Kindle Unlimited Switches to Pay Per Page


Cue surprised reaction.

I’ve been arguing for a while that Kindle Unlimited is a bad idea for writers. Instead of taking a commission on book sales (don’t bother calling it a “royalty”, because it isn’t), they set up a fund and divvy it up among the authors.

That fund has been getting smaller. And that makes sense, since Amazon has long been in the business of squeezing other people’s margins. For authors who have been paying 30% or 65% commissions, it’s difficult to work out why they would agree to bigger cuts. Amazon’s idea of creating a subscription library that paid a share only if the reader read 10% of the book.

Naturally, authors began to game that system right away. Why dump a 400-page novel into the KU marketplace when you could drop in, say, 50 eight-page novels? If a reader merely opened to page one, that was enough to reach the 10% threshold and trigger payment.

That was clearly not a situation that was going to last (although it lasted much longer than I expected). Now Amazon has switched to a “pay per page” system. Instead of dividing their (arbitrarily-designed) kitty among partially-read books, they’re going to distribute it according to the number of pages people have read.

That improves a terrible program somewhat, but I still wouldn’t put my work in it.