July 1 was a nightmare for a number of self-published authors. At a time when e-readers are ruling the book industry, many have been concerned about how they will receive payment for their written, excuse me, digital word. Enter Amazon, who believes it has come up with the solution for this “problem” with a new payment system for those indie authors who opt-in to Kindle Direct Publishing Select, as well as books that are rented through Kindle Unlimited or the Lending Library.
Instead of being paid once a reader reaches 10 percent of the book, which was deemed “unfair” because the longer the book, the more pages that need to be read to meet that quota, these authors will now be paid for each page read. Gasp! Now authors with longer books will make out better than those who write books with less pages. What Amazon is deciding to be “fair” and “unfair” is creating new problems.
So here at BookTrib we’re asking, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” Our initial reaction was shock and horror: “How could they do such a thing?” Then there was a moment of, “Does Amazon even care about authors?” when we realized that those with fewer pages will be paid less than those who write longer books. And um, Amazon, that just seems — unfair.
But Amazon stands behind the change, releasing the following comment:
“We’re making this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors who asked us to better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read. Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it.”
So how exactly does the math break down for your favorite indie authors? The bottom line, according to The Guardian, is:
“[Amazon] customers of its two services read nearly 1.9 billion pages in June, while it expected to pay at least $11m a month for June, July and August. That means the payment per page read could be as low as $0.006, meaning that an author will have to write a 220-page book – and have every page read by every person downloading it – to make the same $1.30 they currently get from a book being downloaded.”
Let’s be honest, there are a number of books you’ve downloaded that just weren’t worth reading past 45 percent. It’s a harsh truth in self-publishing. The same attention to detail isn’t always there, like when a book publisher combs over a book multiple times before printing. Sometimes, the grammar and structure are so atrocious that by page 75, you still have no idea what the story is about. We’ve all been there and sadly have had to say, “there’s no way this is going to get any better.” So when it comes to those books (and authors) in particular, I say, this is good thing. But the numbers mentioned above are upsetting and it seems that grouping all of these authors together is inevitably going to rattle cages and anger writers.
Only time will tell if this will help or hurt the industry, but once again Amazon is leaving yet another footprint in the digital publishing world.