Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Ebook Subscriptions Q & A

Q: Joe, I hate Amazon, and I hate their new Kindle Unlimited terms.

Joe sez: Opt out. It's voluntary.

Q: They're an evil monopoly.

Joe sez: They're neither. But if I felt that strongly about a company, I wouldn't work with them.

Q: But they're the only way to make money.

Joe sez: So, you hate the cow that gives you milk. I can't help you there. Try the serenity prayer. You know, the strength to accept the things you cannot change.

Q: These new KU terms are unfair.

Joe sez: Who said life was supposed to be fair, fun, or easy?

Q: Amazon is ruining my career.

Joe sez: My author rank has gone from #977 to #433 since the new changes began. I've done no promo, released no new titles. I'm simply being read the same pace as before, yet it now counts for more.

Q: That's not fair.

Joe sez: Can you point me to the blog post where I whined the old system--that paid a 10 page short story the same amount as a 400 page novel--was unfair?

Q: You never did that.

Joe sez: You can curse the darkness, or light a candle.

Q: But there is no change unless people complain.

Joe sez: I didn't complain. And yet, here is change.

Q: You're making more money now because you write novels.

Joe sez: First of all, I won't know if I'm making more or less money until I know how big the pot is for July, and what my percentage is. It's too early to start worrying.

Second, writing longer books isn't what is going to earn people money under this new system.

Q: If not length, then what?

Joe sez: Quality.

Under the old system, you got a full share if someone read 10% of your work. A 20 page work meant the reader had to get through 2 pages.

Anyone can get through 2 pages, even if the 2 pages are awful.

Now, we're being paid according to how much the reader is reading. Isn't a writer who is able to sustain a reader's suspension of disbelief for 100,000 words more deserving of being paid more than a writer who can't sustain a reader for 3 pages?

Q: So you're saying I'm making less money now because I suck?

Joe sez: I'm not saying anything. I'm looking at this logically.

Farmer A works 10 hours and plows 10 acres, feeding 10,000 people.

Farmer B works 1 hour and plows 1 acre, feeding 1000 people.

Should they be paid the same?

Q: I know I don't have enough data yet, but I think my income is shrinking!

Joe sez: That's too bad. I suggest you consider writing longer works. And make sure they're page turners.

Q: So now I have to write page turners!? I'm a serious literary novelist, not a genre hack like you.

Joe sez: An artist of your caliber should be looking into government and university grants. You shouldn't be toiling with the unwashed masses in the cesspool of popular consumer swill.

Q: That sounds sarcastic.

Joe sez: It is. Learn to hold a reader's attention, and you'll get paid. Spend 100 pages describing an unlikeable protagonist without introducing a whit of conflict, and I invite you to go fuck yourself.

Q: Art needs to be protected!

Joe sez: Here's a thought experiment from my friend, Barry. Pretend that, throughout history, writers have always been monetarily compensated for how many words the reader read. Imagine there has always been some counter in place that kept track of word counts, and writers got paid accordingly.

Then some upstart company came around and wanted to charge a flat fee for a book, no matter how long it was, no matter how much of it was actually read.

Doesn't that sound silly? Suddenly, authors could make money without a single word being read. They could be compensated for writing books no one ever finished. Why toil away perfecting craft, learning how to tell a compelling story, if a sale becomes more important than a read?

Amazon's new way of compensating authors not only makes sense, I contend it should have always been like this.

What kind of writer wouldn't want it to be?

Q: All I know is that I had a lot of short stories that were making good money, and now I don't think they will.

Joe sez: Which was a loophole. An unfair way to compensate authors. Did you complain that it was unfair when you were benefiting from this loophole?

For example, I think current copyright laws are unfair. And even though these laws benefit me, I want them to be reformed so I have fewer rights.

I understand defending things you benefit from. But we should all look closer at what we benefit from and ask if it is also good for others. For society. For the world.

The old Kindle Unlimited compensation structure wasn't balanced. This wasn't collectively good for writers or readers.

Q: How was it not good for readers?

Joe sez: If writers only had to hold a reader's attention for 10% of the work to get paid, where is the impetus to keep those readers hooked for the other 90%? Where is the impetus to make the story longer, and more entertaining?

The impetus, in fact, is to hook them for 10%, then quickly make them stop reading so they'll pick up something else.

In software terms, there is something called shovelware. It endorses cheap quantity over quality. No one likes shovelware. A hundred games that sort of amuse aren't as valuable as one game that enthralls.

Can you show me how the old KU system promoted quality better than this new system does?

