INCREASED PRINTING PRICES
On June 20, 2023, the cost of printing a book at KDP will increase, which will in turn lower the royalties for paperback (and hardcover) books.
- If your book is taller than 9 inches high or wider than 6.12 inches wide, the effect is significant. It will cost about half a penny per page extra (plus about 15 cents on top of that). For example, if a book has 200 pages, you’re looking at $1.15 added to the printing cost, effectively reducing your royalty by $1.15.
- If your book is 9 inches high or less and is also 6.12 inches wide or less, the effect is minimal (about 15 cents). The popular 6×9 size just gets a 15 surcharge.
Check out the pricing tables on the KDP help pages. They will also have a calculator coming that will compare new and old prices. In the meantime, if you pull up the pricing page for your book, it will show you both the current and future prices.
Find out what the new royalties will be for your books. You may want to consider adjusting the list prices, especially if the new royalty is zero or very small.
On your KDP Bookshelf, there is a link available to update all of your book prices at once to preserve your current royalty, but I recommend individually changing the prices.
If you plan to change your list price, I recommend doing it soon. For one, you will see an increased royalty for any copies printed before June 20, 2023. For another, you can get ahead of the rush. There may be lengthy delays as the deadline approaches.
We were perhaps fortunate that the prices didn’t increase sooner. I first published in 2008 (it was with CreateSpace then) and the list prices and royalties haven’t changed in the US since I first published (although there have been changes in other countries). That’s 15 years of steady royalties, in spite of inflation. This past year, inflation has been pretty significant globally, so it’s no surprise that the increased costs have finally reached KDP. These price increases could have conceivably been implemented last summer when inflation first turned sky-high.
The main difficulty I see is the new concept of a printing charge for “oversize” books. Imagine a 600 page 7×10 book now adding $3.15 more to the printing cost. That seems to be a pretty steep price change for oversized books with a high page count. (Or maybe it was just way too cheap in the first place?) But maybe larger books tend to be nonfiction technical or artistic books that can command higher prices (or journals; maybe KDP is partly doing this to discourage certain kinds of books from being made print-on-demand).
I don’t think it’s the size of the paper itself that is important. I think it’s the additional ink needed to print books with larger trim sizes. Perhaps they should measure how much ink is used and use that to determine the prices (though that would really kill the prices for some art books).
Another point to consider is that other publishers have also had to deal with rising inflation. So although KDP is just now raising their list prices, other authors’ and publishers are also dealing with inflationary pressures. It’s not like KDP’s prices are going up while the rest of the industry is holding steady. Everything is trending upward.
It is what it is, and unless you think you can fight it, we need to deal with it. Find out what your new royalty is and decide whether or not to raise your list price in part to help compensate. Raising the price may deter sales to some extent in some cases, but there is some degree of price elasticity where it may not make much difference, especially if the book is reasonably priced to begin with.
Good luck with your books,
Chris McMullen, author of the Improve Your Math Fluency series of workbooks
I suppose it’s inevitable with prices going up everywhere. But to get lower royalties seems a bit steep. Surely we are getting a percentage of the selling price? So if the price increases, it stands to reason that the royalty will increase. 10%of 100 is 10.10% of 200 is 20. So why does not that simple maths apply here?
They give you 60% (which sounds amazing, if there were no subtraction) of the list price (for Amazon.com sales) and after that, then they subtract the printing price. It’s actually possible to earn zero royalty if the list price isn’t high enough.
It’s not right. They let you think you’re earning a certain amount, then whittle it down. I don’t deal directly with Amazon as I’m published by a small publisher. Do they make it clear that you’re not actually getting 60%?
To me, it was clear. I see the reason for doing it that way, but it makes figuring the percentage less straightforward. Fortunately, they calculate the royalties as you play with the list price when you publish, so it is very transparent at that step. (They also have royalty calculators to see at any stage.)
I checked my books. I have a ‘throw-away” series I use to lure customers: $5 ea. at shows; $5.99 online. I was concerned; 6X9 size. I just checked the new pricing, I’ll lose $.15 royalty on each book. In fact, ALL my books that are 6×9; I only lose $.15. I can handle that. Paper costs have gone up and ink costs, which were always ridiculously outrageous, went beyond that. I see no reason to up the ante for my books. Maybe the customer will consider the books that don’t up the price, a good buy. I would rather lose $.15 than a customer.
15 cents is not much. From the way it was worded (perhaps I misread it), I thought 6×9 would also get the oversized charge. It sounds like maybe it isn’t considered oversized, which would be great, since this size is popular. Thank you for sharing.
From what I understand, longer than 9 inches and wider than 6.12 inches. So, 6×9 is safe, which probably is the standard, at least in the USA. I’m guessing about 90% of the books on Amazon are 6×9 inches. Say 3 million (probably more) books @ $.15 increase. That’s a tidy sum.
I see that I did read it incorrectly the first time. You’re right: 6×9 isn’t oversize, which is great for the majority of books.
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Thanks, Chris. I’d had the email from Amazon but good to get your take on it.
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