New ways authors are finding of cheating Amazon’s Kindle lending systems

After finishing a rather dreadful boxed set of ebooks that I recently downloaded for free, I simply had to write this article.

The basics of KDP Select

For those of you not familiar with the KDP Select system, Amazon offers not only to publish your ebook for free and have it available on their website, but they have a programme called KDP Select that you can enrol your book in for extra features and possibly extra downloads.

I won’t go into every aspect of how KDP Select works for an author as I am saving that for when I report on my experience with it, for now I will only talk about the Kindle Unlimited bit (or Kindle Lending Library)

The entire time a book is enrolled in KDP Select it is available to ‘borrow’ for those people who have signed up for Kindle Unlimited for free.  Unlike listing your book as a free download, you actually get paid for these lends.

How an author gets paid through Kindle Unlimited (the Kindle Lending Library)

Each month, Amazon looks at how many people have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited (they pay a monthly fee) and sets a global fund amount for payments to authors.  At the end of the month authors get paid a portion of the global fund depending on how many pages of their books have been borrowed and read in that month.

In this way, an author gets approximately $1.70/£1 for each book they lend (provided it is a full length novel)

Before June 2015 authors were paid a set price per book, irrelevant of length, once 10% of that book had been read by whoever downloaded it.  Sounds great doesn’t it?  But there were authors who flaunted the system.  By producing short books, sometimes only 10 pages long, authors were being paid the full amount when only one or two pages were read, or in some cases as soon as the book was opened on a Kindle.  This meant that authors of full length works were missing out.

Amazon decided to put a stop to this in June 2015 and changed the way that Authors were paid.  Now, when a book is downloaded, the author is paid according to the number of pages that a lender has actually read-Yes, Amazon really does know that much about you from your Kindle device!

The new system was supposed to be much fairer and simply means that a 300 page novel is paid ten times more than a 30 page booklet.  Well, that’s what was supposed to happen anyway.

The new way that authors are boosting their payments.

Wanting to read other books in the same genre as my own (to check out the competition like you do), I downloaded a selection of free books a few weeks ago.  Four of them were compendiums of stories, bundles as they are called, from the same author/publishing house-I did not know this at the time.  Now all of these books were free and I am not a member of Kindle Unlimited so my downloads will have made the author/publishing house no money at all.  However, all of these books were in the Kindle Unlimited programme, so had I been a member I could have downloaded them through there and the author would have been paid.

Here’s the con – None of these books has a contents page.  They are just printed one story after the next and all you know as a reader is how many you’re going to get.  I didn’t count as I went.  I read two of the four books and just sifted through the other two because all have the same stories in them.  The publisher has just put the stories in a different order in each book.  When I read the second of the two compendiums however, I was really not amused.  The ‘book’  runs for just over 700 pages on my Kindle.  That’s a lot of pages to be paid for, especially as the same stories are repeated over and over – yes you heard me -THE SAME STORIES ARE REPEATED OVER AND OVER IN THE SAME BOOK!  The actual original content of the book is less than half of the finished length, but the clever bit is that there is a repeat of a story and then a new one is thrown in so you find yourself flicking through to get to the next one, to see if it’s new, until you reach the end of the book and Amazon pays out for the whole book as you’ve reached the end.

As an author, this seriously annoys me.  I spent months writing my book, editing it and getting it right.  Even since it has been up and available, I’ve made changes as I’ve had feedback from my readers.  Why should an honest writer get paid an honest amount and then be up against this despicable cheating from other publishers.  It was bad enough that I got four books, which all contain the same content – be careful, you have to pay for them now – but to have repeated stories in the same book, well, that’s just not on.

So, if you see this elsewhere, and I am certain that you will because wherever there are rules there are always going to be people trying to get around them, please report it to Amazon.  They don’t want their honest authors or readers upset by these unscrupulous charlatans either.

I will not state the books involved, they know who they are.


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