Amazon KDP Downloads Charge Eats At Your Ebook Royalties
If you publish with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), do you understand the royalty structure for Kindle ebooks? There is an Amazon downloads charge.
When a reader buys one of your ebooks, Amazon deducts a small amount from your royalties for delivery.
You probably never noticed, but there is a deduction on every sale.
However, if you have a lot of images in your ebook, you could have a considerable reduction in your KDP royalties.
The Amazon digital downloads charge
Hidden deep in Amazon KDP Terms and Conditions is a table of the Amazon digital services charge for Kindle ebooks.
So deep 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 Amazon digital delivery charges for ebook distribution.
Most authors are probably unaware of this and don’t know that the file size of an ebook can cut into their KDP royalty payment 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.
Amazon.com: US $0.15/MB
Amazon.ca: CAD $0.15/MB
Amazon.co.uk: UK £0.10/MB
Amazon.in: INR ₹7/MB
Amazon.com.mx: MXN $1/MB
Amazon.com.au: AUD $0.15/MB
It might only look like pennies at first glance.
But once you understand that even a plain text-only ebook with a standard resolution cover design will usually be around 2.00MB in size, the file delivery costs in the above table immediately double.
If your cover image is very high-resolution, your ebook file size will increase dramatically.
If the list price for your ebook is $2.99 and you are on the 70% royalty rate, you might think your royalty will be $2.09.
But it will only be $1.89 for a 2MB ebook file size after the $0.30 Amazon downloads 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 of your ebook will increase rapidly.
But it depends on which royalty level you select when you publish.
So much so that if the file size reaches 10MB, your royalty will be less at 70% ($1.04) than at 35% ($1.05).
It is because Amazon does not charge delivery costs on digital orders if you select the 35% royalty rate.
As far as I can ascertain, only Amazon charges for ebook delivery. It may have something to do with delivering to Kindle devices, but I don’t know why.
Other retailers manage to deliver ebooks 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.
You can see how quickly a few large images can affect your KDP ebook royalty.
If you want to avoid losing money, you should ensure that any images you use in your ebook are compressed to the smallest size possible.
We have an article explaining how to compress images for ebooks that will help you to reduce your images considerably.
You can earn a minus ebook royalty
Here’s a not-so-pleasant statistic about your Kindle royalties to finish.
If your ebook retail price is $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 for every book sold.
Yes, your images and Amazon’s delivery charge will wipe out all of your book sales earnings and Amazon royalties.
You will earn less than nothing from every ebook 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.
As with all things self-publishing, nothing is ever plain and simple.
To solve the problem, my advice to those publishing ebooks with many images would be to consider using either Draft2Digital or Smashwords to publish your ebook.
You will earn much fairer and higher royalties for an ebook with a lot of images.
The other alternative is to publish a POD print book version and be sure that you will earn your expected royalty when you sell a copy of your book.
The only good news is if you enrolled in KDP Select and your ebooks are available on Kindle Unlimited in the Kindle Store.
As far as I can gather, there is (probably) no delivery fee for subscriber reading.
Related reading: Is Kindle Unlimited Worthwhile For Self-Publishing Authors?
16 thoughts on “Amazon KDP Downloads Charge Eats At Your Ebook Royalties”
Being 74, I look back fondly on the PETER PAUPER series, and have an idea for a small book, cat-themed. I am retired, live in New Orleans and look after a colony of delightful free-ranging TNR’d felines. Over the years I have taken some charming fotos of them..My envisioned format (back to PP books, then): LEFT hand page, short text, pithy comment, whatever..RIGHT hand page, photograph. Since there are roughly a dozen animals, their markings, personalities and uniqueness are appealing, as well as eye catching. With a worldwide audience of cat lovers out there, many who share my humane concerns – this might well be an interesting, small scaled starter project. But the foto quality needs to really kick the gong, or else…. Still learning, and thanks for sharing your wisdom and expertise. I’m already beaucoup smarter!! Cheers from The French Quarter.
Hi Derek, this article was really good to read. This is my first time publishing a children’s book on Amazon KDP. Since it’s a children’s book, I have about 12 full-page images plus the covers.
My original file size for the “ebook” content was 40MB and the cover was 4MB.
My new file size for the “ebook” content is 19MB and the cover is 3MB. (reduced by half)
My original file size for the “paperback” content was 157MB and the cover was 12MB.
My new file size for the “paperback” content is 64MB and the cover is 5MB. (reduced by half)
My illustrator said the new file sizes are smaller and still have a high resolution of 300dpi, but the quality may not be as good as the original sizes. To me when I opened the large and small file sizes, it looked about the same on my Mac computer. However, I’m not sure how it will eventually look in the ebook or printed copy.
My question is: Does the file size matter only for ebook OR it matters for both ebook and paperback? Would it be better to collect 35% percent royalty for both ebook and paperback in my situation?
No Reeta, the downloads charge only applies to ebooks. You should keep the printed version in high resolution.
My latest ebook costs over 70 pence delivery, which was a bit of a shock. It is image heavy. Your blog is an interesting read. I hadn’t understood this. If I do a similar product, perhaps Smashwords is the way to go.
How about when you set it at 2.99, 70% royalties but the price on amazon.com keeps showing as 3.01. AT first I thought they were adding the delivery cost to the price but it seems that comes from my commission anyway so why the additional 2 cents?
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.
My understanding is that the file size includes the cover image. But I can’t find a 100% answer on KDP.
Based on my experience, it’s interior images only. The cover of my book is 3MB and the interior is 1MB, and I’m only getting charged USD$0.15 per sale.
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).
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!
I’m just getting into ebook authoring, but based on a lot of experience with editing photographs, I’d guess that files with images set at either 72 dpi or 300 dpi would be pretty close to the same size, if not exactly the same. A “dpi” setting does not affect the digital image at all: it merely specifies how that image should be printed out on paper. If an image has a resolution of, say, 100 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall, it will still have (100 x 200 = 20,000) pixels in it, whether it’s saved as 72 dpi or 300 dpi. if it’s never printed, then the dpi specification won’t have any meaning.
Granted, I’m an ebook newbie, and I suppose it’s possible that the conventions in ebook publishing work differently than they do with, say, photograph editing. If so, somebody else can chime in and explain how things work for ebooks.
This means better not include Mexico in ebook distribution!?
Amazon.com.mx: MXN $1/MB
i believe that’s $1 in mexican money which is about .10 cents.
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?
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.
Your stats give a good clue that it’s close to daylight robbery, Dan.
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