The KENP per-page rate for Kindle Unlimited dropped down to $0.004754 for the month of January, 2017.
But I’m not worried:
The per-page rate (and Prime borrows before that) generally take a noticeable dip in January. It’s not a surprise. (What’s a surprise is that it didn’t drop in December.)
The per-page rate in January, 2017 is much higher than it was in January, 2016. It was at an all-time low of $0.00411 one year ago. Compared to the previous January, $0.004754 is sweet.
The per-page rate has been fairly consistent. It was over half a penny per page for a few months in a row, at a lengthy relative high, and before that, $0.004754 would have seemed like a good number. Again, it’s typical to see a drop in January, so I wouldn’t panic.
The KDP Select Global Fund hit a new high, climbing up to $17.8M for January (from $16.8M in December). It’s also typical to see the Global Fund rise in January. It’s a good sign: Amazon paid $1M more than usual, which shows that Kindle Unlimited is holding strong.
The per-page rate has held fairly stable for half a year, between $0.0045 and $0.0050 per page.
The per-page rate has risen as high as 5% on multiple occasions. So while it occasionally dips as much as 5%, it rises almost as often.
There was a tendency for the per-page rate to dip initially, which also happened when Prime borrows were first introduced, and also happened when Kindle Unlimited was first introduced, but both of those programs stabilized after the first handful of months. It appears that Kindle Unlimited v2.0 has finally reached a point of stability.
Kindle Unlimited is thriving. Amazon is paying $15M per month in royalties just for pages read (and that’s on top of All-Star bonuses). The KDP Select Global Fund is still on the rise.
Since the Global Fund continues to rise, whereas the per-page rate appears to have stabilized, it looks like the Kindle Unlimited program continues to grow.
The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate improved nearly 4% up to $0.00495663 for April, 2016. (Compare this to $0.00477885 for March, 2016.)
This is up 21% over January’s rate of $0.00411. A nice trend.
The KDP Select Global Fund held steady at $14.9M for April, 2016 (identical to March).
The improved per-page rate and steady global fund are positive indicators. The nearly $15M per month global fund is a huge amount paid out in royalties to indie authors (and that’s on top of royalties for sales). The per-page rate has almost returned to half a penny per page. When many critics have predicted a drop below $0.004 to come fast, the payment has nearly returned to $0.005.
These trends are consistent with seasonal effects of the original Kindle Unlimited version as well as the original Prime KOLL borrows back before Kindle Unlimited was introduced. The payments for borrows were always lower during the holidays and increased significantly afterward.
In other countries:
United Kingdom: £0.00315 per page (British pounds).
The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate held steady at $0.00477885 for March, 2016. It’s nearly identical to the $0.00479 for February, 2016.
Both February and March are up considerably (about 17%) over January’s rate of $0.00411.
So it’s nice to see the per-page rate hold steady at about $0.0048 per page.
There is more good news: The KDP Select Global Fund increased to $14.9M for March, 2016, up 6% from February’s $14M.
This combination is a good sign. Ordinarily, the Global Fund increases when the per-page rate decreases, and the Global Fund decreases when the per-page rate increases. The per-page rate and Global Fund usually exhibit inverse behavior, as shown here.
This time, the per-page rate held steady while the Global Fund increased 6%. Amazon paid $900,000 more in March compared to February, and they paid it at the same per-page rate.
What does this mean? It means that more pages were read in March, and Amazon didn’t reduce the per-page rate to compensate. It’s probably a sign of more Kindle Unlimited subscriptions.
With KDP Select books earning $14.9M in royalties per month just from Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows, it’s clear that Kindle Unlimited has become a huge market. Any book not enrolled in KDP Select is missing out on this $15M per month market share, and needs to make up the difference through other venues. Not an easy task, though sales and even borrows usually don’t come easily.
The Kindle Unlimited market itself is highly competitive, with 1.3M books vying for a share of the approximately $15M monthly Global Fund. (But vying against 1.3M books for a slice of $15M is better than vying against 4.4M e-books for sales. The market for sales is much tougher than the market for borrows. The borrows actually help with potential sales, as each borrow helps sales rank.)
