Kindle Unlimited Royalty Change

Amazon announced yesterday that they are changing the way royalties are paid on books read through the Kindle Unlimited subscription program (and KOLL). Formerly, I’ve understood, authors got the same royalties no matter what the size of the book. Same payment to author whether the customer borrowed a 15,000 word short story or a 150,000 word big novel. This led to things like smart authors gaming the process to increase their income. Break the book into multiple chapters or sections and release it as a serial. Would you rather get royalties for one book, or list that book in parts and get multiple times the royalties (assuming the reader liked the first piece and went on to the rest)? No-brainer.

Clearly this payment method was not “fair” to all authors, if they did not go the “make it multiple pieces” route. And although it did not affect cost for customer, it could lead to annoyance at having to access multiple files for one story. And opportunities to abuse the reader’s expectations, if an author put the first part in the KU subscription program, but did not include the other sections and didn’t tell readers right up front that they’d have to buy the rest at full price to get the complete book.

So Amazon’s new royalty method for KU? Pay the author depending on how many pages the customer read. (Must be minimum 10% to qualify for any payment.) This makes a lot of sense, and it rewards authors who write books people actually read. As a writer, if you can keep the reader involved for the whole book, rather than them quitting after a few pages or chapters, to me you deserve more payment because you wrote a better or more marketable book that people actually read.

So I applaud Amazon for this change.

Amazon’s info (

Beginning July 1, 2015, we’ll switch from paying Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) royalties based on qualified borrows, to paying based on the number of pages read. 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.”


“As with our current approach, we’ll continue to set a KDP Select Global Fund each month. Under the new payment method, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read instead of their share of total qualified borrows.”


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