How will Amazon's new pay-per-page model change e-books?
Just as Spotify has done for music, the new pay-per-page system could change the way e-books are published and authors paid.
It's a business move that gives new meaning to the phrase "page-turner."
Starting July 1, Amazon will began paying authors in its Kindle library program by the number of pages read, the company recently announced.
In other words, writers who put out 500-page books will have the chance to earn twice as much as those who release 250-page books.
“We’re making this switch in response to great feedback we received from authors who asked us to better align payout with the length of books and how much customers read," Amazon said in a statement. "Under the new payment method, you’ll be paid for each page individual customers read of your book, the first time they read it.”
The change affects self-published writers who put out works on Amazon's Kindle Owner's Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited services, which offers readers who subscribe to Amazon Prime a library of free e-books.
In the past, Amazon paid authors by the number of times their books were borrowed. Like Spotify has done for music, the new pay-per-page system – alternately called "A wake-up call for lazy writers," "A recipe for bad writing," and "Good news for readers with short attention spans," – could change the way e-books are published and authors paid.
According to reports, it was inspired by authors of longer books who had complained to Amazon that "a writer who's labored over a 500,000-word tome should get more than someone who dashed off a 20,000-word pamphlet," as USA Today put it.
Amazon took that advice – and added a twist. Under the new system, writers of longer books would be paid more – but only if a reader actually gets through all 500,000 words.
And a special algorithm ensures writers can't cheat with larger fonts or margins. Amazon's "Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count," measures pages by a standard font, line height, and line spacing system.
What does that mean for the e-book industry, at least those in Amazon's library?
"A system with per-page payouts is a system that rewards cliffhangers and mysteries across all genres," reports the Atlantic. "It rewards anything that keeps people hooked, even if that means putting less of an emphasis on nuance and complexity."
"What this system will essentially do is reward authors who write cliffhangers and page-turners; books that can keep the reader hooked," Gizmodo reports.
In others words, long page-turners – think thrillers, mysteries, and cliffhangers – are in. Shorter books, like novellas and essays, as well as books readers give up on – think obscure economic treatises – are out.