Is Kindle Unlimited Pay Per Page Read A Fair Deal For Authors?

Is KU Pay Per Page Read Fair For Authors

Kindle Unlimited Edition Normalized Page count (KENP) pays between $0.004 and $0.005 per page. But does Kindle Unlimited pay per page give a viable return for authors?

If you are an author, your answer is probably going to be a resounding no.

However, the reality is that Kindle Unlimited (KU) is proving to be very popular with Kindle ebook readers.

So in all likelihood, ebook subscription services and cheap reading are now very much here to stay, fair or not.

Why buy an ebook?

The days of reading one book and then buying and reading another are finished.

Now it is as many books per month that you can read for $9.99 after a one-month free trial.

In fact, a KU subscription can cost even less. The price is only $3.00 per month for Indian Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

It is an excellent bargain for avid readers who want to save money. But will it mean that authors starve for an income as a result?

There is little point in trying to calculate pay per page read against copies sold, as there is no way of knowing if a KU reader read the whole Kindle book.


Pay per page read of 187 words

The only basis to use is that Amazon calculates a page to be about 187 words.

This number was stated by Amazon a few years ago, but any reference to it has now disappeared from its site.

The only way to calculate reasonably accurately now is to divide the total word count of a book by the number of pages Amazon shows on the Kindle ebook details page.

I just did a quick check on two of my ebooks. The results were 174 and 188. So this number can vary a little.

For every 1,000 pages read, authors get between $4.00 and $5.00, which equates t0 $0.004 and $0.005 per page.

On average, Amazon pays around $4.78 per 1,000 pages.

With KENP, it doesn’t matter if the 1,000 pages were read by a couple of readers who finished the book or by 500 readers who only read a couple of pages.

It’s all about page reads per 30 days and not about books read per month.

In the end, it all boils down to the number of 187-word pages and not the number of fully read books.

Quite simply, this means that getting more readers to read more pages is the only way to increase an author’s income from readers with a Kindle Unlimited membership subscription.

Then you can add Amazon Prime Reading to the menu, where Prime members can read an ebook for free every month.

Are the days of simply selling an ebook finished?


Making ebooks more attractive to KU readers

Everyone loves a bargain.

For readers with Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscriptions with an Amazon Kindle device or using the free Kindle app, getting to read Kindle ebooks with a cover price of $5.99 is going to be far more tempting than those at $0.99.

Your ebook price in the Kindle store needs to be tempting for Kindle owners and KU users.

But at the same time, setting the price too high will dissuade ebook buyers and have a detrimental effect on your per-copy ebook sales.

Alternatively, for ebooks that don’t generally sell many copies, increasing the price may, in fact, lead to a better return from KU than from unit sales.

Another factor is naturally that the higher the ranking an ebook has, the more interest and attention it will attract. But with over a million titles available in KU, that’s a hard task.

KENP counts towards an ebook’s sales rank.

So while the return might be less than the sale of a copy, every page read helps lift your book ranking.

Again, it doesn’t matter if a reader finishes the book or if 100 readers only read a few pages.

Because of this fact, it may be worth reconsidering your free ebook promotions.

Gaining 1,000-page reads will do far more for an ebook’s ranking than giving away a few hundred free copies of your ebook.

So instead of putting a lot of marketing and promotional effort into a KDP Select free ebook period, perhaps putting the same effort into promotion aimed at Kindle Unlimted readers might be more beneficial.

When it comes to maintaining an income, authors who have their ebooks available on Kindle Unlimited will have to make smart decisions about finding a balance between the two reading markets – buyers and subscribers.


Is Kindle Unlimited pay per page fair for authors?

It doesn’t really matter if it’s fair or not for hard-working authors.

It is the new reality in ebook publishing, even for big publishers like Random House and Simon & Schuster.

With some big publishing houses starting to add their titles to Kindle Unlimited, including the Harry Potter series, The Hunger Games, and Wool, the writing is on the wall.

The only way ahead is to have your books included in KU and accept the fact and adapt.

Or, remove your ebooks from KDP Select and rely on old-fashioned ebook sales by going wide with as many ebook retailers as possible.

There is no doubt that readers find Kindle Unlimited a very attractive deal.

Why wouldn’t they with over a million books to choose from for their modest monthly subscription cost? It’s very close to as many ebooks as you can read for free.

But for authors? Even when KU can’t seem to be able to count words read accurately?

