S3, E69: The Sky Is Falling! Or Not…


Amazon announced a change in how they handle payouts for books borrowed Kindle Unlimited (KU)/Kindle Owner Lending Library (KOLL) and the main stream media went crazy…crazy spreading misinformation for the win!  Let’s look at what’s really going on and why this could be a good thing before poking fun at the bad reporting.

News & Notes:

  • Back from hiatus!
  • Mosquitoes, hot, humid, eww!!
  • Read a bunch and finished FF XIII Lightning Returns, and upgraded to Office 2013
  • Aisuru news
    • Aisuru now has a book trailer! It’s available on my YouTube channel, or you can just watch it from Aisuru’s page
    • Aisuru will be on sale July 6th-10th for only $1.99 and doing my first real promotion; must say thanks for those who answered my call for reviews to help me quality for some advert places 🙂
    • Draft2Digital now supports Oyster, so Aisuru is now available that way as well 🙂 It may be leaving Scribd though due to purge of romance titles
  • Quick run down of new blog posts and introduced my first officially scheduled blog feature: Manga Mondays

Main Topic:

Amazon announced that it was changing how they paid out royalties for books that have been borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library

  • Old way – authorswere paid from a monthly pool based onnumber of “borrows” our of the total number of borrows but only if the reader read at least 10%
    • This led to some people gaming the system with short works that were counted as “read” after just a page or two while longer novel length works had to actually hold a reader’s attention long enough to get through 30-40 pages; obviously if you wrote good stuff, you’d hit that point, but it also meant the shorter works would end up with more “reads” and therefore a bigger share of the pie
  • New way – authors will be a from a monthly pool based on number of pages read out of the total number of pages read that month
    • Addresses the issue of short works getting paid even if they sucked
    • More fairly compensates authors of longer works a larger amount and incentivizes writers to release more quality novella and novel length works

Misinformation, all with fear mongering headlines

  • David Gaughran traced the first bad article to one from The Atlantic
    • This thing contains so much BS I have to wonder if the writer even really knows how Kindle publishing works at all??
    • Wrongly says early in the article “to pay the authors who publish through Amazon directly, the company sets aside a pool of cash each month—this month it is $3 million” – first off, the pool is only for lends from the Kindle lending library and Kindle Unlimited, and second that pool last month was $13 million, not $3
    • Claims Amazon paid per borrow – only partially right (and he apparently is published this way! And earned $1.23 for the borrows on his extremely short works – inadvertently highlighting the issues with the old way)
    • Finally notes that the pool is just for lends approximately 4 pages down (and that’s on my 23” monitor) and quickly follows with an attempt to divide up the traditional and self-published authors
    • Favorite quote: “So much for the old publishing-industry cliche that it doesn’t matter how many people read your book, only how many buy it.” – this same article writer who claims to be published through KDP and who has their book in the lending library – meaning they already weren’t getting paid for how many buy it – only how many read enough of it
    • I think it’s also telling that this article writer notes that his “My book about cheating on the SAT took me only about two months to research, write, and edit.” And noting someone dared complained about his charging even 99 cents for it (BTW, it’s all of 22 pages long…and per reviews not only short but also full of errors)
    • Second favorite quote: “A system with per-page payouts is a system that rewards cliffhangers and mysteries across all genres…” – you know, versus oh, a system that rewards writing books people actually want to read?
  • The Verge posted Amazon for “every page you read instead of every book you download”
    • It starts out with a completely misleading opening: “Amazon is introducing a new system that completely upends the way authors and publishers make money from their books. Starting next month, the company will pay authors based on the number of pages people read from their books — not the number of copies sold.”
    • Before noting that it’s actually just for the lending library (with what I suspect was intended to be ominous “for now” tacked on)
    • Again misstated how the lending pool works currently: “Both the Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited divide a monthly pool of cash ($10.8 million last month) to KDP Select authors. The difference now is that the money will be parsed out based on how many pages people actually read of an author’s book, not how many times it is downloaded or “borrowed.””
  • The Telegraph may have been the worse yet
    • Even shorter headline: “Amazon to pay Kindle authors only for pages read”
    • And again leads with total bull “If you are an author whose book fails to grip in the opening chapter, it could prove costly.
    • Amazon is to begin paying royalties to writers based on the number of pages read by Kindle users, rather than the number of books downloaded. If a reader abandons the book a quarter of the way in, the author will get only a quarter of the money they would have earned if the reader stuck it out to the end.”
    • Three paragraphs later it finally clarifies it only applies to KDP Select, but doesn’t bother to clarify that it only affects the lends.
    • The quotes are kind of hilarious, including one from an author they interviewed who said “the ‘eerie’ aspect of the story was Amazon keeping tabs on exactly what – and how – we are reading.” – um, HTF do you think the whole syncing where you stopped across all Kindle versions works? Or the estimated time to finish and percent read?

Better sources mentioned during the show: