And the misconceptions continue

coverI knew last month when Amazon announced the changes to the payment schedule for the KU/KOLL programs that there would be the immediate knee jerk reaction we see so often where Bezos and company are concerned. The haters would come out of the woodwork, scream about how Amazon was out to screw everyone and then those who wouldn’t take time to actually research the situation would climb onboard the “I hate Amazon” bandwagon. Not only was I right but it didn’t take long for it to happen. One of the latest comes from The Guardian, that bastion of something and I’m not sure what. All I know for certain is that it doesn’t have the best track record for doing complete research or being anything but biased in its reporting.

In the article, the Guardian starts out by misrepresenting when authors were paid under the previous rules. “Writers who make their works available through Amazon’s Kindle Owners Lending Library, and a similar service called Kindle Unlimited, will no longer be paid per copy downloaded following a move announced last week.” Now, the problem with that statement is that it does misrepresent what the rule was prior to the first of this month. We were not paid per download. We were paid once someone read at least 10% of a downloaded title. It’s a minor quibble but it simply sets the tone for the rest of the article.

My next issue is their use of page count to determine how much an author would receive under the KU/KOLL program. They don’t appear to take into account that the “page count” we are being paid for is not the physical number of pages but the “normalized” number. To give you an example of what difference this makes, take my own Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1). The physical version is approximately 289 pages, according to Amazon. Yet, when I check for the normalized number of pages, it weighs in at a whopping 671 pages. That is a big difference when it comes to how much I would receive and it puts the lie to the Guardian’s allegation that a 200 page novel would receive less in royalties under the new program than it did under the old. That does, of course, assume the author of the article was not talking about the normalized page count (which I doubt because 2oo normalized pages does not a novel make).

Are there problems with the program?

Of course there are. No program is perfect. Just off the top of my head, I can think of several things I would like to see done differently. I would still like to see how many times a book is downloaded under the KU/KOLL program so I could then figure out if they are reading all the way through the book or stopping somewhere along the way. I would also like to know if someone reads my book a second time — and I would like to be paid for it.

As for those authors the editor said were leaving the field because of the new program, I’m not sure I buy it. You don’t jump ship over something that hasn’t happened yet. So, either they were some of those authors who were gaming the system and haven’t figured out how to do it under the new one or they bought into the panic that is being fanned by the Amazon haters. At a time when Scribd, iirc, is dropping a large number of its romance titles because its subscription service was badly conceived, jumping out of Amazon could be viewed as self-defeating.

The bottom line is this: quit listening to how many page views other authors have so far. Quit worrying about how much less you are going to make. No one knows what the immediate, much less the long term, impact of the changes will be. Give the program a month or so to shake out and track your page views and royalties. Then compare with your historical data under the previous rules. Then you can make an informed decision. Don’t jump ship just because some folks are panicking.

Unless, as my mother used to say, you’d jump off the cliff just because all the other folks are doing so.


  1. I wrote them, and asked:
    “When I review books obtained under the KU program, my reviews don’t show up as a verified purchase. I now understand these reviews are no longer weighted to benefit the book reviewed. I don’t like that. I PAY for the privilege of borrowing these books. ”

    And they said:
    “Hello Pat,
    Further to your e-mail, in order for the “Amazon Verified Purchase” option to appear, you will need to have purchased the item from
    Reading books via the Kindle Unlimited Membership does not qualify as a purchase of the book.
    Lastly, if a review is not marked Amazon Verified Purchase, it doesn’t mean that you do not have experience with the product -– just that we couldn’t verify that it had been purchased at Amazon.
    We look forward to seeing you again soon.”

    I might have done a better job of asking if the reviews were weighted in favor of verified purchases. My guess is that they haven’t had enough experience with what they are doing to know how to answer the question.

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