Q: This new system punishes short story writers.

Joe sez: Bundle your stories together. Make it easy for readers to read them all at once. Or opt out. Amazon can't punish you if you aren't enrolled.

Q: You spent years on this blog, hating on legacy publishers. Why didn't you ever opt out?

Joe sez: I did. I got my rights back, at great personal and emotional cost.

Q: The early years of this blog read like love letters to your publishers.

Joe sez: During my early years of being published, I had no choice. I wanted to reach readers, legacy was the only way, so I took whatever I was offered. And I didn't whine about it. It was the only game in town, and I played that game as best I could. You don't shit where you eat, and you dance with the one who brought you to the party. Criticizing unconscionable contracts meant I'd never get another contract. So I played nice.

When an alternative--Amazon--presented itself, I burned all those legacy bridges. My criticism of legacy publishing is a warning for other authors.

Right now, there are alternatives to Amazon. If you hate Amazon like I hated legacy publishers, leave and burn that bridge.

But you don't actually have to burn it. You can opt out and opt in as often as you like, even while vilifying Amazon all over the net.

We've come a long way, baby.

Q: The only reason you're successful at self-publishing is because your legacy publishers gave you a fanbase.

Joe sez: I debunked this meme years ago.

Q:You're an Amazon apologist.

Joe sez: I'm a pragmatist. My current goals are aligned with Amazon's. Sometimes they do things I don't like. I try to adapt.

Q: I'm going to laugh when they cut everyone's royalties to 8%.

Joe sez: You mean they could possibly cut royalties to the same percentage that legacy publishers pay? Gasp!

Q: Amazon knew writers would hate this new format.

Joe sez: I think Amazon knows it can't do make any decision without scores of writers forming a dudgeon mob of righteously indignant social justice warriors. Welcome to outrage culture, where the slightest feeling of being wronged can stir up a shitstorm on Twitter and get the attention of major media outlets. Come and jump on the bandwagon, and don't worry if you haven't learned a lot about the issue and don't understand the little you have learned. It feels good to vent, doesn't it?

But, seriously, whining after the horse has left the barn is pretty lame. You made hay when it was sunny. It isn't sunny anymore. Move on.

Q: What's with all the platitudes?

Joe sez: It's funny how the older I get, the more old sayings seem to be applicable. A proverb is a short sentence based on a long experience.

Q: So how do we survive this awful situation?

Joe sez: Easy.

1. Write good books. Books that readers love. Books they recommend to others.

2. Experiment. Try new things. If you aren't failing, you aren't trying.

3. Innovate. Start your own ebook company. Certainly some of you have ideas. Go do something about it.

4. Share what you know. That's the point of life. Learning is only half the equation, you also have to pass it along so others can benefit.

If you don't like how the way things are, do it yourself, and do it better.

Now I'm going to go back to writing. I suggest you do the same.


Ann Voss Peterson said...

Absolutely agree.

Entertaining the reader IS the job. Page-turners come in all lengths and all genres, including literary fiction.

Why do readers turn the page?
1. conflict
2. sequence
3. delayed gratification
4. escalation

And for any of those to matter, you need great characters that readers care about (not like, necessarily, but care about. There's a difference).

Wait, I wrote a post about this right here on Joe's blog: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/pacing-by-ann-voss-peterson.html

J. R. Tomlin said...

Joe, you do yourself no favors using a term like 'social justice warrior' as a pejorative and aligning yourself with the likes of Vox Day. I agree with your sarcastic points, but drop that term like a hot potato is my sincerest advice.

Kyoko M said...

I could KISS you. This is seriously the first post I've seen in WEEKS that points out how unbelievably immature some of these authors are being right now. When I heard about the new system, I went to KBoards' Writer's Cafe so I could learn how it was going to work, but no, every single thread was "OMFG AMAZON IS THE WORST THEY ARE GOING TO PAY US NOTHING WE ARE JUST SLAVES I HATE THEM THEY WANT TO JUST GIVE AWAY OUR BOOKS FOR ZERO DOLLARS." And I just stared at it in total disbelief because it's totally...friggin'...optional. Opt out if you hate it and take your business elsewhere. I am so sick and tired of these entitled authors throwing temper tantrums when they can publish and reach literal MILLIONS of people in a short and easy process instead of spending YEARS sending query letters to publishers who pay them even less than Amazon would at times. Amazon is far from perfect, but this is ridiculous and I am so grateful that you cut through the crap with this post. There is no excuse for grown men and women to be so immature when it hasn't even been around a month yet. I've only got two books in the program. If my profit is lower than the previous months, guess what? I'll opt out and try my luck elsewhere. It's that simple.

