Image from ShutterStock.

Before you race to the comments field to say what a bad idea this is, please note the important word OPTIONAL. 🙂

Here is what I’m proposing for Kindle sales (not to be confused with Kindle borrows):

• Authors set one list price for outright purchase, just as usual. No change to this.
• Authors also set an optional price per page. Emphasis on authors getting to choose this.

Example:

• List price = \$2.99. Customers can buy the book for \$2.99.
• Optional price per page = 3 cents per page. Customers can choose this option instead of buying the book. Remember, in my proposal, the author gets to choose this price.

Let’s say that the book in my example has 150 pages. Then the customer has two choices:

• Buy the book for \$2.99. Customer can read as little or as much of the book as desired.
• Pay 3 cents per page (re-reads of pages already read are free). Just pay for how much you read. If you read the whole book in my example, this will cost you \$4.50, but you could have just bought the book outright for \$2.99.

In my proposal, the author receives the usual royalty rate, 35% or 70%, the same as for sales (though the delivery cost has to be factored in somehow for the 70% plan, maybe divide the delivery charge for the book by the number of pages and subtract this from the per page royalty).

So, in my example, the author earns more if (A) the customer chooses to pay by the page and (B) the customer eventually reads the whole book.

Amazon isn’t going to take a credit card payment for one page read: The fees would cost more than 3 cents. What Amazon would do is charge the customer, say, 99 cents up front, then bill the customer for every \$9.99 spent, or some other increments, kind of like they do for AMS advertising. In the long run, Amazon might make more money with such a billing program than when they sell 10 books for 99-cents each and have 10 separate credit card fees. (They could do the billing up front if ‘credit’ is a concern.)

## WHY DO THIS?

This might impact reference books and cookbooks, for example. These are books where customers sometimes only need to read part of the book now. Maybe they will want the rest later, maybe not.

Let’s say the customer doesn’t want to pay the list price for the whole book. If pages read isn’t an option, the customer will walk away. If so, it’s a lost sale for the author.

Would the author have been willing to set a per-page price so that the customer could read, say, just Chapter 4? Maybe if the author could set a high enough per-page price, the author would be okay with this. It’s better than nothing, right? And the transaction improves the book’s sales rank, a nice little perk.

It might impact fiction, too. With the option to pay for pages read, even though you might spend more when reading a whole book, it gives you some flexibility to try a book out that you’re strongly interested in, but don’t want to commit to for its list price.

Based on the Kindle Unlimited model, Amazon seems interested in tracking customer engagement. They are probably measuring pages read for sales, even though it presently only matters for borrows. It’s possible that in the future visibility on Amazon will be based in part on successful customer engagement (i.e. getting a higher percentage of pages read). That’s purely speculative. I have no reason to believe that’s in place now, nor have I heard that it’s coming. But it is possible, isn’t it? It wouldn’t be good for some types of books, like reference books and cookbooks. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Heck, they could change the payout for sales to a pages read scheme and not even make it optional. Amazon determines the rules, right?

Presently, pages read doesn’t impact paid sales in any way. It’s only for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime borrows. I haven’t heard anything to suggest that it might change, so don’t panic.

To be honest, I’m not even sure if I’m in favor of it or against it. I am curious about it, though.

## Chris McMullen

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)

1. Interesting idea, Chris. I can see where it might be beneficial to authors in some genres.

• I think that’s the right word: interesting. Not sure if it’s good or bad. Trying to think of where Amazon might head in the future so I’m not surprised.

2. Yes, I would say as well,, interesting thought, why not?

• Maybe..

3. David Hoobler

4. The way you explained it, I can see it as a good thing. Never let go of a sale!

• Thank you. 🙂

• Welcome.

5. Hi Chris, I may have put this question in the wrong place, I am new to blogging, but I am hoping this is something you might be able to easily answer.

I have my book completed using Amazon Kids Book Creator in single page layout landscape. My pages are not as wide as the screen on the Fire and so there is a white band on either side. Is there a way to change the band to black, either in the export from the Amazon Kids Books Creator or in the Fire settings? In my first rendition I thought the background was black. This is not part of the art work but the screen itself.

Thanks for your help. David Hoobler

• There will be a gap either at the top/bottom or left/right where the aspect ratio of your images don’t match the aspect ratio of the screen. You can’t change the color of that border, which actually looks different on different devices. The best you can do is design your images to match the aspect ratio of your target device, and for every other device you’ll have a border.

• There will be a gap either at the top/bottom or left/right where the aspect ratio of your images don’t match the aspect ratio of the screen. You can’t change the color of that border, which actually looks different on different devices. The best you can do is design your images to match the aspect ratio of your target device, and for every other device you’ll have a border.

6. jmjackson054

Your example of a cookbook is a good one to illustrate where this might be very useful. Similarly, it could be perfect for a textbook where the prof only wants to use a couple of chapters.

I’m less convinced it makes sense for fiction. Most books allow the ability to read the first X pages. If they don’t hook you, why pay for the book? If they do hook you, why assume you’ll get bored partway through and pay per page, knowing if you read the whole book you’ll pay more.

Just my off-the-cuff reaction, which may or may not be worth my two cents. 🙂

~ Jim

• You’re probably right about fiction. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

7. As a writer, I might use the per page option for research. Especially if I could jump around by chapters. As a home cook, I’d probably use the per page occasionally for cookbooks (though I get a lot of recipes free on the internet these days), and as a reader, I’m with Jim.

In fact, I just downloaded four free novel samples of new-to-me writers to see if I want to buy the entire book. Or the two I’ve read so far, I’m going to buy one that has me interested in what happens, but not the other, because the first person voice was annoying to me by page three.

As a former lit major who might have had to pay \$100 dollars for a book, only to read 2 assigned poems or short stories from it, I can definitely see an advantage for text books. (Though could you highlight and make notes that way? You can’t on samples from Amazon) Interesting thought, though.

• Textbooks. That would be great for students. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. 🙂

8. This is a fascinating idea… In order to choose this option, an author would have to be very confident in his book’s “stickiness:” every page should draw the reader into the next page. But isn’t that the goal of any writer? Or shouldn’t it be? Currently there’s no easy way to measure success against it…