RECENT CHANGES TO KENPC
(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.
Write happy, be happy. 🙂
Copyright © 2016
Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers
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