And I agree that I think the short story authors screaming their heads off were benefiting from a loophole and now that it's gone, they're crying unfair. Mm-hmm. Funny how that works, innit?

Thanks for laying down the truth. It's so good to hear.

Terri Herman-Ponce said...

Totally agree with the new KU terms. We needed fairness in the KU system, and I now think we're closer to it. Bottom line is that we all have options as self-published authors. If you don't like the terms, you can always opt out -- and we've had that choice every time Amazon made a change authors didn't like. That's a heck of a lot of power.

Tim Tresslar said...

After years of ghostwriting, I published my first indie book this year and enrolled it in KDP. I don’t know whether Kindle Unlimited has helped or hurt me. So far, it seems like a wash. I’ve had a few KU transactions, but nothing significant. I’ve opted to leave it in KDP (for now) so I can participate in countdown deals, etc. I doubt this latest change to KU will affect me significantly, either.
As a KU customer, I have to say I’m not blown away by Amazon’s offerings. The longer I’m in the program, the more I’m questioning its value to me as a consumer.

JR Holmes said...

The one good reason I've seen for disappointment under the new KU terms comes from people writing children's books. KU was nicely aligned with the needs of parents that wanted to keep getting new stories for their kids at an affordable price. Payment to those writers worked out well under the old terms.

Those children's books are commonly shorter and heavily illustrated pages that the KENPC page counts don't show as lots of pages. I hope that we see a change in KU's policies that allow those writers to continue to work profitably.

Nirmala said...

"As a KU customer, I have to say I’m not blown away by Amazon’s offerings. The longer I’m in the program, the more I’m questioning its value to me as a consumer."

I think this is the crux of the matter when it comes to the changes in KU payments. Amazon has to do whatever it can to improve the reader's experience if they do want this new model to work. And it would seem that this new system kills two birds with one stone: it is fairer and it should bring more longer books and maybe eventually better books into KU.

Nirmala said...

"Those children's books are commonly shorter and heavily illustrated pages that the KENPC page counts don't show as lots of pages. I hope that we see a change in KU's policies that allow those writers to continue to work profitably."

Maybe Amazon could adopt a system where a book is paid by either the KENPC pages read or the number of pages as they appear in the paper book that are read, whichever is higher. The downside to that approach is someone somewhere will game the system by publishing a paperback with 200 pages that is only 10 KENPC pages as an ebook, although that author would run the risk of getting a lot of scathing one star reviews from anyone who purchased the paperback.

Anonymous said...

The old system didn't reward the elusive 'quality' we claim is there when we say 'write a good book.'

The old system (not even that old, is it?) rewarded short books because, for equally bad quality, a reader might accidentally read two pages, but not 20 - enough people read two pages for good payouts to those writers.

I had no desire to join the old system - but the new one looks like a nice playground.


Niki said...

To JR Holmes, thank you for your comment about children's books.

As a children's author, I have now spoken out enough, that I'm tired of talking about it. But as much as I agree with Joe's post in some ways, the children's authors truly are getting a bad deal. Of course we can all opt out, and maybe that's what Amazon wants. It sure seems that way. Who knows? I'm sure they knew we wouldn't like it. They employ illustrators, graphic designers and artists, they know the work involved in creating picture books. I doubt it just slipped their minds when they made these changes.

My choice now is to focus on my paperbacks and hardcovers. Some of my ebooks are still in KU for now, some I've already taken out months ago. My other choice is to go back to novel writing, which I also love. It's just unfortunate that the ones who will be hurt the most, are too young to have a voice on our behalf.

JA Konrath said...

I have no idea who Vox Day is. I recently heard the term SJW and find it appropiate in our twitter age, unless I'm getting something backwards.

Anonymous said...

You aren't Joe, but the SJWs react instantly when you use the term. You've found one of the people who like to spend their days whipping up online lynch mobs and then comparing themselves to Jesus and Superman when the finish.

Don't let people censor what you do and do not say.

And for your knowledge, Vox Day is a radical right wing racist. He used to comparison to try and shut you up.

Ian Pattinson said...

"Social Justice Warrior" is an insult most often rolled out by people offended at being called out for being racist/sexist/homophobic etc. To be called an SJW by the sort of person most likely to use it is actually a compliment- obnoxious, entitled idiots don't like the fact that you are a caring, considerate, decent person.