This means the average KDP Select book earns about $11 per month from borrows ($15M divided by 1.3M books), though hardly any books actually draw in this exact average. The top books, the KDP Select All-Stars, see a million or more pages read in many cases.
If your book gets over 2300 pages read per month, it’s doing better than the average KDP Select book. (That’s how many pages read it takes to earn the average $11 per month.)
A few other countries:
United Kingdom: £0.00303 per page (British pounds). Almost identical to February.
Amazon presently pays about one million dollars (perhaps a little more, depending on exchange rates) in KDP Select All-Star Bonuses based on KENP pages read during the month (books must be claimed through Author Central to be eligible):
$500,000 is awarded to the top 100 authors for US pages read: $25,000 to the top 10, $10,000 to the 11th thru 20th, $5,000 to the 21st thru 30th, $2500 to the 31st thru 50th, and $1000 to the 51st thru 100th.
$90,000 is awarded to the top 100 books for US pages read: $2500 to the top 10, $1000 to the 11th thru 50th, and $500 to the 51st thru 100th. (It pays better to be a top author than to have a top book.)
£77,500 is awarded to the top 100 authors for UK pages read: £2000 to the top 10, £1500 to the 11th thru 20th, £750 to the 21st thru 30th, and £500 to the 31st thru 100th. (The US pays much better bonuses than the UK.)
£20,000 is awarded to the top 100 books for UK pages read: £500 to the top 10, £250 to the 11th thru 50th, and £100 to the 51st thru 100th.
€310,000 is awarded to the top 100 authors for DE pages read: €7500 to the top 10, €5000 to the 11th thru 20th, €3500 to the 21st thru 30th, €2500 to the 31st thru 50th, €1500 to the 51st thru 100th, and €500 to the 100th thru 150th. (Germany pays very well, and even pays 50 additional authors.)
€50,000 is awarded to the top 100 books for DE pages read: €750 to the top 10, €500 to the 11th thru 50th, and €250 to the 51st thru 100th.
$31,250 is awarded to the top 100 illustrated kids’ books (as Amazon deems eligible) for pages read in the US: $1000 to the top 5, $750 to the 6th thru 10th, $500 to the 11th thru 30th, $250 to the 31st thru 50th, and 150 to the 51st thru 100th.
£2500 is awarded to the top 100 illustrated kids’ books (as Amazon deems eligible) for pages read in the UK: £100 to the top 25.
These books and authors are already earning good money for the pages read (many of these are in the millions of pages read per month), and that’s on top of sales.
Amazon obviously throws in this incentive to encourage the top authors to keep their books enrolled in KDP Select.
You’re probably wondering: If Amazon didn’t pay roughly one million dollars in All-Star Bonuses, what impact would that have on the per-page rate? In January, it would have raised the per-page rate from $0.0041 to $0.0043. It’s probably worth it to attract the most read indie authors and books into the program, as they help to attract customers to Kindle Unlimited.
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.
NOT A BIG SURPRISE IN THE PER PAGE RATE
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.
THE FUTURE OF KINDLE UNLIMITED
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.
KENP PAGES READ BY COUNTRY
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.
(Please also take the survey at the bottom of this post, regarding how your KENPC has changed. You can view the results after you take the survey.)
As of February 1, 2016, Amazon changed the way that they calculate KENPC for pages read for KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.
To check your KENPC v2.0, go to your KDP Bookshelf and click the Promote & Advertise button.
According to Amazon, on average the change is within ± 5%, but some books are outside of 5% (I’ve heard a couple upwards of 30%).
Many authors are reporting the changes in their KENPC on Kindle Boards, the KDP community forum, and all over the internet.
I have several books, and most of mine are virtually unchanged.
But while I’ve heard from others whose KENPC remained the same, only a few authors are reporting an increase, while several authors are reporting a drop of 5% or more (like 10% to 15%) or occasionally much more (like 20% to 30%).
Perhaps authors who see a large drop are more likely to show up to a community forum and provide feedback, or are more likely to blog about it.
It’s a general rule that people are more likely to take time to express a complaint than to take time to offer praise.
If we believe Amazon’s report that on average the change to KENPC is less than ±5%, then a drop of 10% or less shouldn’t happen to the majority of books.
If your KENPC remained the same, if anything it seems like KENPC v2.0 should help you out a little.
