I contacted Amazon via e-mail about the new KU/KOLL pricing structures going into effect on 7/1/2015 to get answers to the questions I’d brought up in my first blog post on the matter.
Also, keep reading after the jump to see the news about Smashwords and their new “metadata-only” pre-order system. I think this will be a game-changer and might actually force Amazon to change how they handle pre-orders.
After trading a couple of emails with Amazon, I was enabled to actually get a call from them and just got off the phone with a representative a couple of minutes ago.
The TL;DR of the entire exchange with Amazon:
- You will get paid for all pages read the first time they’re read (not just the first time the book is opened). Even if someone opens another book/s in the meanwhile, and according to the rep on the phone, for an infinite time, regardless of how long it takes.
- Even if you put your device into airplane mode, read the book, and delete it before you take it out of airplane mode, the information will still be sent to Amazon. (That’s kind of scary, yo, when you think about it a little harder.)
- Even if a book is read on multiple devices (like you switch from phone app from Kindle or table app) the first time a particular page is read will still count.
- The reports structure will be changing to reflect units downloaded versus pages-read payments.
Those were the biggies I had. So here are the emails I traded with them. Keep in mind, you might think I’m being nitpicky, but I’m married to someone who used to practice law and worked for a county government, and I’m used to parsing publishing contracts. I needed to actually have Amazon clearly admit, one way or another, specifically what they meant.
—- Original message: —-
(June 16, 2015)
Subject: New KU pricing structure
I have concerns about the new KU pricing structure, especially this line:
“Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it.”
Does that mean that for example, if the FIRST time someone reads a book they ONLY read the first 10 pages, and then click open a new book, then go back LATER and finish the book, that the author will ONLY get paid for those 10 pages since they were part of the first read? Or will ALL pages eventually read be calculated? How can we possibly correlate this to “units sold” in terms of reporting if it’s a per-page report and not a per-unit-sold report?
Also, what if someone downloads a book, puts their device in airplane mode, reads the entire book, then deletes the book from the device before they bring it back online. Will the full read still be reported when the Kindle is brought online again?
Also, how will reporting be handled if during a “first read” someone switches devices (from phone to tablet/Kindle, for example). What if they don’t have the synchronize function on? How will it be calculated then?
I do understand your concerns regarding the new Pricing structure but please know we’re making this switch in response to great feedback we’ve received from authors who have asked us to better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read.
All pages that are read will be calculated with a new tool that has been developed and embedded into the Kindle and Kindle Reading app.
We calculate pages read based on the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), not the percentage of pages read. The percentage you see on your device won’t necessarily correlate to KENPC, since we calculate KENPC based on standard settings (e.g. font, line height, line spacing, etc.) to identify pages in a way that works across genres and devices.
Because we determine KENPC based on standardized settings and not percentage, you’ll be paid for each page an individual KU or KOLL customer reads of your book for the first time.
For more information on KENPC, visit our Help page:
We developed Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) to better align payout with the length of your book and how much customers read of it. This standardized approach allows us to identify pages in a way that works across genres and devices.
With the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page an individual customer reads of your book, the first time they read it.
Here are some examples of how it would work if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:
• The author of a 100 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
• The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
• The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
Since we’re distributing earnings based on reading activity, individual author results may vary.
Even a device is put into airplane mode and read, as soon as the data is turned on or the WIFI is connected to, our system will automatically get updated.
Synchronization only applies to certain features, such as book marks, notes and highlights, with the new tool we will be able to track exactly how much has been read and calculate the royalties accordingly.
I hope I was able to provide clarity on this issue for you.
Kindle Direct Publishing
My reply to that:
“With the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page an individual customer reads of your book, the first time they read it.”
Does that mean ALL pages read WILL be paid, even if someone clicks away from the book and opens a different one? I understand the intent is that you won’t be paid multiple times for multiple reads of a page. I get that.
But the wording you use is NOT clear. If someone’s “first read” of a book occurs in stages, with people opening other books in the meanwhile, will someone STILL get paid for additional pages? And how will the payments be made?
Thank you for writing in to us today. It will be my pleasure to assist you with your inquiry.
Yes, your understanding is correct. With the new payment method, you’’ll be paid for each page an individual customer reads of your book, the first time they read it.
This also means all pages read will be paid, even if someone clicks away from the book and opens a different one.
Yes, your understanding is correct. If someone’s “first read” of a book occurs in stages, with people opening other books in the meanwhile, you’ll still get paid for additional pages. These payments will be paid along with the normal royalties once the 60 days time period is met.
For your reference, we pay royalties for each marketplace approximately sixty (60) days following the end of the calendar month in which your royalties meet the payment threshold. Royalties accrue on your account until the total amount in each marketplace has reached the minimum threshold.
Further, I would like to have this issue discussed over phone. Due to the unique nature of your inquiry, I’ve temporarily enabled your account for phone contact until June 24, 2015. Our phone support is available from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, Monday through Friday. To request a phone call from us, visit the Contact Us section of KDP Help:
1) Choose your issue under “How can we help?” by selecting an appropriate topic.
2) You’ll then see two options under the section “How would you like to contact us?”
3) Under “Phone,” click “Call us.”
4) Under “Talk with KDP Customer Service,” enter your contact number and country.
5) Choose “Call Me” or “Call Me in 5 Minutes.”
Please make sure you have your account information ready when we call you.
Thanks for your understanding and cooperation. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.
Kindle Direct Publishing
And so I called them today. (Haven’t had time to do that until this morning.) And it was on the phone that they finished explaining things about the multiple devices, the reporting structure changes, etc.
Now the only thing for authors to see is how this is going to effect their bottom line. People who’ve set up a lot of short serial-type books might see a hit to their pockets and find it advantageous to start bundling their shorter works together.
I’m sure once the new payment structure kicks in there will be people scrambling to figure out how to game the system. There always are.
Changes to Smashwords Pre-Orders
Smashwords announced yesterday that they’re changing how they handle pre-orders. Instead of forcing an author to upload a content file upon creation of the book in their system, you can now create the book and set it up for pre-order without the actual book file, meaning you can go down to the wire on edits and changing things.
A problem I hear a lot of authors complain about is Amazon’s pre-order system, how easy it is to get the WRONG file version uploaded and then not be able to change it, but they require you to upload a content file when you create the book, and there’s a deadline to meet for changes.
Why is this a big deal? Because with pre-orders, it sort of bulks up your sales numbers, and on the release day they all hit at once, making it look like one massive sales boom and pushing your book higher up the algorithm charts at various retailers.
I’m hoping that Smashwords doing this prods Amazon to change how they do things and revamp their pre-order system as well.
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