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Amazon is rewriting the rules of how authors receive royalties for Kindle e-books. Under the new policy, starting July 1, authors will get paid based on the number of pages read by Kindle users rather than the number of books downloaded. This policy will apply to books available on Amazon Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited services. The new system will only apply to authors enrolled in Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select program and not those who have separate publishers. Kindle Direct Publishing is a way for authors to self-publish their 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 says, in an official 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,"

Amazon believes this new method is fair because authors will be paid based on the length of the books they have written and whether their content keep the reader captivated. Until now, an author writing a 200-page book would get the same royalty as someone writing a 2000-page book.

Can the system be conned? In order to determine how much an author should be paid, Amazon will be using a feature known as the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC). It does calculations based on font size, line height and line spacing, from what is known as the Start Reading Location (this is usually the start of the first chapter) till the end of the book. It will work to counter any attempts by authors to outwit the system and increase the page count by enlarging font size or line spacing. However, adding illustrations in the book could actually work, as visual elements such as images, graphs and other graphics count positively in the KENPC.

Kindle e-books can be read on almost every computing platform out there: there are desktop apps for Windows and Mac computers, and dedicated apps for Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone smartphones and tablets. There are Kindle tablet readers as well.

The new model could cause a change in priorities for authors at the writing stage itself. A pay-per-page system will be better for certain genres, such as mysteries and thrillers. Amazon’s new policy could actually force writers to change to a more exciting writing style. Those who can constantly deliver the page-turners will be the most successful. But this policy could also kick some writing styles in the stomach, the ones that are slower, more descriptive and prefer a build-up. Amazon is a dominant force in the market and it has changed the rules in one go. Writers who are not attached to any publisher may feel powerless.

What is even more disconcerting is how Amazon is keeping tabs on what, how long, at what time and how much every single user is reading—the demographics data will be massive. It poses a new level of privacy risk that we never expected of a simple e-book app or reader.

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