Shorter version- what sort of person would think that fighting for social justice (ie equality) would be a horrible thing to do? Do you want to be associated with them?

On the KU question. I had my best KU month ever last month. I've had a few hundred page reads so far this month. I don't know whether I'm doing better or worse from the new system until some time in August. Even if I'm doing worse, I probably won't change my KU strategy.

Most of my books aren't in KU, because I'm finding that going wide is getting me more sales. The books that are in it won't be there forever. But whilst they are, they serve as jumping on points, or can be promoted and pull my other works along in their wake. (Last month was my best month ever [still a loooong way from a living wage], partly because I promo'd a KU book early in the month and it had a knock on effect.)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Konrath, what's your opinion on #releasetherate, the movement which is simply trying to get Amazon to release the amount that we're getting paid so that we can make decision regarding advertisement ROI and other business decisions?

J. R. Tomlin said...

Joe, SJW is a term used to demonize anyone who has LGBT characters or those of color in their novels. I have to say that not knowing who Vox Day is is a blessing although anyone who follows the events of the Hugo this year and last would have difficulty achieving that state. I suggest learning a bit more about the term and the hateful people who use it before you seemingly ally yourself with them.

While I am happy to say that I am indeed a social justice warrior because I do believe in equality, you really don't want to put yourself in that camp. I mean you consider justice a BAD thing? Seriously?


Totally agree Joe. And so here's what I know, if you visit the links below you'll be getting some cool books for FREE or $.99 for a limited time:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CWEFNVS - Pizza Man and The OzValt Grant Collection is free for the next 12 hrs.

http://kindlenationdaily.com/knd-quality-99-centers-horror/ Coffin Kids is available for $.99 for the next 20 days.

This is how I make the world a better place by sharing my stories LOL! Great post Joe!

JR Holmes said...

Nike: I suspect that the impact of the changed KU policies on children's book writers was a minor concern for Amazon. While a vital and active section of the overall KU writers, I suspect that they don't make up a very large portion of the whole.

And to Anonymous about #releasetherate. I don't think that Amazon is determining the actual rate until the end of the month. From my recollection, Amazon said that they were putting $11 million in the pool for the next two months and that the final rate would be determined by the number of pages actually read during that month.

J. R. Tomlin said...

You'll notice Anonymous's attempt to demonize me. That is exactly the kind of thing that you run into with the Rabid Puppy/GamerGate crowd.

J. R. Tomlin said...

One last comment and I'll stop derailing the thread, Joe. Obviously I am not silencing you. A heck of a lot more powerful people than I am can't do that so neither could I even if I wanted to and since I pretty much agree with you, it would be silly. However, using a term like SJW does make people assume that you agree with the groups that originated and use it (Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies/GamerGaters). You may agree with them, in which case that's fine. If you don't, then I suggest not using it.

In any case, all the best.

Adrian said...

I enjoy ebooks. I love my ereader (Nook). But I'm disappointed by the additional encroachment of our privacy.

It wasn't that long ago that it was considered scandalous that the government subpoenaed the bookstore receipts of one customer as part of an investigation.[1] Now the "bookstores" are tracking not only what we purchase, but what we read, when, how often, and how quickly.

I'm fine with the idea of rewarding authors in proportion to how much people read their stuff, but this new scheme is a reminder of just how invasive the new business models have become. Unlike my first ereader (a FoxIt eSlick), today's devices are net-connected surveillance gadgets controlled--not by their owners--but by the corporations that sell us licenses to consume content. In an era where the government has asserted all sorts of powers to investigate us by compelling the companies we do business with to secretly turn over our records, we're allowing rampant recording of the intimate details of our leisure time.

[1]: http://www.nytimes.com/1998/03/26/us/lewinsky-s-bookstore-purchases-are-now-subject-of-a-subpoena.html

JA Konrath said...

My father was gay. I think the recent civil court ruling recognizing LGBT marriage is terrific.

But my take on outrage culture and social media is mixed.

I want the stars and bars taken down from government property. I don't like that Twitter can influence what companies sell. I don't like moral panic, witch hunts, or public shaming.

I guess, in a nutshell, I value civil liberties and freedom, including the nonsense from ignorant people. We've become so sensitive, so PC, that comedians spend more time apologizing than poking fun at human nature.

Racism, sexism, homophobia--these are bad things. But demonizing Alec Baldwin for a dumb thing he said is bad, too. Piling on John Locke with the No Sock Puppets nonsense was bad, and ended bad.

A good person isn't going to be hateful. But good people can do stupid things, and then get publuc shame heaped upon them because we're all too damn sensitive.

