back to article Amazon enrages authors as it switches to 'pay-per-page' model

Amazon is switching to a “pay-per-page” royalties model for self-published Kindle authors, a move likely to be welcomed by all readers with attention deficit disorder. From July 1 the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read, the company has said. It will affect self-published authors on the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    [redacted] Amazon

    if they do this.

    I have three kindle books on Amazon. Total revenue last year £21.99 or thereabouts.

    Ok so it is not life and death money to me but going to pay per page is just wrong.

    I read eBooks but most of the time my reader is offline and often for weeks at a time. So how will this work then? Send me a bill for every page I have read the next time I connect?

    This is just wrong. I'll be that Amazon up their charges with this model as well.

    1. graham_

      Re: [redacted] Amazon

      er.. they pay the author on how many pages are read, readers just pay whatever they pay for Kindle Unlimited

    2. Brenda McViking

      Re: [redacted] Amazon

      And yet....

      Why not? As a consumer, pay for what I use is the best option in my opinion. As a consumer, it probably doesn't affect me price wise - I'm likely to be paying the monthly subscription, but if authors have real page turners then I'd welcome them being compensated over and above those books which turn out to be rather dull. It's no different from websites and bloggers, they get paid by page views - turn out shoddy content and people don't come back. Keep it high quality and they do. Yes, you get the buzzfeed clickbait as a side effect, but people soon cotton on.

      Who is to say you wouldn't get more from "pay per page," anyway? I'm going to assume they're not going to a model by which you'd only get your £22 worth of royalties if every single person who did read your book went through the whole lot, no, i'd expect that you'd get more if you kept the readers attention. Amazon has always had a disruptive business model to benefit the consumer, usually by kicking distributors with lazy and outdated business models. Introducing pay per page is a good way of keeping their library quality high, particularly with the amazon unlimited business model of subscription access to a library. I assume netflix pay per second for digital media, I don't see why books should be different going forward. Micropayments in all forms are how the media industry as a whole are actually making money in the 21st century - it's the only business model that has worked.

      You shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, we're told. It begs the question - why should authors continue to be paid by the cover alone?

      1. James 51

        Re: [redacted] Amazon

        So. If you buy a loaf of bread but only pay half because you promise to only eat half? This has nothing to do with disrupting existing markets but kicking those with the least power in the publishing industry, authors without a book deal.

        1. Brenda McViking

          Re: [redacted] Amazon

          That's a rubbish analogy and you know it, but I'll run with it:

          If I pay for an all-you-can-eat buffet, and the food quality on offer is based on what the buffet buys from the suppliers, and the suppliers get paid by the food actually eaten rather than wasted, then it'd be the best buffet in the world, and I would go there often. Suppliers making the best bread would have it bought, those baking loaves which are over-salted and burnt to a cinder are very quickly not going to be part of that market anymore.

          I see nothing wrong with this.

          1. sabroni Silver badge

            Re: I see nothing wrong with this.

            What's wrong with it is that it's not for all books by all authors. It's also more penny pinching from an organisation that really doesn't need to, not for the relatively small amounts this will save them.

            But then it's their service so it's their rules. No doubt "we can change this whenever we feel like it" was in the massive Ts&Cs doc that everyone skipped....

          2. BillG
            Meh

            The Honor System

            This is based on The Honor System - in other words, authors have to trust that Amazon is telling the truth as to how many pages a reader views.

            Doesn't this sound like the same honor system that contributed to the failure of Amazon's affiliate program?

            1. RIBrsiq

              Re: The Honor System

              I believe authors already have to trust Amazon about how many times their book is bought. These are digital goods.

          3. James 51

            Re: [redacted] Amazon

            Sooner or later your suppliers are going to go bust or refuse to sell to you. To carry your analogy to it's end, how many Michelin starred restaurants are there and how many McDonalds are there?

        2. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: [redacted] Amazon

          IF you read the actual story you would know that this only applies to people with a subscription. You pay $x per month to read all you want.

          Now, if you post 500 pages if drivel with a catchy title you get paid for every download.

          With the new rules, people download your book and read a couple pages before deleting it, you only get paid for the pages read.

          - Customers are not effected, they pay the same. But might see fewer garbage books.

          - People posting crap will see their income drop to near zero.

          - People writing good books will only see a small drop due to some people just sampling their book.

          1. James 51

            Re: [redacted] Amazon

            Reading and leaving reviews would help weed out badly written books (Dan Brown manages to make a living somehow but anyway). Customers won't see fewer garbage books, it will just encourage authors to write to game the system.

