Amazon Digital Downloads Charge Eats At Your Ebook Royalties

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Amazon KDP Delivery Costs Will Reduce Your Ebook Royalty

Many authors are unaware that KDP charges for Kindle ebook delivery, which can reduce your ebook royalties

Hidden deep in Amazon KDP Terms and Conditions is a table of delivery charges for Kindle ebook delivery.

So deep in fact, that the breadcrumb to the Amazon digital downloads charge looks like this:

Kindle Direct Publishing > Legal > Kindle Direct Publishing > Terms and Conditions > Pricing Page.

Here is the list of digital delivery charges for ebooks. Most authors are probably unaware of this and don’t know that the file size of an ebook can cut into their book royalty payments from Amazon. Here is the table Amazon provides.


Delivery Costs are equal to the number of megabytes we determine your Digital Book file contains, multiplied by the Delivery Cost rate listed below. US $0.15/MB CAD $0.15/MB R$0.30/MB UK £0.10/MB €0,12/MB €0,12/MB €0,12/MB INR ₹7/MB €0,12/MB €0,12/MB ¥1/MB MXN $1/MB AUD $0.15/MB


While this might only look like pennies at first glance, once you understand that even a plain text-only ebook with a normal resolution cover will usually be around 2.00MB in size, the costs in the above table immediately double.

If your cover image is very high-resolution, your ebook file size will start to increase dramatically.

So, if your ebook sale price is $2.99 and you are on the 70% royalty rate, you might think that your royalty will be $2.09, but in fact, it will only be $1.89 for a 2MB ebook file size after the $0.30 delivery charge has been deducted.

But that is only the beginning of the story.


Go easy on images in Kindle ebooks

Once you start adding images to an ebook, the file size will increase rapidly.

So much so that if the file size reaches 10MB, your royalty will be less at 70% ($1.04) than at 35% ($1.05).

This is because Amazon does not charge delivery costs on digital orders if you choose the 35% KDP royalty rate.

It is only Amazon that charges for ebook sales delivery as far as I can ascertain, and it may have something to do with delivering to Kindle devices, but I really don’t know why. Other ebook retailers can manage to deliver without any additional charges at all.

To check the file size of your ebooks on Amazon, go to your book page and check your product details.

It is the first item, and it will be listed in KB. 1,000KB equals 1MB.

While researching this post I came across a useful online tool to calculate royalty returns on Guy Kawasaki’s website for all the major ebook publishing platforms.

Input your ebook file size in megabytes, and it will give an approximation of your expected royalty from Kindle, Apple, Nook, Kobo and Google Play.


Earning a minus ebook royalty?

Here’s a killer statistic to finish.

If your ebook retail price is priced at $2.99 on KDP’s 70% royalty rate, and it is loaded with images and reaches 20MB in size, your royalty with be, -$0.01.

Yes, your images and Amazon’s delivery charge will wipe out all of your earnings. You will earn nothing for every book you sell.

But if you choose the 35% royalty option, you will make $1.05. In fact, your ebook file size can be as large as you like at 35% because no delivery fee is charged.

However, if you publish on Apple, Nook, Kobo or Google Play, the size of your ebook file will not affect your royalty return at all.

As with all things self-publishing, nothing is ever plain and simple.

To solve the problem, my advice to those who are publishing ebooks with a lot of images would be to consider using either Draft2Digital or Smashwords to publish your ebook as you will earn much higher royalties.

Or, publish in print book and be sure that when you sell a copy of your book, you will earn your expected royalty.


Related reading: Are Your Amazon Books Merged On Your Book Sales Page?


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

9 thoughts on “Amazon Digital Downloads Charge Eats At Your Ebook Royalties

  • January 9, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Just curious, file size…does this include internal images only or do they include cover image too? I have spoken to industry cover designers who maintain it is ALL images (interior and exterior) yet when I mentioned this in a group of authors one (says they are tech???) was adamant that it only applied to interior images.
    Any clarity on this would be welcome.

    • January 9, 2019 at 9:41 am

      My understanding is that the file size includes the cover image. But I can’t find a 100% answer on KDP.

  • January 16, 2018 at 3:26 am

    Charging $0.15/mb is insane! Their 30% can help cover the operating cost of the platform, but it seems to me that adding the “Delivery” charge on top is crazy. Took the wife and I an HOUR to determine that the author pays the delivery fee, and out of their commission. In our case, we are doing a paperback, as well, so our book is formatted with much higher graphics. Once I understood that we needed to get the book size down, well, I think that nonsense will go away.

    However, the difference between the 35% and 70% is just .49 cents. We aren’t really in this (with this book) to make money, so not sure why I should go through the hassle of maintaining two source copies (one with 300 dpi and one with 72 dpi).

    • January 16, 2018 at 3:31 am

      We ARE dropping the book filesize, though, simply to make it better for the end user, so they don’t have to wait forever (over wifi connections) and to not suck up all their available device disk space!

  • December 27, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    This means better not include Mexico in ebook distribution!? MXN $1/MB

    • May 22, 2019 at 6:23 pm

      i believe that’s $1 in mexican money which is about .10 cents.

  • September 13, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I might accept that a charge needs to happen by file size. But arguably, this is 30 cents for the example book size.

    Surely Amazon can spare that 30 cents more than the author, given that Amazon’s already got a 30% taste on the profits anyway.

    I would be curious if the big publishers are operating under the same parameters Self-Pubs are. 30% skim and $.15/MB?

  • January 2, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    A delivery fee would make more sense if it were only assessed when customers download to Kindle devices over a 3G connection. I don’t know what that actually costs Amazon per MB so can’t judge whether $0.15/MB is fair, but it’s certainly something higher than $0. But that it’s charged for wi-fi delivery too, and at a much higher price than Amazon’s S3 cloud storage and delivery service, is practically thievery. S3 storage costs less than 3 cents per GB per month in most regions around the world, and typically around 10 cents per GB for delivery. At S3 prices, a 1MB file could be delivered to 1000 people for about a dime — less than the charge for delivering a 1MB KDP book to a single person.

    • January 2, 2017 at 9:45 pm

      Your stats give a good clue that it’s close to daylight robbery, Dan.


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