If your KENPC increased, you should jump for joy.
IF YOUR KENPC DROPPED, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
You should look for a proactive solution to your situation. I will offer a couple of suggestions.
If complaining relieves a little stress, well I suppose there is a little good in that. But just complaining, that’s probably not going to solve your problem. (Discussing the problem with others and thinking about the issue critically, however, might lead to a helpful solution.)
If your KENPC v2.0 is exactly 1 page, but used to be multiple digits, it may be a mistake. At least two authors have reported that their novels’ KENPC were reduced to 1 page. That’s most likely just a glitch in the system. If that happened to you, contact KDP support and cross your fingers. (This is a good reason to check your KENPC. Make sure it didn’t happen to you.)
First, you should project what impact this change might make on your royalties.
Find the percentage change: (new KENPC – old KENPC) divided by (old KENPC) times 100%. Example: (380–400)÷400×100%=–5%. (The minus sign means it dropped. If your KENPC increased, then your percentage will be +, in which case you should be happy.)
How many pages were read in December for that book?
Multiply the percentage change by the number of pages read by that book in December and divide by 100%. Formula: (% change) × (# pages read) ÷ 100%. Example: –5%×8,000÷100%=–400.
Multiply by $0.0046 (based on the recent per-page rate in the US). Example: –400×$0.0046=–$1.84.
How significant is this number to you? (Suggestion: Compare it to your overall royalties.)
Realize that this projection is based on previous per-page rates. If the KENPC has dropped for most books, on average (that’s a big IF), it’s possible that the per-page rate will go up a bit. But it’s probably not realistic to expect the per-page rate for February to go up by more than 5% (unless other factors contribute to the change), since on average the KENPC hasn’t changed by more than 5%. But you can’t bank on the per-page to increase. It might not.
The main thing you can control is whether or not to uncheck the auto-renewal box for KDP Select (and then you must still wait for the enrollment period to end before you publish your e-book elsewhere). If you’re losing money because either (A) your KENPC has dropped significantly or (B) the per-page rates have dropped significantly (but remember, we don’t “know” what the per-page rates might look like following this change), then the big question to ask is…
Could you make more money by publishing with Nook, Kobo, Smashwords (or Draft2Digital), Apple, etc. than you are bringing from borrows through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime?
That’s a tough question to answer, and varies from book to book. I know authors who have opted out and quickly returned, but I also know a few authors who found success outside of KDP Select. It helps if you have a marketing plan to reach customers who read books on Nook, Kobo, etc. (but it’s not easy to do).
A few other things to consider:
Every borrow through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime helps your sales rank.
Most Kindle Unlimited customers probably won’t find and buy your book if it’s not in Kindle Unlimited.
The KDP Select Global Fund is currently $12M for February, and the pot has steadily increased every month. Kindle Unlimited does have a large reader base.
Kindle Unlimited customers are, in general, supportive to indie authors.
But there are also now 1.2M books in Kindle Unlimited, with nearly 50,000 added in the last month. It’s also getting more competitive. But there were also 96,000 books added to the Kindle Store last month, so sales are even more competitive.
About half the books added to the Kindle Store are exclusive to Amazon, so there may be reduced competition at Nook, Kobo, etc. (It may also be harder to break into some markets at those venues.)
Each audience is different. What you really want to know is whether you can successfully reach your audience beyond just Kindle.
I’m afraid the only surefire way to “know” how your book would do outside of Kindle is to try it out. It might work out, it might not.
But there probably is a magic number, where if your royalties for borrows drops too much, you’ll be willing to try it out.
If you had an extreme drop in KENPC, like 20% or more, and you really want out of KDP Select, you might consider contacting KDP support. Amazon usually provides an opt-out clause when there are significant changes to the terms. While most books are seeing smaller changes, if you experienced a steep change, you might be able to persuade support that you weren’t prepared for such a drastic change, and ask if you could please opt out immediately. Well, it can’t hurt to ask, if that’s what you want.