            1. foxyshadis

              Re: [redacted] Amazon

              > Reading and leaving reviews would help weed out badly written books

              If you can't see that the abject failure of reviews to police the self-published ecosystem has directly led to this new policy, then I don't know what to tell you. Amazon reviews are bought and sold more often than ebooks themselves are, and this is Amazon admitting it can't fix reviews and has to try something radically different.

          2. Coen Dijkgraaf
            Coffee/keyboard

            Re: [redacted] Amazon

            - Authors will try to make their books as long as possible, without quite putting off the reader, so they get paid more.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: [redacted] Amazon

              There is nothing in the article about the distinction between fiction and non-fiction. My book on Amazon is a mathematics text book and is used as a look up reference. Nobody will ever sit and read it cover to cover.

          3. Securitymoose

            Re: [redacted] Amazon - totally agree

            At the moment, any drivel, any length can be uploaded and the authors get the same as if they'd written something worthwhile. I wouldn't be surprised if there was a machine out there to deliberately hype up crap just to get the income. From July, these crooks will be deactivated, as long as Amazon can tell the difference between a sweatshop paid to flick through pages without reading them, and a genuine reader. I will know if my books bring anything in from the 'Select' programme, because although I know they've been read, I've had two tenths of diddly back from the (other) big A. I'll give them a couple of months and then remove the lot and get back to the traditional methods.

          4. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
            Childcatcher

            Re: [redacted] Amazon

            I can see your point that it might eliminate click-bait books, but it will almost certainly be set up to also lower the amount paid to all authors Amazon feels it can get away with. The hint would be that Amazon is changing the payment model for self-published authors only. Those working through a publishing house are better able to fight negotiate this change. To paraphrase:

            Authors: [angry] That was never a condition of our agreement!

            Amazon: Perhaps you think you are being treated unfairly?

            Authors: [pause] No.

            Amazon: Good. It would be unfortunate if we had to give you even less.

            Authors: [under their collective breath] This deal is getting worse all the time.

      2. msknight
        Megaphone

        Re: [redacted] Amazon

        Actually, I support @Brenda McViking - I'm a small time indie author with an indie publisher.

        There are a lot of people trying to game the Amazon system to get cash from it. The readers and genuine authors are the ones who are suffering.

        No one trusts a corporation whether Amazon or other publisher, who has a vested interest in their own wares. The corporates put wonga on the table to devour the social sites, like Amazon did with GoodReads, so the reader faces a massive haystack to find a tiny needle; that fabled thing called, "a good read." Very rare beast these days.

        The system, as a whole, doesn't help authors either. Loads of snake-oil peddlers offering their own books on tips and tricks to become better authors and a load of it is utter rubbish which is of no help to anyone, other than to make an impoverished author even more impoverished.

        The Amazon book loaning system is reported to be a waste of time due to the system gaming that is going on; all those short works that people are throwing together deliberately to fleece the consumer (waste their precious time) and grab a share of the pot.

        While Amazon are right to be attempting to sort this out, they are going about it in completely the wrong way. They're just trying to fix something at as little cost to them as possible when, with a bit of oomph behind it, they could actually do something better for the world at large and make themselves in to the good guy rather than the company that we all have to suffer. But .. oh ... shareholders. I forgot about them. That's buggered that idea then.

  2. LucreLout Silver badge

    So....

    If I buy a book for £9.99 and read half of it because its a technical book, and I moved onto something else.... Do I get a refund on the other half of the money, or is Amazon just keeping that instead paying it to the author?

    No author, no book, no revenue. Seems shortsighted if my above query is indeed correct. If I've bought it, I expect the creator to be paid, whether or not I consume the whole product. It's not like I can send a couple of slices of Pizza back to Dominos for a refund...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So....

      I thought that, but it's not books that are sold, just subscription models....I think

    2. Midnight

      Re: So....

      "If I've bought it, I expect the creator to be paid, whether or not I consume the whole product. It's not like I can send a couple of slices of Pizza back to Dominos for a refund..."

      This isn't about Amazon giving you a refund for your unused pizza, this is about Amazon keeping your money but then docking the kitchen staff's pay because they don't think that the pizza was good enough for you to eat it all at once.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        Re: So....

        If you want to use a pizza analogy, then the buying a pizza and not eating it is wrong.

        Closer would be an all you can eat buffet. The shop offers a pig yourself stupid for £9.99

        The pizza maker gets paid per slice eaten.

        Those that make good pizza's get paid well.

        Those that make crap pizza's, not so well.

        Doesn't seem so unfair if using that analogy does it?

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: So....

          You omitted the final line:

          The shop keeps the money which doesn't go to the pizza maker, even though it hasn't worked more to earn that extra profit.

      2. Eponymous Cowherd

        Re: So....

