Kindle Unlimited KENP per Page Rate DROP January, 2016

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Background image from ShutterStock.


The KENP pages read rate has reached a record low, paying $0.00411 per page in the United States.

That’s a drop of 11% from the December payout. That’s a substantial change for just one month.

But it’s a drop of 29% from the first month of Kindle Unlimited v2 from July’s $0.0058 per page rate. That’s a much larger drop when put in the long-term perspective.

However, there was also a record high set in January, 2016, with the KDP Select Global Fund reaching $15 million.

That’s a rise of 11% over December’s Global Fund.

And it’s a rise of 30% compared to July. This means that Amazon is paying 30% more money in Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) royalties than when v2 started.

The KENP per-page rate has consistently dropped, while the KDP Select Global Fund has consistently risen, and by approximately the same percentages (one down, the other up).

Two are main effects going hand-in-hand:

  • More pages are being read through Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) every month. ← This is definitely a plus.
  • Amazon KDP is paying a little less for each page read every month. ← This is a minus.


The numbers for January, 2016 actually make sense:

  • Amazon sold a record number of Kindle Fire devices on Black Friday.
  • Many customers took advantage of the free trial month.
  • Amazon included free Kindle Unlimited subscriptions during a few of their promotions.
  • Amazon discounted Kindle Unlimited subscriptions during some of their promotions.
  • Some promotions targeted Amazon Prime.

Therefore, we could have predicted:

  • an increase in the number of Kindle Unlimited (and Amazon Prime) subscribers
  • a large increase in the number of pages read
  • many more pages read where Amazon didn’t earn more money from the monthly subscription

Yes, FREE has benefits, but it also has a cost:

  • Those free trial months bring readers, but it costs Amazon money.
  • Those free subscriptions packaged with Kindles during rare promotions bring many more customers and pages read, but it costs Amazon a lot of money.
  • Those discounted subscriptions entice more subscribers, but cost Amazon a little money.

(Amazon ordinarily earns 30% or more on the sale of a KDP Select e-book. What percentage do they earn from borrows? We have no idea. It could be more than 30%. It could be less. Amazon could even take a loss with KDP Select, using it as a loss leader, expecting those regular Amazon customers to buy other products. We don’t know.)

The promotions worked: There were more subscribers and pages read. That’s why Amazon paid an extra $1.5 million compared to December.

But it’s probably not realistic to expect Amazon to absorb 100% of the cost. They passed some of that cost onto the authors, dropping the KENP per-page rate 11%.

Amazon has made Kindle Unlimited viable and substantial. Paying $15 million dollars in royalties each month, that’s a significant share of the e-book market.

And many of those Kindle Unlimited subscribers have taken a chance on indie e-books. This aspect is good for indies.


I doubt it’s a coincidence that KENPC v2.0 rolled out the month after the KENP per-page rate hit a record low.

Remember, KENPC v2.0 kicked in for February; it had no impact on January’s payout.

If you saw a significant decrease to your KENPC (but realize that actually increased for a few books), that drop on top of the 11% drop for January may seem scary.

Maybe the KENPC upgrade was put in place to help keep the KENP per-page rate from dropping further.

Maybe the per-page rate will actually go up somewhat for February. Probably, some of those free trial months won’t be renewed. The KENPC change may help a little.

Maybe, also, if Amazon is trying to help the per-page rate for the future, they are looking at ways that a few authors or publishers may have been trying to take advantage of the system. Maybe Amazon will help limit that: This could be part of the reason that the KENPC has changed. They might also change the way that KENP pages read are counted (to try to prevent anyone from gaming the system too much).

These are a lot of MAYBE’s. And even if it does rise in February, we will left to wonder if it will start dropping again after that. We are on a downward trend.

If the per-page rate drops too much, down to whatever your magic number is, the question you need to ask is whether you can do better outside of KDP Select than you can inside. It’s not an easy question to answer, and it varies from one author and even one book to the next. (Keep in mind that every borrow helps your sales rank, which is one thing you’ll lose if you switch to the other side.)

We haven’t reached my magic number yet. But I wouldn’t mind if we didn’t dip below $0.004…

Sure, I’d love it if Amazon would pay more per page. But Amazon didn’t ask for my opinion. They offered me a choice: Enroll in KDP Select, or opt out. I enrolled, and I still prefer this option for my books.

But I’m also glad that Amazon promoted Kindle Unlimited, offers free monthly trials, and promoted subscriptions and Kindle devices this holiday season.