Well, you will have to make your own decision about whether Kindle Unlimited pay per page is fair and if it works for you or not.

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.

Avatar for Derek Haines

38 thoughts on “Is Kindle Unlimited Pay Per Page Read A Fair Deal For Authors?

  • Avatar for Christina Hampton
    June 3, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Does a “reborrow” and a reread a while later have an effect? If I read and returned a book in January, then reborrowed it in June – does that count as a second borrow? As a second read?

    I always assumed that if I reborrowed and reread book a few month’s later that the author would get a second royalty payment. It is taking up a valuable space in my 10 book queue. Plus, I believe libraries just go by borrows and not by who borrowed it. Do they at least get a boost in the book’s ranking?

    As a reader I’ve often wondered if the authors were getting fairly compensated – especially since I can easily plow through 20 books per month and that’s a mere $0.50 per book cost to me. I worried that they only got a fraction of my average cost per book. It’s actually a bit more comforting that it’s by pages read (and means I don’t need to feel bad that a bad author got rewarded for trash).

    KU makes my reading addiction more manageable and allows me to try a wide variety of authors and not stress so much about “buying a bad book” – if it’s bad I can return it before finishing it – I’ve only wasted time. I’ve also found a lot of great authors that I would have never even thought to try if I had to “pay” to read their books. I honestly read very little that is no KU anymore.

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      June 3, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      In answer to your question, Christina, no, authors are not paid for a second read or reborrow.

      Amazon states this is its terms for royalties for KU:

      A customer can read your eBook as many times as they like, but we will only pay you for the number of pages read the first time the customer reads them.

  • Avatar for Constantin
    May 27, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    “If you are an author, your answer is probably going to be a resounding, no.”

    Don’t really see a reason why. 5$ per 1000 pages is almost as good as selling your book directly. Let’s say your book is 500 pages and costs 3$, you are going to get only 2$ per order. Of course, if you set the cost higher it’s another thing, many authors sell their 500-pages-long books for 6$ or more, making it two times more profitable, but… you get way more visibility thanks to KU, often even doubling your ABSR. I also have a short 100-pages-long book that costs 1$, but I only get 0.30$ from each sale. With KU I get 0.5$ instead for each full read.

  • Avatar for Victoria
    April 6, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    I’m simply a reader, and also a teen. My parents bought kindle unlimited for me, and I would like to share my perspective. I am an avid reader who enjoys being transported into books very much, and I used to only be able to get books by dragging my parents to the library, coming home, then piling books at the door for my parents to take, accruing fees, etc, or browsing the library’s limited supply of ebooks. I almost never bought a book except for at book fairs, and I assume there are other teens like me, who enjoy reading, but can’t due to their inability to get to a library, or pay for every book. So I think for authors targeting people in my age range, it might be wise to stay on KU. I might be wrong, but these are my thoughts.

  • Avatar for Rose
    November 3, 2020 at 5:48 pm

    I’m a reader and have waffled on wanting to sign up for KU. I finally decided to research the issue and landed on this page. I have to say it sounds most unfair to authors, sad that Amazon doesn’t pay by the book. I’ll stick with just Prime Reads and be happy to know I’m supporting as I do buy books a lot since Prime Reads gets stale with it’s offerings.

  • Avatar for Paul Sean Grieve
    September 13, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the article. I’m considering putting my next book on Unlimited. My first novel was not widely purchased, but I got some good reviews and a lot of people downloaded it from free sources. My readers have told me they got hooked early in the story, so I imagine I might do okay when the reader can continue reading without having to buy the book. My only concern is whether readers of my genre are subscribed.

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      September 13, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      It’s difficult to know. The best way might be to look for books in your genre on Amazon and see if there are lot listed in Kindle Unlimited.

  • Avatar for TLC
    July 17, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    I want my favorite authors to continue writing, so I decided to check into the pay scale for KU. I didn’t know they were paid by page, so I will make sure I read all pages to the end. There have also been a few that I read again, and if a book warrants a second read I should definitely make sure the author is paid appropriately, by buying the book.

    • Avatar for Helen
      April 5, 2021 at 12:09 am

      This is what I do. If I really really like a book or series I will purchase it after reading even if Im not sure if or when i will read it again. If it has a great satisfaction factor I will buy it and consider it payment for a great read.


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To prevent spam, all comments are moderated and will be published upon approval. Submit your comment only once, please.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.