Amazon introduced Kindle Unlimited in July 2014. The way they calculate payments to authors is surprisingly complex. Payouts for July and August were $1.81 and $1.54, respectively. Many authors were predicting that the payout for September would continue the same downward trend. The results are in though, and the price per borrow was relatively the same at $1.52. Some users are reporting a smaller payout of $1.51 per borrow, though that’s probably a rounding difference.

As a new author in the Amazon marketplace, I’m totally fine with this number. Granted, my book is priced at $4.99. I make a 70% profit from a sale, so I make about $3.50 from each book purchase. That means I make about half as much when someone borrows a book, either from a friend who already purchased my book or because they’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.

If my book was priced higher, say $9.99, I don’t think I would be as pleased with the payouts. The difference between a royalty of a paid book and a borrow in that case would be $7 to $1.52. That difference is a little bit harder to stomach.

So I’ll continue to keep any low-price books in Kindle Unlimited. But unless there’s a change in the way they pay authors I wouldn’t recommend adding more expensive books.

Penned on October 15, 2014 by Kevin Sweet