        "This isn't about Amazon giving you a refund for your unused pizza, this is about Amazon keeping your money but then docking the kitchen staff's pay because they don't think that the pizza was good enough for you to eat it all at once."

        No, this is more like Dominoes docking kitchen staff pay because the customer didn't eat all of their pizza, despite charging that customer for the whole pizza.

        It doesn't matter why the customer didn't eat their pizza (maybe they just weren't as hungry as they thought) the staff still get their pay docked and the company still trouser the difference.

    3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: So....

      This applies to two of Amazon's programs, Kindle Unlimited which is a monthly subscription and Kindle Owners Lending Library which appears to be part of the Amazon Prime package. It also seems to only apply to folks who self publish on Amazon and we can assume that people under a major publisher will be paid the same as before this change so essentially they are screwing the independent writers.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: So....

        The Kindle Owners Lending Library is garbage. You can only borrow one book a month even if you return it and the selection sucks. I basically have loaded my Kindle with pre 1930's authors whose entire collections you can get for free or a nominal dollar or two. Catching up on my Lovecraft and Jack London. Its too bad Disney will never allow another to book to go into the public domain ever again (public domain stories are theirs to steal and recopyright ala Frozen).

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: So....

          "public domain stories are theirs to steal and recopyright ala Frozen"

          No, they can only copyright their own derivative works. The original out of copyright work is still out of copyright.

          1. asdf Silver badge

            Re: So....

            I know and I will say Disney is one of the most effective companies out there at turning cash into kids smiles and entertainment. I just wish eternal copyright for all works wasn't all but in their mission statement.

    4. BillG
      Paris Hilton

      Re: So....

      Is this based on the percentage of the book read? if so, it seems that high quality 500+ paged ebooks will do poorly compared to lousy quality 20-page ebooks.

  3. Steve Knox
    Trollface

    Use Large Fonts.

    Problem Solved.

    1. Ragarath

      Re: Use Large Fonts.

      Not really a viable option on eBooks as you can change the size. I know it was a troll and arrggghhhh.... it's got me.

      1. Frederic Bloggs

        Re: Use Large Fonts.

        Maybe it was a troll (good use of icons there) but it does beg the question: how big (many words) is a page then? Is it defined anywhere visible (I can't find it)?

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Use Large Fonts.

          The original 'word count' used by publishers was 1 page per 250 words of 10pt Courier.

          Many other 'standards' now exist...

        2. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Re: Use Large Fonts.

          They have a standard that they use for all books. 18 point double spaced will not make you any more money.

      2. BillG
        Happy

        Re: Use Large Fonts.

        Not really a viable option on eBooks as you can change the size.

        Then I have the real solution - use more page breaks.

    2. jr424242

      Re: Use Large Fonts.

      Amazon is miles ahead of you. They have defined the KUNPV, kindle unlimited normalized page view, and that is the basis for the payment. It controls for font size. It also controls for genre, which is interesting.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Use Large Fonts.

        What, are you saying that genres imply different fonts? So, Copperplate for Westerns? Impact for Sales Training? Comic MS for pre-teen stuff?

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Use Large Fonts.

          Genre is a very important factor. If they only went strictly by character/word count then folks who write comic books graphic novels would get about two and a half page views regardless of the actual length of the book/magazine. Is a picture really worth a thousand (Amazon counted) words?

    3. mythicalduck

      Re: Use Large Fonts.

      It's not "Use larger fonts", it's "Use dictionary definitions of your words".

      ie, Rather than say something was "eloquently put", you'd write "You argued your case with powerful and effective language!".

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    In a way I get it...

    ...it will filter out the utter dross that is out there.

    I sort of get the idea behind it..if you write a great book, that is 500 pages long and everyone reads the whole book, why should you get paid the same as someone who writes a load of crap that is 50 pages long and people can't get past page 2.

    So I sort of get it, but then again, I can see the argument against it.

    I'm going to sit on the fence on this one.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: In a way I get it...

      Incentive to write a real page-turner.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In a way I get it...

      It's what I hate about fantasy and sci-fi books, the obsession with massive page counts full of rambling drivel. I'd sooner read and pay for 20 pages of tightly written story - instead of 5 books of 600 pages of fucking dross.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        Re: In a way I get it...

        > pay for 20 pages of tightly written story

        ie Phillip K Dick short stories. So good many were made into full length movies (and then often butchered but I digress).

        1. foxyshadis

          Re: In a way I get it...

          PKD was in-demand, meaning that even today he would still have a publisher (even if it was a collective rather than one of the majors) in order to sell his stories for a better price. This doesn't affect publisher contracts at all, only if you let Amazon be your publisher.

