Will Kindle Unlimited Royalties Reduce To Near Nothing?

kindle unlimited

Amazon Kindle Unlimited royalties to authors will take a whack!

Amazon Kindle Unlimited has announced that it will charge $3.00 for Amazon Kindle Unlimited membership for Indian customers.

“As we’ve expanded KU to more countries, a number of the program’s elements – such as exchange rates, customer reading behavior, and local subscription pricing – now vary substantially by marketplace, making it clear that a ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t work.

As just one example, we recently launched KU in India with a local subscription price of ₹199 ($3.00) per month.

As a result, starting with the November fund, we will work to take these marketplace differences into account, and payouts per country will differ based on local country factors.”

Let me repeat that again. $3.00 per month for Kindle Unlimited!

That’s less than the average price for one ebook sale!

Okay, so $9.99 was a minimal line in the sand KU subscription price for authors to make a return on Amazon Kindle Unlimited earnings from the KDP Select Global Fund.

But how in the name of sanity can authors expect to earn anything more than peanuts with a subscription service fee of $3.00?

At $9.99, authors make around half a cent a page. But at $3.00, it will have to mean less than 0.002 cents per page. If that is not a page rate close to nothing, I don’t know what is.

Sure, the Indian market is a lot different from the US or UK book market, and India has a LOT of readers. But at $3.00 per month, where is Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription heading?

Will we have $0.99 monthly membership for Amazon Kindle Unlimited in Zimbabwe because they can’t afford anything more?

Australia is having it tough in the mining industry at the moment, with plenty of people losing their jobs. So why not reduce Amazon Kindle Unlimited membership for them to say $4.99.

I mean, they are becoming unemployed quite quickly, so they will have plenty of time to read.

I’m lucky to live in Switzerland, where the living wage is more than three times that of the US.

So should I pay $29.99 per month for Amazon Kindle Unlimited membership?

Authors would be happy, though, because they would probably earn one and a half cents per page read from their writing.

To return to sanity now, though. $9.99 per month for Amazon Kindle Unlimited is on the very limit of a subscription model that can reward and pay authors with any degree of fairness.

But at $3.00? Well, do your own math on the pay per page read.

I wrote that The Self-Publishing Train Wreck Is Upon Us.

But really, with this announcement from Amazon Kindle Unlimited, perhaps the train wreck is turning into the great self-publishing author train robbery.

What comes next?

Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscriptions based on the Bhutan Gross National Happiness Index?

Then readers could have their Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription for free because they would be exceedingly happy about it.

Give me a break.

More reading: Kindle Unlimited Has A Problem – It Can’t Count Words

Derek Haines

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

6 thoughts on “Will Kindle Unlimited Royalties Reduce To Near Nothing?

  • April 19, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    Ku pays out relative to the county.
    the rate for US pages reads is different from the rate for UK reads.
    the rate for India would be different again.
    essentially it opens up a new market in India, the largest English speaking country in the world with a population of over 1 billion …
    so, its a new market, and a revenue steam that did not exist before .
    it a lower price, but then average earnings are much lower, disposable income is much lower, so a 3 dollar ebook in India is expensive comparatively
    Most US and European authors do sell much in India due to our books being comparatively expensive.
    so a market we don’t sell in, is going to be opened up for us to sell in it and has a possible billion readers… if it pays a third of the per page royalty as the US I think that is something we can live with, rather than sell nothing….
    give me 100k page reads in India and I assure you I will be very happy …

  • January 18, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Subscription services have never and will never be good for authors. They condition the most avid readers (ie, the big book buyers) to spend pennies instead of dollars. As long as authors are more worried about a quick buck than long term industry health earnings will continue to spiral down.

  • June 2, 2016 at 6:04 am

    .002 x 1,000,000,000

    I’ll take it with a smile.

  • January 16, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    All the more reason for authors to consider going to wide distribution (Smashwords or D2D) if KU reduces payments too much.

    It may not be popular, but this is why writers need to treat writing as a business – just like Amazon does.

  • November 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Amazon is going fishing – obviously the take-up at the old price point being insufficient, they are trying another. It’s called business.

  • November 2, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Good point Derek. The counter argument would probably be that the low subscription costs would lure more readers into subscribing to Kindle Unlimited. That, in turn, would result in more pages read and result in an increase in page volumes, making up for the reduced per page royalty. In the perfect world it would – not so sure about the real world.

    I am pretty sure the royalty payout model was shifted from borrows to pages read, specifically in preparation for the KU launch in India. It would not have been a sustainable model in India if KU was based on borrows rather than pages read. Even with payout based on pages read, I am sure the sheer volume of pages read by Indian KU subscribers has prompted the thought – “payouts per country will differ based on local country factors”.


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