If Amazon had given me a choice—do none of those things and leave the per-page rate at $0.0046 per page, or do all of those things and drop the per-page rate 11%—I would have happily accepted the 11% drop. Not everyone will feel that way. But I do.

On the other hand, it started at $0.0058 back in July, and now it’s 29% less, down to $0.0041. I sure would like to see it stop going down…

It will be interested to see how it pays in February and beyond.


Here are the pages read payouts for a handful of countries:

  • United States: $0.00411 per page (US dollars). That’s a drop of 11% from December’s payment of $0.00461.
  • United Kingdom: £0.00262 per page (British pounds). That’s also a drop of 14% from December’s £0.00306.
  • Canada: $0.00476 per page (Canadian dollars).
  • Spain: €0.00408 per page (Euro).
  • India: ₹0.1008 per page (Indian rupees). That’s nearly identical to December.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

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

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22 comments on “Kindle Unlimited KENP per Page Rate DROP January, 2016

  1. My pages read have increased remarkably since the program began so I’m not going to worry about the drop…yet. I look at Kindle Unlimited Pages Read as an added bonus to my Kindle sales. I agree that it brings more readers to indie authors and as you mentioned, Chris, it helps with the sales ranks. But I do hope it doesn’t drop further.

  2. Pingback: Kindle Unlimited KENP per Page Rate DROP January, 2016 | The GUNDERSTONE review

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  4. Bottom line is that it’s free to publish on Kindle and free to put your book on Kindle Inlimited. If it’s free, actually you are the product. I expect Amazon will be making on the whole system, averaged across both publishers (authors) and readers. I also doubt that more than a handful of those publishers (authors) will make any really substantial money.

    • The all-stars are evidently in the million pages read category, plus they receive a nifty bonus. It seems to depend strongly on the type of book. In some genres, some authors earn more from pages read than sales. My nonfiction books earn much more from sales, but overall my Kindle sales are up 400% since the new pages read program was introduced. But my experience probably isn’t typical.

      • I have part of my non-fic back-list up on Kindle – I figure I was already ‘paid’ for that so whatever follows is a bonus. I agree: genre rules. It’s been interesting to watch the sales rating rise on the back of page-reads, but it hasn’t particularly helped total sales.

  5. There was a point under the old system where novelists balked. I think it was $1.40, and then Amazon kept bouncing around that number. I wonder if there’s a per-page point where novelists will start saying no? Maybe when a 300 page novel earns less than $1.40 when fully read?

    I like your justifications for Amazon’s actions (holiday trial subscriptions). But didn’ts Amazon offer deals in recent years? Did the KU payouts bounce back hard after the December and January months?

  6. I guess I’m beating a dead horse again, but even at 0.0038 KENPC, the payout is more PER UNIT than I earned as legacy published in category romance. When I promote wisely, my units earn $$$. When I don’t promote, units lie fallow. The market is tight. It is still there and I think healthy. Since KENP started I have not seen less than 100,000 pages read across my titles. When a unit is in promotion, I see between 500,000 to 840,000 KENP. I am so not a best selling author. I have to scramble for sales and borrows. If my reviews are anything to go by, those new KU subscribers are downloading books–which is a new reading audience for indies to tap into.

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    • Hello, cherryreads: The answer is: NO. No way to calculate any magic numbers. The bottom line is: My experience is: An indie author must promote a book to get it visible and in reader’s hands, no matter the sales venue.
      Finding Home

    • The only way to know for sure is to try it both ways, since results can vary considerably from one author to another, even one book to the next. The magic number is more of a personal feeling, i.e. everyone has a value where they are thinking, if it goes below this, I’m going to give wider distribution a shot. (For some that may have already passed, but that’s a tiny number percentagewise.)

      It also depends on other factors, such as if you’re getting effective use out of the Countdown Deals or advertising option, how many books you have, etc. I guess this question could lead to an article of its own.🙂

      • Thank you for your answer, Chris. I appreciate all your analysis on KU. I was wondering since you referred to your own “magic number” in your article, but I guess it’s really a matter of declining overall income rather than the actual payment per page. Since other membership booksellers have gone under, it will interesting to see if Amazon’s KU can remain profitable.

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  10. This the problem where you have complete lack of transparency. Its hard to believe that Amazon are taking more of a loss than the authors. They are a business after all, and it’s all about their bottom line at the end of the day. Everything they do is aimed at benefiting the customer, not in the interests of the author. I believe they look after their top performing authors because they bring in the money. Its only fair. I also think they are trying to weed out the trash big time with all their recent measures… they have to , to keep all their new customers subscribed. Which ultimately is better for the serious writers.

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