          Not to mention that the practice of paying by word was long-standard practice by his day (do you really think it's any coincidence that Dickens' novels are so long?), and he wasn't particularly well compensated in his day relative to his impact on culture, at least until the movie royalties rolled in. The nature of the game has always meant weighing artistry with selling out.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In a way I get it...

      That doesn't make much sense. You might get a full refund option for physical books or DVDs, and sometimes you might not. Walking out of a movie theater 20 minutes in? Maybe you can get a refund, and a seat goes unfilled. The real problem is that an ebook and other "digital goods" cost next-to-nothing.

      If you don't consider your ebook purchase a donation to the author (with an Amazon tax) then you should pirate the ebook instead where possible. There is no reason to pay for "digital goods" you don't like. Support ebook piracy.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Coat

    Hmmm ... compare and contrast ...

    people object to paying for tracks they don't want on albums. But apply the same model to books ....

    I await the inevitable downvotes from people without my sense of irony.

    1. Ralph B

      Re: Hmmm ... compare and contrast ...

      No downvotes from us, surely. We're all big Led Zep fans here on The Reg forums.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        We're all big Led Zep fans here on The Reg forums

        I bet you could still forget "Hats off to Harper" ?

        1. asdf Silver badge

          Re: We're all big Led Zep fans here on The Reg forums

          Was going to point to some of the tracks on their later albums as being worse than Hats off to Harper but damn if I didn't go listen to some of them again and decide I love them all including Hats off. That's how you become the greatest band ever. Every track is worth a listen even the bootleg ones that never got released (Jennings Farm Blues for example).

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. sabroni Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: We're all big Led Zep fans here on The Reg forums.

        That's fighting talk where I come from!

  6. SirWired 1

    What was happening was that a bunch of authors were gaming the system by turning out really short shovel-books, and depending on the fact that people weren't giving up on the books until after they had gone through the 10% minimum read to get a payout. (i.e. you publish a 50-page piece of junk, it only wastes like two minutes to go through five pages.)

    Price-per-page is a lot more fair for everybody. If you, author, can't hold your reader's attention to read more of your longer book, write better books.

    Given how the total payout remains the same, it's hard to argue that the new method is a worse way of splitting up the pool.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: Price-per-page is a lot fairer for everybody.

      Then apply it to every book.

      1. Swarthy
        Holmes

        Re: re: Price-per-page is a lot fairer for everybody.

        It IS applied to every book. That is: every book gotten under the subscription model.

        This has nothing to do with buying an e-book from No Starch Press, or the like where you buy the book for $25. This applies to the programs where you pay $10/month for access to an entire catalog.

        How it used to work: Amazon collected all the subscription fees into a pool, and divvied them out by how many times your book(s) got downloaded (and read past 10%).

        How it will work: Amazon will collect all the subscription fees into a pool, and divvie them out by how many pages are read.

        Before: Say Amazon had 1000 downloads in a month; if Writer A had 100 downloads of their 20-page pamphlet short story and people read past page 2, but not past page 3, they got 10% of the pool. Writer B, with 10 downloads of their very interesting and captivating 300 page book would get 1% of the pot.

        Now: If Amazon Unlimited subscribers read 10000 pages this month, 200 of those pages (0.02%) are from Writer A, and 3000 pages (30%) are from Writer B.

        The same pool is being distributed, but now it encourages good books, and does not penalize long books. This really could only be considered unfair if you are Writer A, pumping out crap with an interesting title and/or premise but not wasting time with spell checking, punctuation, or making it readable after the 10% mark.

        Even writing short serials a la Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will still get you pages read, so would not be impacted by this.

        1. Ralph B

          Re: re: Price-per-page is a lot fairer for everybody.

          Thanks for the explanation, Swarthy. In either case, I see some opportunities to game the system, but much more easily in the former case.

          Previously, the "author" would need to hire a sweat-shop to repeatedly download his "book" to ensure an unfair slice of the Amazon pie. Now he (or she) will also need to get the sweat-shop to pretend-read the "book" too. Which will hopefully be enough to make such trickery economically unviable.

          So, well done Amazon!

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Forget It

    Maybe authors could supply their books to Amazon one page at a time.

    Then if it gets read enough they supply the next page.

    Oops I just reinvented blog posts

  9. Kevin Johnston

    So the murder mysteries then...

    Authors are going to have to hide where the murderer is revealed to stop people looking at the last page and giving up reading or they will only get paid one page per book

  10. Ami Ganguli
    Thumb Up

    Seems like a great idea

    I don't understand why this is even controversial.

    They're not changing the total paid out to authors (as far as I can tell from the article). Rather they're changing how they allocate the payout.

    In a subscription model, there's nothing stopping me as a reader from sampling 20 different books before settling on one I actually want to read. I used to do this all the time with O'Reilly's ebook platform. It makes sense that the authors whose books I actually spend time with should get a greater percentage of my subscription money than the authors whom I look at and then toss.

