* Kindle Unlimited is on FIRE *

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.


Kindle Unlimited has me excited:

  • Amazon is implementing major improvements (depending on your perspective) to how the program works for authors.
  • The KDP Select Global Fund continues to grow. The current amount and Amazon’s projections for the next two months are looking nice.
  • Amazon released some favorable news about how Kindle Unlimited is doing so far in 2015.


Amazon is changing how authors are paid for Kindle Unlimited borrows.

The new policy goes into effect July 1, 2015. June, which is already underway, won’t be affected by these changes.

How is Kindle Unlimited policy changing?

  • Authors will now be paid based on the total number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited (evidently, Amazon Prime, too).
  • Authors will not be paid based on the total number of borrows.
  • The magic 10% mark will become irrelevant.
  • Beginning July 1, every book will have a Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), which may differ from the estimated page count that you see on your Amazon product page.
  • The KENPC will be used to count how many pages a Kindle Unlimited customer reads. It will count from the start reading location when the customer opens the book.
  • The KDP Select Global Fund for the month will be divided by the total number pages read through the Kindle Unlimited program.
  • Every book enrolled in Kindle Unlimited will be paid based on this ratio.
  • You can see an example here, worked out by Amazon. (The numbers are probably not quite realistic.)
  • All-Star books and KDP Select authors will be awarded based on the total number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited.

Of course, this has no bearing on ordinary sales, only books borrows through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.

What does this mean?

  • If one customer reads a 10-page short story and another customer reads a 500-page novel completely, they no longer pay equal royalties through Kindle Unlimited. In my example, the 500-page novel will receive 50 times as much royalty as the 10-page story.
  • If a customer only reads 5 pages of your book, you get paid based on 5 pages, not based on the total length of your book.
  • You no longer have to worry about customers reaching the magic 10% mark. Well, you do have to worry about how many pages they read.
  • List price doesn’t factor into it. It doesn’t matter whether your list price is 99 cents or $9.99; it only matters how much the customer reads when borrowing through Kindle Unlimited.
  • Short books no longer have an advantage by getting customers to reach the 10% mark sooner (since the 10% mark no longer matters).
  • Authors of short books are likely to see a huge drop in their Kindle Unlimited royalties.
  • Authors of very long books for which customers tend to read most of the book are likely to see a huge improvement in their Kindle Unlimited royalties.
  • A page is a page is a page. Quality only factors into it insofar as it entices the customer to keep reading more pages. All pages (as determined through KENPC) pay the same in Kindle Unlimited.


KOLL borrows paid $1.35 for May, 2015, which is right on target for how KOLL has paid in 2015.

However, moving forward, this really doesn’t matter. Starting in July 2015, KOLL will pay by the number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited, and so the payout will change dramatically.

But there is good news!

  • While the KOLL borrow didn’t change much, the KDP Select Global Fund continues to grow.
  • Amazon added a whopping $7.8 million to the $3 KDP Select Global Fund, bringing the payout to $10.8 million for May, 2015.
  • Amazon projects a KDP Select Global Fund in excess of $11 million for both July and August (when the new program terms take effect).
  • That huge $11,000,000 payout for July and August will be divided up based on page count, not the number of books borrowed.


And that’s not all!

  • Guess how much KDP Select authors are making just from their Kindle Unlimited borrows for the first half of 2015? $60,000,000! That’s huge. KDP Select is a very significant share of the e-book market. (If you read any reports of how e-book sales are down, look closely to see if they are ignoring Kindle Unlimited. They shouldn’t be, but some companies like to do just that.)
  • Total royalties of KDP Select authors are approximately double compared to last year. Kindle Unlimited continues to grow.
  • Each month, at least 95% of the KDP Select books enrolled in Kindle Unlimited renew their enrollment. (I can confirm this independently, as I’ve checked on it myself.)

Kindle Unlimited isn’t for every book, and it requires giving up exclusivity, but it’s looking better and better. All of my books are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. I’m a Kindle Unlimited subscriber myself and read several full-length novels per month.

Write happy, be happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Chris McMullen

Copyrightย ยฉ 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

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35 comments on “* Kindle Unlimited is on FIRE *

  1. I don’t have Select, Unlimited or Scout…but may go there in the future. I’m curious though, about non-fiction. When books like some of yours, are used as reference books and the reader might sit down and read a chapter here and there, how do they determine percent? Can they actually count the number of pages read when someone is thumbing through to selectively read what interests them at that moment?

      • It’s all weird to me. How do they know what pages I have actually read without reading my mind. I have received books, and scrolled through the entire book without having read ten paragraphs, didn’t like what I read and tossed it. And I have reference books that are invaluable to me for one or two chapters, which contain thirty I have never bothered to read because they don’t apply to my situation.

      • It will at least show which pages were shown on the screen.

        Some the invaluable nonfiction books actually get purchased by KU customers, which helps to compensate for times when only a few chapters are read. My books are nonfiction, yet I’m content with it.

  2. What about the pages read in the “Look Inside” and “Sample” features prior to downloading the book? Those won’t count unless the reader reads through those pages again, right? I never reread those pages. Ever.

  3. Pingback: Chris McMullen: * Kindle Unlimited is on FIRE * | The Linden Chronicles: The Wolf's Moon by Patrick Jones

  4. This is great news. Amazon seems to be trying to tweak the program until they find out what works best, and this really looks like it’s going to be great for most authors. I’m sure there are still some bugs to work out and questions that need answers, but I can’t wait to see how it works.

    I just put two of my books back into Select last month, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out for me, especially since my books are more novella-length.

  5. Has anyone asked this question: How will KU/KOLL count pages and pay royalties if a reader drags reading out over a lengthy period, like consuming 50 pages this month, another 50 the next month?

  6. Pingback: Breaking down the new Kindle Unlimited payout terms | Tracing the Stars

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