Data; Books, and Readers

I’ve been watching Amazon’s new program with great interest. So have a lot of authors.
The KU/KOLL program allows subscribers to borrow books. Amazon gets a monthly payment from those enrolled, authors get paid for borrows but at a rate that’s less than we would earn from royalties on sales. It gives Amazon a regular income stream and since readers aren’t charged by the book, they’re more willing to borrow a book by an unknown author. For those of us who don’t have a following, we get readers.
At first, authors were paid a set amount for each book borrowed. That created dissatisfaction, because the length of the borrowed work wasn’t taken into account. Writers got the same amount for a borrowed short story that they did for a full-length novel. Amazon’s new system intends to change that; authors are now being paid for each page read. Granted it’s not much, about $0.005, but that can add up.
Meanwhile, it’s giving writers information we’ve never had. How many people read our book all the way to the end? How many read a page and abandoned it? Or perhaps read ten percent (the trigger for Amazon paying an author for a borrow) and then gave up?
But counting the number of pages read let’s the writer know. So far, I’m quite happy. Readers read 10,700 pages in the first two days. Today’s count looks to be about the same, although it’s early. Actual sales of books aren’t great, but borrowing looks likely to pick up the slack. I’m cautiously optimistic.

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