    If you write crappy books with nice covers, then this is bad news, but if you write good books that readers want to keep reading, then you're in line for a pay raise, as the pool of available money is the same, but your cut will be bigger.

  11. Extra spicey vindaloo

    I've just read.

    A 10 book series, back to back twice,

    Does that mean the author gets twice the payout?

    When I reread books, and I do lots of times. Do the authors get paid again?

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: I've just read.

      Hmmmmm. 10 book series. Tech site, so likely a nerd. I'm gonna shout....Wheel of Time. No, wait! Belgariad/Mallorean.

  12. AceRimmer

    Peter F. Hamilton

    Is rubbing his hands with glee

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So much fail

    People are completely missing the point. The sale price of the books won't change.

    Authors will get paid less, people who buy the books will still pay the same and Amazon will just pocket the difference.

    1. andy 10
      Facepalm

      Re: So much fail

      Yep fail indeed...

      It's not books you buy, it's books you read while paying a fixed subscription, the pot of money Amazon are paying out stays the same but more of it goes to the authors who write books actually worth reading.

      Not seeing a problem with this...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And then there's the discrepancy ..

    where *some* 300 page books are £5.99, and *some* 100 page books are £19.99.

    Sometimes things can be a little like as thread ... you start pulling and before you know it, you've unravelled *everything*

  15. Stephen Booth

    Rental not Retail

    Kindle unlimited is rental not retail.

    You get access to any book on the "unlimited" list while you continue to pay the monthly subscription.

    Stop paying you lose access.

    Paying by pages read might make sense in this model.

    However my personal choice is to pay for each book I choose to read. I seem to be reading a lot of the self-published books at the moment because the buy price is generally pretty low (below my why-not threshold)

    On the whole I don't think I'm paying extra other than when I really get into a book and go through the 7 book series. In which case I'd rather the money went to the author.

  16. Greg J Preece

    This is going to be a bitch for people writing technical manuals/reference books/textbooks. Does anyone read every single page of the computing books they buy?

  17. fajensen Silver badge

    Steven King will presumably be happy & rich - unless the kindle tracks that we read Kings double-brick-tomes the same way as the poems and songs in the works of Tolkien: "Yada-yada-yada ..wtf?.. flip, flip, flip, more yada ... finally, 27 pages later ... Oh ..... The Story continues ... Wonderful!"

  18. Whitter
    Joke

    Pity the poor poets

    Quite literally poor it would seem.

  19. Reallydo Wannaknow
    Trollface

    can't believe no one has suggested this yet ...

    How long before some clever techie creates a simple script which "reads" each page of an e-book?

  20. Justicesays

    wont someone think of the

    "Choose your own adventure" book authors?

    1. Spleen

      Re: wont someone think of the

      If you thought of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book authors, turn to page 28.

      If you didn't think of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book authors, turn to page 17.

  21. stringyfloppy

    Suppose someone self-publishes a book, 1000 people buy the Kindle version but no one reads it. Then five years later the writer becomes well known, and everyone who bought those 1000 copies suddenly reads all of it. Would Amazon pay the writer at that point? Or is there some cut off point by which customers must read pages in order for the writer to get paid?

  22. Speltier

    Piece part page pay makes sense

    If you actually read any ebooks, you know that a lot of the indies are ... not that good.

    I read science fiction, but don't like most "young adult" SF, or books riddled with typos and bad grammar. You don't always know what a book is like till you get part way into the book-- why should inferior authors be paid for an entire book when the reader only reads a small number of pages before giving up?

    I can also see the gaming of the former system. Have a great intro and super first chapter (hook the bucks) then pad with a lot of drivel since you don't care once you got your piece of the nut. This is a whole lot easier than actually sweating out an ENTIRE quality novel.

  23. Camilla Smythe

    Erm No...

    You see I have not seen 'Broke Back Mountain' which is apparently about Gay Cow Folks and I have not read the book... assuming it exists,

    So, Therefore I do not want Amazon knowing I repeatedly return to pages n through n+x where the main characters satiate their innate desires with the male animals in the local barn.

    There is something wrong here and I am not convinced it is me.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone else....

    Spotted the opportunity for 'Choose Your Own Way' adventure books under this scheme? Muffuggas gonna HAVE to turn the pages

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If there are any means...

    ...to screw people out of money the big boys will do it.

  26. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Amazon have seen Apple's recent publicity

    and decided to try the same with books.