One other thing you might do is see if you can learn why your KENPC dropped. It may not be easy. You’ll need data from other authors. Besides just comparing KENPC’s, you’ll need to find out about the nature of the book. For example, are there many quotations or short paragraphs in books that saw a significant drop in KENPC (I’m not suggesting this is the case; I’m saying you would need to think of possible explanations and test them out; this is just one you would want to test). One trick is you also want data from authors’ whose KENPC increased, to see if the same theory will explain all of the data.
But even if you succeed in learning why the KENPC changed the way it did, it may not be possible to use this knowledge to increase your KENPC. There probably isn’t a simple solution, if KENPC v2.0 successfully prevents people from gaming the system. But if there happened to be some factor that penalizes books for some particular feature and you happened to learn what that was, well you could benefit from that.
Many books tend to see a drop in both sales and borrows once they reach a certain age on the market, and the solution is usually to keep writing and publishing, and learn effective marketing strategies. Whether or not you remain in KDP Select, writing and publishing more books as well as marketing are the keys to long-term success.
(My KENPC’s are almost identical to what they had been, so I feel fortunate. As I said, not everyone’s KENPC has dropped, and I’ve even heard of a few increases.)
DID AMAZON INCREASE ITS PROFITS BY REDUCING THE KENPC?
The KDP Select Global Fund for February is $12M.
No matter how Amazon calculates KENPC, determines KENP pages read, or how much Amazon pays per page in February, Amazon is still paying out at least $12M in royalties for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.
So this does not appear to impact profits for February.
The KDP Select Global Fund has steadily increased from $11.5M to $13.5M from July thru December of 2015.
The KDP Select Global Fund has committed $12M for February, which makes sense, as December and January are likely to benefit more from holiday Kindle sales.
But there are some things that we don’t know:
We don’t know what the KDP Select Global Fund will do starting in March. It’s possible that the KDP Select Global Fund will start diminishing. But then again, that’s always been possible.
We don’t know how many customers subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. If Amazon is selling more subscriptions at a faster rate than the KDP Select Global Fund is increasing, then Amazon is increasing its profits. But they could have been doing that all along. How are we to know?
It’s possible that the KENPC has dropped a few % overall so that Amazon could prevent the per-page rate from dropping further (or maybe even increase it a little). But the number that affects Amazon’s profits is the KDP Select Global Fund. Whether they increase or decrease the KENPC, they are still paying $12M overall in February. Changing the KENPC just affects the per-page rate and how the $12M is distributed; it doesn’t impact Amazon’s share at all.
Here’s my own personal opinion: KENPC v2.0 was introduced to help prevent authors from gaming the system, and it unfortunately affects everyone’s books in different ways.
(It’s also possible that Amazon is losing money on Kindle Unlimited, at least directly. This program might be a loss leader. Once customers get in the habit of coming Amazon, they start buying other products at Amazon, too.
That’s an important consideration. The main thing Amazon probably wants to do with Kindle Unlimited is keep both readers and authors engaged. Amazon may make much more profits by getting both readers and authors in the habit of visiting Amazon regularly than it could make by adjusting KENPC or per-page rates.)
PLEASE TAKE THIS QUICK KENPC SURVEY
Have multiple books? You can take the survey once for each book.
Amazon KDP changed how it determines the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC).
This affects Kindle e-books enrolled in KDP Select, which can be borrowed via Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime.
KDP Select books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime pay by the page read, where a Kindle Edition Normalized Page (KENP) is determined based on the book’s KENPC.
(This has no impact on royalties earned through sales, just borrows.)
On February 1, 2016, the method that Amazon uses to compute the KENPC changed.
The new value of KENPC is called KENPC v2.0.
Visit your KDP Bookshelf and click the Promote and Advertise button next to a title to see what its new KENPC is.
According to Amazon, on average the KENPC has changed by 5% or less.
I checked several of my books, which had KENPC’s ranging from 170 to 2039, and the KENPC v2.0 was nearly identical to the original KENPC.
So my books were virtually unaffected by this. I’m curious about your experience with the KENPC change. Is it significant?
One notable change reported by Amazon is that books with a KENPC exceeding 3000 will now be capped at 3000. (When a customer reads 100% of those extremely long books, the author actually earns more from a single book read than the monthly subscription cost.) This only affects a few books, like encyclopedias (which could be broken down into smaller pieces…).
If you want to read the KDP help page describing KENPC v2.0, you can find it here: