Amazon KDP Downloads Charge Eats At Your Ebook Royalties

KDP Delivery Costs Can Cut 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 have 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, 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 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. 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


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 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 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.

Only Amazon charges for ebook sales delivery as far as I can ascertain. It may have something to do with delivering to Kindle devices, but I really don’t know why.

Other ebook retailers 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.

You can see how quickly a few large images can affect your KDP ebook royalty.

Amazon downloads charge on KDP 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 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.

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 when you sell a copy of your book, you will earn your expected royalty.

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.

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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15 thoughts on “Amazon KDP Downloads Charge Eats At Your Ebook Royalties

  • Avatar for Reeta Mishra
    August 14, 2021 at 12:02 am

    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?

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      August 14, 2021 at 7:57 am

      No Reeta, the downloads charge only applies to ebooks. You should keep the printed version in high resolution.

  • Avatar for Susie
    June 30, 2020 at 11:45 pm

    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.

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