    Curiously, I don't stream books the same way I don't stream music: if I have an ebook it's either been scanned by me from a copy I own, or it's a public domain book from Gutenberg or similar, or it's a naughty scan of a book I own but have not personally scanned. Note that I have discussed this with published authors and they are quite happy for this approach, though they would of course prefer that free copies are not generally available (I don't publish the books I scan).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do the publisher contracts permit this?

    Surely Amazon can't unilaterally decide to pay a page at a time unless the contracts have some sort of language about selling parts of books.

    1. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

      Re: Do the publisher contracts permit this?

      "Surely Amazon can't unilaterally decide to pay a page at a time unless the contracts have some sort of language about selling parts of books."

      These are self-published books, Amazon *is* the publisher. I'm sure they made sure their own contract permits changing the payment terms.

      "Suppose someone self-publishes a book, 1000 people buy the Kindle version but no one reads it. Then five years later the writer becomes well known, and everyone who bought those 1000 copies suddenly reads all of it. Would Amazon pay the writer at that point?"

      No they wouldn't be paid in 5 years, they would be paid at time of purchase for the whole book. People who pay the monthly fee for "all you can read" never purchase the book, so I would assume they could put the book on their device now, flip through the whole book 5 years from now and the author would be paid for them flipping through the whole book.

      "This is going to be a bitch for people writing technical manuals/reference books/textbooks. Does anyone read every single page of the computing books they buy?"

      Anyone buying a book, they will buy the book and the technical manual author will get the same as before. This is just for this "all you can read" service, and self-publish through Amazon.

  28. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I know why they are doing this

    First off, I don't know about various posters, but I'm not a consumer, I'm a customer (or not -- I don't subscribe to Amazon's book service.)

    I know why they are doing this. Or at least strongly suspect. I can think of two good reasons.

    I've seen, time and again, self-published "books" that are like 10-20 pages long. This is not to denigrate these books, but I really don't see it as fair for a short story to be paid out the same as a full-length novel.

    I've also seen a few books in Amazon, where the preview made it clear it was gibberish. Not merely badly written, but apparently text from one of those spam-web-page pseudo-English text generators... the ones that make text that at casual glance appears to be English but when trying to read it it's nonsense and sentence fragments. These guys shouldn't be paid at all, but this way when a reader glances at 1 page, says "WTF!", and moves on, they at least will be paid for 1 page instead of a whole book.

    Of course, the devil is in the details. It's probably possible for Amazon to set a per-page rate so typical writers actually make more than before, while cutting down payment on very short books and "spam page text" books enough that Amazon still saves money. But, it's of course also possible for the per-page rate to be set way too low so everyone loses but Amazon.

  29. jonfr

    As a writer publishing on Amazon

    For me as a writer, this means only one thing. I won't allow renting of my ebooks on Amazon, since that is the publishing platform that I am using at the moment.

    As for length of stories on the ebook platform. A study showed that shorter stories are better for digital devices then longer stories, since it appears that people don't like to stare for long period of time on a screen, since it tires them (or the eyes). This means for me that my books (120+ pages) have to come out in print (I will deal with that once I get at that time).

    I can't find the link to that study, but I found this link about similar subject, it's interesting in my view.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/why-digital-natives-prefer-reading-in-print-yes-you-read-that-right/2015/02/22/8596ca86-b871-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html

    Here are the two stories I have published so far. I know that DRM doesn't work so it's disabled on all of my ebooks.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00ZO9I9LE?*Version*=1&*entries*=0 (UK link).

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00M9WD38I?*Version*=1&*entries*=0 (UK link)

    If the links are not here they have been removed by a moderator. I price all my short stories around 3€.

    1. Swarthy
      Facepalm

      Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

      If you know that this policy shift will hurt the income from your books, than I appreciate you sharing that information.You have just told me that it's not worth reading your books, as you believe them to be crap.

      Or (at 4 and 9 pages, respectively) you were banking on the ADD audience to download them repeatedly.

      1. jonfr

        Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

        It won't just hurt my income, it is going to hurt everyone income large writers and small. As for you making things up, I never sad that "as you believe them to be crap", that is your own word into my mouth, I am going to shovel you out of there right this moment. Since I don't take kindly to people claiming that I have sad something, when it is clear that I have not sad it.

        You have not read my stories, so you can't criticise them. This are also just short stories, it takes a long time to write a good book and a complete stories due to all the details that must be right and to make sure that no holes are in the story as it is written. I am also just starting out as a writer, so it is going to take me a few years to build up a good collection of stories on Amazon and other ebook publishers if I want to.

        Good story is not necessary based on page length, it is based on what is says and how the story is told. I doubt that you would understand such a detail, given on your behaviour here (that is to say, is sadly less then adequate for human communications).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

          For someone who claims to be a writer, your grammar and spelling is poor.

