Kindle Unlimited Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) pays between $0.004 and $0.005 per page, but is this 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.
As many books as you can read for $9.99 per month after a one-month free trial, and even less in some markets, is a bargain for hungry readers who want to save money, but will it mean that authors are starved of income as a result?
There is little point 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.
The only basis to use is that Amazon calculates a page to be about 187 words and for every 1,000 pages read; authors get between $4.00 and $5.00. Last month Amazon paid $4.78 per 1,000 pages.
With KENPC, 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 about page reads per 30 days and not about books per month.
In the end, it is all boils down to the number of 187-word pages and not the number of ebooks.
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 subscription.
So, how can you make your ebooks more attractive to KU readers?
Everyone loves a bargain, and for KU readers with a Kindle device or using free Kindle reading apps, getting to read an ebook with a cover price of $5.99 is going to be far more tempting than one at $0.99.
Your ebook price in the Kindle store needs to be tempting for 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, that’s a hard task.
KENPC 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 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. So instead of putting a lot of marketing and promotional effort into a free ebook period, perhaps putting the same effort into promotion aimed at KU readers might be more beneficial.
In the end, though, to maintain 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.
So, is Kindle Unlimited fair for authors?
It doesn’t really matter if it’s fair or not. It’s the new reality. With major publishers starting to add their titles to KU, 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 and rely on old-fashioned ebook sales by going wide with as many retailers as possible.