Why Does Amazon Pay Only an 18% Royalty for Some eBook Sales?
Earlier this week I set out to answer the question above, but as of this morning I’ve realized that I cannot. Neither KDP Support nor Kindle PR have been able to tell me anything other than the boilerplate answers posted online, and after going back and forth on this issue I’ve come to the conclusion that they simply don’t have the information.
So today I am passing the question on to my readers – and in particular, the many authors, publishers, and ebook buyers who are reading this blog. I figure if enough of you ask Amazon about this issue then they will eventually explain.
A few days ago i posted on one author’s rant about the delivery fees Amazon charged on his ebooks. I didn’t think much of his complaints at the time due to the fact that Amazon is quite open about those fees. Also, it turns out that his ebook was poorly made. After cleaning up the text and some basic image optimization the size of the ebook dropped from 18MB to 2MB.
But as much as I disagreed with that author on the issue of the delivery fees, he did stumble upon a question which had gone unanswered for quite some time now.
For as long as Amazon has been selling ebooks internationally they’ve also been quietly padding the prices in certain countries. This isn’t something you can see in the KDP support pages, and it’s not something you can see in the listing pages for the Kindle Store (unless you look for it deliberately). But they are being tacked on, and Amazon still hasn’t explained the charges adequately.
For example, check out the price of this Kindle ebook: The life and death of Benjamin Brash. It’s listed for $2.99 in the Kindle Store, by the author, who set the same price worldwide. Depending on where you happen to be buying it from it might cost you up to $5.74 (info via eBookFrinedly and Twitter):
The reason I’m highlighting this ebook in particular is because the author is selling it for 2.99, and the price the author sees in her home country of Norway is $5.74. She wants to know why Amazon claims it costs so much more it operate in Norway than in the rest of Europe, and so do I.
Here’s the thing about those prices. In the case of the ebook above, the author makes just over a buck from a sale to Norway (because Amazon reportedly pays 35%). But once you factor in the fees, the author actually makes around 18%, not the 35% that Amazon lists the KDP contract.
I followed up on this issue, and right before Amazon started ignoring my emails I received this boilerplate response from Kindle PR:
Pricing of titles from the Kindle Store varies by country or region due to differences in digital list prices, local market segment prices, and tax rates. When browsing in the Kindle Store, customers can sign in to see accurate pricing and availability for their home country or region.
While that might mollify some, it falls apart when you look at the facts of the situation. You see, this same ebook sells for $5.74 in Poland. Poland is a member of the EU, so you’d think that it would cost the same to sell an ebook there as it would to sell it in Germany or Italy, where this title lists for $3.33.
But for some reason Amazon pads the prices of ebooks when they’re sold to Poland, Norway and other countries. Don’t you want to know why?
I do, but I have been stymied in this. So I am going to pass the question on to my readers.
Folks, this should be a burning question for everyone who is selling via the Kindle Store. Amazon padding the ebook price costs you both readers and money. It is a situation which desperately needs to be explained or resolved.
Don’t you think authors and publishers deserve a better explanation of why they’re not getting the full payment they deserve?
If so, go ask Amazon.