          1. jonfr

            Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

            The problem lies with English grammar rules, they are not spelled out as they sound, as many languages do. There are also no simple rules on how English is used.

            Then there are all manners of varieties of the English language.

            https://sites.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/all-about-linguistics/branches/varieties-of-english/what-is-varieties-of-english

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dialects_of_the_English_language

            So this might not be my grammar, it might be your local version of English confusing you. I keep things mostly English - UK standard as I can and trying to avoid spillover from English - U.S variant.

            1. AceRimmer

              Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

              "The problem lies with English grammar rules"

              Bad workmen etc...

              The "look inside" snippet I sampled read as if it had been mangled through Google translate

              1. jonfr

                Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

                If we put you trough Google Translate we might get some results or maybe not. I might have been too optimistic.

        2. Swarthy
          WTF?

          Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

          If I understand you correctly, What you mean by "It won't just hurt my income, it is going to hurt everyone income large writers and small" Is that by changing how they divide the monthly pool of royalties, Amazon is going to pay everyone less?

          Amazon is not shrinking the pool of royalties they are paying out. They are simply changing how they calculate each writer's share.

          The reasoning behind my interpretation of your first post, IE that you pulled a Ratner, is as follows:

          >The pool of royalties is consistent, and Amazon are now paying per page rather than per book

          >IF this hurts your income then your "books" are very short (and you were gaming the system), and/or you don't expect people to read all of the pages (and you were gaming the system).

          I have no quibbles with short stories, I quite enjoy a lot of them. If you are writing shorts, and are relying on them for income, then you need to be more prolific; bitching this change will hurt your income from 15 pages...

          1. jonfr

            Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

            The problem with pay-per-page in the lending (that I am now going to avoid on Amazon) is that it leaves writers on a short stick. The general rule for libraries is that they pay {amount} x {number of lending} depending on agreement by the country copyright group for writers (or publishers). Popular authors get more out of that pool as is normal then less popular writers.

            Details. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Lending_Right

            Details 2: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/06/authors-public-lending-right-payments-frozen

            This pay-per-page on Amazon lending undercuts this income source for writers. It won't change anything in the world of paper. Many writers might not allow lending of there ebooks on Amazon because of this. I sure won't allow it from now on.

        3. Spleen

          Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

          I did read your stories, or at least what little was available on the "Look Inside", so presumably that means I can criticise them. You're a terrible writer. Sorry. If you were 8 years old the quality of your writing would be understandable, but I doubt that an 8-year-old would be on El Reg.

          1. AceRimmer

            Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

            You read about 10-20% of the book

            HTH

          2. jonfr

            Re: As a writer publishing on Amazon

            I must give you credit for decent trolling. Too bad you didn't learn the art from the irc days.

  30. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    cynical grumpy bastard comment

    Amazon, big international conglomerate that *sort* of makes money, depending on which of their very expensive lawyers you ask.

    Independent authors putting out books on service offered by Amazon.

    Subscription service offered by Amazon has books from independent authors. Pays out based on "read".

    Subscription service changes terms to based on pages read.

    a) nothing says that "payout" in (a) = "payout" in (b)

    b) nothing says that "the pool of money" that provides "payout" = "subscription fees collected"

    Cynical bastard points out that Big International Conglomerates *DO NOT* do things to make their suppliers *richer* EVER. Any change is done to put more dollars in Big International Conglomerate's coffers.

    Might it keep garbage producers from making too much money? possibly. Will it make decent independent authors more money? possibly. But I seriously doubt that it was done for this reason.

  31. aurizon

    refund

    It seems reasonable. If you buy a book, and find after a few pages that is not to your liking, you sould be able to reduce your cost via refund.

    It is possible that Amazon wants to refuse a refund and since they know you have only read very little, give very little to the author.

    In fact, if Amazon wants to only give a proportionate amount to the author, then the purchase price for the book that did not hold you, should be refunded.

  32. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it"

    So, you write a technical manual. 60% of it deals with corner cases that few people ever need to read but if anyone needs to read up on one of those they really, really need it. But about 10% is valuable reference stuff that readers keep going back to. So most readers read 30% of the book once and pay for it once, they read 10% a lot but still only pay for it once and have the reassurance that the other 60% is there and that has value for them but they pay for little or any of it. Somehow that doesn't seem like a fair basis for payment, at least not for a reference work.

  33. raving angry loony

    If I pay for the whole book, then I expect authors to get a whole book worth of royalties. If I only pay Amazon "per page", then OK, pay the authors per page as well.

    To me, this just looks like another money grab by Amazon on the backs of the authors. As usual, really.

    1. Ralph B

      > If I pay for the whole book

      In this case you are not paying for the book. As the article states: 'It will affect self-published authors on the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners' Lending Library." So, only books you are lending or renting from Amazon, not those that you buy. Remember, Kindle Unlimited users are free to download as many books (on the list) as they want, for a fixed monthly fee.

