Australia, India, Japan, Canada: no data

P.S. Here’s a list of the monthly funding pools. It does not include the bonuses paid out each month.

  • May 2014: $1.2 million
  • June 2014: $1.2 million
  • July 2014: $2.5 million (Kindle Unlimited launches early in the month)
  • August 2014: $4.7 million
  • September 2014: $5 million
  • October 2014: $5.5 million
  • November 2014: $6.5 million
  • December 2014: $7.25 million
  • January 2015 – $8.5 million
  • February 2015: $8 million
  • March 2015: $9.3 million
  • April 2015: $9.8 million
  • May 2015: $10.8 million
  • June 2015: $11.3 million
  • July 2015: $11.5 million
  • August 2015: $11.8 million
  • September 2015: $12 million
  • October 2015: $12.4 million
  • November 2015: $12.7 million
  • December 2015: $13.5 million
  • January 2016: $15 million
  • February 2016: $14 million
  • March 2016: $14.9 million
  • April 2016: $14.9 million
  • May 2016: $15.3 million
  • June 2016: $15.4 million
  • July 2016: $15.5 million

image by FaruSantos

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author/reader August 16, 2016 um 12:04 pm

The increase in the global fund over time is probably related to an increase in the number of KU subscribers. But beyond that, Amazon controls the per page payout to authors, and the current rate is not enough to sustain writers of category fiction (westerns, mysteries, erotic romance, thrillers, etc.) in a writing career UNLESS they happen to publish one or more bestsellers that produce millions of pages read in KU per month. The consequence is a bad strategy for Amazon, since the consequence is that most accomplished professional authors of category fiction drift away from KU, because the number of possible best sellers is never more than a small fraction of the variety of titles that need to be available to readers. In short, Amazon has the resources to easily double the payout to KU authors to 1 cent per page read in KU. They might lose a little money in KU, but they would make it up in the quality of offers to subscribers and in sales to subscribers of other stuff on Amazon. What we have now is an apparent error in Amazon’s strategy. They are not always the geniuses of book retailing and KU is now evidence for that. It’s also a mistake to treat all KU titles the same. Can you imagine a supermarket paying ALL suppliers of various kinds of groceries, etc. according the WEIGHT only of what they supply. It’s borderline crazy.

Mackay Bell August 16, 2016 um 3:19 pm

Difficult to see how this is a losing strategy for Amazon. It has no real completion in ebook subscriptions, so anyone really interested in that have to go with their service. More importantly, it’s the dominate ebook seller and the dominate on line print book seller.

Amazon may be making a decision that it doesn’t want to pay too much to Kindle Unlimited so it doesn’t cannibalize it’s profitable ebook download market.

Also, the idea that Amazon should somehow award "quality" of writing is borderline crazy. Whose to determine quality? It would be a nightmare for Amazon to even try and it would get criticized no matter what it did (Entertainment over art? Punishing/rewarding violence or sex?) Paying some writers more than others for special titles would also create antagonism. (Though Amazon quietly does that with bonuses and paying traditional publishers full price.)

Higher payments to KU, without a "quality" check, would be more likely to create more junk/scam books.

The current system seems to be a reasonable strategy. Writers who simply want their word to be read can make it available on KU. Very popular writers do well, but not so well they have to put all books in KU (which requires exclusivity). And many writers use KU for promotion of their non-KU titles.

I’m not saying the system can’t be improved and Amazon keeps tinkering with it, but I think it would be a mistake (for writers and reader and Amazon) if it went all in on subscriptions and abandoned it’s other revenue streams.

author/reader August 16, 2016 um 5:26 pm

I nowhere said Amazon should make "quality" determinations, which are either meaningless or impossible. My point is simply that the current payout to authors is too low to sustain a constant supply of professionally written category titles. Maybe Amazon is considering closing KU soon. That would explain the inertia to encourage professional authors. You say: "The current system seems to be a reasonable strategy. Writers who simply want their word to be read can make it available on KU… And many writers use KU for promotion of their non-KU titles." Which means KU is now not a serious platform for sustained income for authors of category titles. It can be but it isn’t now.

Fjtorres August 16, 2016 um 6:15 pm

The evidence (the ever growing numbers of available titles) says the payout is adequate and the ever-growing nunber of subscribers implied by the increasing pool size and pages read count says subscribers are satisfied by the "quality" of content they find.

More, nowhere has Amazon said that authors are expected to make a living off KU payouts. Rather, all Amazon ever says is that KU is supposed to be a discovery tool for readers and, hence, a promotional tool for authors. In both cases, the expected behavior is that readers will still buy books and authors will either keep some titles out of KU or rotate at least a subset of their catalog in and out over time.

I would take them at their word.
Indeed, the last Author Earnings report indicated that a sigificant part of the authors in KU are, in fact, rotating titles.

Finally, KU is purely optional.
Nobody puts a gun to anybody’s head to force KU participation and, as a matter of fact, KU works as a discovery/promotions tool precisely because all authors and publishers *don’t* participate. If KU included every book in the Kindle store it would offer no signifcant visibility boost to enrolled titles. And it would significantly cannibalize sales. Keeping payouts low allows Amazon to limit the size of KU to about a quarter of all titles for sale without risking the legal can of worms that would come from retail level gatekeeping because non-particpants self-select instead of being excluded.

It’s not a bug: it’s a feature.

author/reader August 16, 2016 um 8:39 pm

There’s no evidence for what the ever growing number of KU titles means. We don’t know the churn rate, how many authors drop out to be replaced by more author newcomers. The same is true for the apparent increase in subscribers–we don’t know the churn rate here either. How many subscribers drop out to be replaced by more sucked in by advertising? No evidence. Anyway, we will see what happens.

Fjtorres August 17, 2016 um 12:23 am

No evdence for growing number of subscribers?
Amazon grows the pool by $100K a month out of the goodness of their heart?
And why does the per-page payout decrease despite the ever-growing pool?
Pretty obvious that more pages are read every month, as reported. And any churn is going to come from free month readers which add no money to the pool so again, Amazon keeps growing the pool because…?

Lindsay Buroker August 16, 2016 um 4:25 pm

I actually think the earnings per page is pretty high. I’ve talked to authors who write longer novels (150K words) who make more from a borrow than they do from a sale (at $5).

Also, you can make a living without publishing a best selling book that gets millions of reads every month. Good grief, if you can do that regularly and have even a modest backlist, you’ll be making over 100K a month.

author/reader August 17, 2016 um 2:40 am

Amazon may keep growing the pool because as the pages read increases if they did not grow the pool the payout per KENP page would keep dropping and too many authors would leave KU. Are you a KU author? Do you keep in touch with the KDP authors forum? If you do you should know that many pro authors are dissatisfied and many popular authors have already left KU. It’s important to understant that the scheme used by a subscription service eventually shapes the content. Sure it
s free choice by authors–and that is precisely how the content is shaped.

Fjtorres August 17, 2016 um 9:00 am

Authors leave and others come in. Which, as I said, is what Amazon wants. The total number of titles available keeps growing despite the carping.
It doesn’t matter what some disgruntled "professional writers" might think or say. KU is not meant to be anybody’s sole revenue source.
Amazon makes plenty of money selling books. The subscriptions are not intended as a substitute for sales. They *are* intended as a promotional tool that pays, unlike permafree.
Once again: KU is working exactly as intended.
Amazon doesn’t need to do anything with it except kick out the scammers that keep popping up.
Just because somebody somewhere doesn’t like how something works doesn’t mean its broken. All it means is they should go elsewhere.

author/reader August 17, 2016 um 10:03 am

You talk like an Amazon executive with inside information about Amazon motives and revenues. Unless you are that, my point is that you have no evidence for your conclusions. Rhetoric is not evidence. Never was. Never will be. As I said, we will see what happens to KU.

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