      > To me, this just looks like another money grab by Amazon on the backs of the authors.

      Amazon are not reducing the size of the royalties pie, they are just changing the way it is distributed. Authors who write books that users read will receive more, whilst authors who write books that users don't read will receive less. Personally I can't see this as anything other than a Good Thing.

      Of course, if you think Amazon is using some (other) trick of false accounting to screw the authors, then this is quite another (unrelated) matter.

  34. Chairo
    FAIL

    Strange

    No one here talks about the implications of the new payment model for the customer.

    Obviously Amazon tracks your reading on a page to page basis. It's nasty enough that they know which books I own, now they also track what and which part of it I read how often. I for one don't like someone looking over my shoulder while I read. That includes Amazon.

    1. VinceH

      Re: Strange

      " It's nasty enough that they know which books I own, now they also track what and which part of it I read how often."

      You know how if you have a Kindle and the Kindle app on a phone or tablet, when you read up to a certain point on one the other is updated so you can carry on from the same point? That's what this is, and it's been part of the system for at least as long as I've had the app - which is a good few years now. Probably since the beginning, or as near as damn it.

  35. john devoy

    Why are people surprised?

    I am amazed that people are so surprised at this, contrary to anything Amazon may say about empowering authors etc they are in the business of making money; I'm only surprised they haven't yet tried to claim joint authorship of anything put on their service. We will probably see a lot of much longer books now.

  36. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Paranoia is its own reward

    I don't own a Kindle, so could some kind soul enlighten me?

    If I did own a Kindle would it actually record how many pages of each ebook I read, how many times I returned to the particularly subversive page 341, and how much time I spent re-reading that page of 50 Shades of the day? Will it be able to tell whether I really enjoyed it or dozed off or was distracted? And would it beam the summary to the mother ship the moment I step off the plane and switch the flight mode off?

    Until now, I have stuck to dead trees for many other reasons, but duly noted.

    1. VinceH

      Re: Paranoia is its own reward

      As I said in reply to someone else above, the Kindle platform keeps a track of where you've read up to in a book so that it can keep multiple devices/copies of the app in sync in terms of where you are in any given book.

      It's done this for at least as long as I've been using it, and probably since the start.

  37. tempemeaty
    Facepalm

    What is this, avarice week?

    In our busy work to death lives we seldom read all the books we buy. This is taking advantage of that fact, just to feed more avarice of the 1%.

    Most likely this will end small book publishing on Amazon by this time next year.

  38. Securitymoose

    Enraged? Bull elephants can be enraged, not authors.

    Knowing a lot of the self published authors on Amazon, I can't imagine any of them stamping around smashing crockery and writing to the Guardian. Stop sensationalising a couple of whingers who obviously have written crap books and will see their income drop from £5 a month to zero, making no difference at all to their standard of living.

    I expect they will be 'devastated' as well after July. Note that Warsaw and Dresden in WW2 were 'devastated'; I'm not sure you can compare writers to that.

    Keep things in perspective will you, otherwise you will be likened to the 'Daily Outrage'.

  39. Isaac.Eiland-Hall

    ADHD is real, friends

    I know ElReg is known for being irreverent and silly, and I respect and love that and always have. But I also wanted to post a comment regarding your incorrect usage and reference to ADHD, which is a real condition that many, like me, have. I'd say "suffer from", but although there are negatives, there are also positives.

    For one, ADHD folks are more likely to read more pages than the average joe — if it's something in which they're interested. We have something called "hyperfocus", where we can lose hours in something without realizing it. I've started on programming projects in the morning and not realized I'd been working the entire day until I noticed my hands were trembling from lack of food and it was dark outside.

    On the other hand, if something doesn't engage us, then yes, we tend to be drawn to noises and movement much more easily than other people. It can be quite annoying not to be able to focus on something you want to.

    So I'm not asking for an apology or retraction, but there are plenty of people who don't understand ADHD; who make fun of us. I just want you to be aware that by spreading misinformation, like everyone else who does so, you cause mild harm to all of us. As long as people are aware of what ADHD is and isn't, then I'm much more okay with people using it to be silly. Just don't forget we're real people out here with real struggles.

    And don't stop being TheRegister, ever, of course. <3

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon don't make any money

    Look at how little profit they make, and how little tax they can afford to pay.

  41. Andy 73

    My book

    John thought hard about what he was going to do.. the most outrageous, dangerous and yet romantic action he had ever dared take in his life. He would..

    (cont. on page 2.)

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't care so much about the pricing.

    I will not have a publisher tracking which pages I read.

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