Going after Bill Cosby and rape culture is good. Going after Justine Sacco is not.

Put another way, I'm pro- guns and anti-idiots using guns, and feel the same way about social media judging.

The behavior I've seen on the net that could be described as SJW is both good and bad. So I should avoid the term.

JA Konrath said...

I'm away from my puter, and typing on my phone is ponderous, so I'll answer more questions when I'm online, includibg #releasethe rate

Anonymous said...

Hey, if this means I don't have to fight for spots on the KU All-Stars Bonus list with a gazillion .99-cent 50-page (hee hee) books about hunky billionaire werewolf stepbrothers who inexplicably only loves fat chicks, I'm all for it.

Randy Ellefson said...

I do think the new system is hurtful to bad authors, just as it is helpful to good ones (both good things). That those bad authors are pulling their books from KU means less money will go away from the better writers.

Still, I do object to one KU issue - we have no way of knowing how many people are "checking out" (for lack of a better term) our books. Before we only learned how many read 10%, which was better than having no clue at all, like now. Using simple numbers, if I have a 100 page book and 1000 page reads today, does that mean 10 people read the whole thing or 1000 people read page 1?

This is a big difference, and having a metric of how many people even started reading it tells us something about our marketing/sales efforts and effectiveness. Amazon has this info and should give it to us. What do you think, Joe?

Selena Kitt said...

"Hey, if this means I don't have to fight for spots on the KU All-Stars Bonus list with a gazillion .99-cent 50-page (hee hee) books about hunky billionaire werewolf stepbrothers who inexplicably only loves fat chicks, I'm all for it."
Oh, no. Now you'll have to fight for spots on the KU All-Stars Bonus list with 100K COLLECTIONS of books about hunky billionaire werewolf stepbrothers who inexpicably love only fat chicks.

Hee hee. :)

JA Konrath said...

lol Selena. :)

T. M. Bilderback said...

At first, I wasn't sure about this new pay-per-page thing, but I considered it from the point of view of a "lending library". I have some print copies on certain college library shelves, and I received a royalty when those campuses bought those copies...and that's all the money I'll see from those copies!

But, with Kindle Unlimited, if someone borrows one of my stories, I get paid per page read. Potentially, that's far more than if the reader borrowed my book from the library.

I thought it through, and, for me, it's best if I go "all-in" with Select and Kindle Unlimited.

Now, all of my stories are there...except the one I wrote for Joe's "Jack Daniels And Associates" Kindle World.

So, check it out, and read my stuff...and Joe's stuff, too...as part of your KU subscription!

Anonymous said...

"Oh, no. Now you'll have to fight for spots on the KU All-Stars Bonus list with 100K COLLECTIONS of books about hunky billionaire werewolf stepbrothers who inexpicably love only fat chicks."
Oh, I'm not worry at all. That 100K collection is going to mean you bundled up 20 to 30 "books" just to get to that number. You see, what you and your friends call a "collection" or a "bundle" the rest of us just call regular ol "books."

Gravy train's left the building, darling. Hope you ate enough to last for winter.

Selena Kitt said...

I don't need KU to eat. Never did. Won't ever put all my eggs in one basket if I don't have to! But I did make hay while the sun was shining. ;)

That said - I think authors with 300K word fantasy epics are going to be surprised how few people actually get all the way to the end... :x

antares said...

@Randy Ellefson

This is a big difference, and having a metric of how many people even started reading it tells us something about our marketing/sales efforts and effectiveness. Amazon has this info and should give it to us.

No, no, no.

I did a little programming back in the day. Did statistics, too. The rule of thumb then was the answer to one question cost $1 to collect. Even the answers to the qualifying questions -- the ones you ask just to see if the person standing in front of you is a member of your target demographic; that is, 'Are you between the ages of 24 and 49?' -- even those cost $1 each. Then. I do not believe the cost has gone down.

It costs Amazon $$$ to write software to collect these data. It costs Amazon $$$ to store these data. It costs Amazon $$$ to collate these data and produce information. (Data are NOT information. You can generate information by running competent computations on the data. You can generate misinformation by running incompetent computations on the data. It is real easy to do the latter. It is difficult to do the former consistently.) Some information Amazon has to produce in order to fulfill their contracts with writers and pay them. Anything beyond that is gravy.

You want Amazon to give you extra-contractual information? Greedy little bastard, aren't you?

When I did stats the rule was Money first, Stats second. I am amazed at how much information Amazon gives me FOR FRELLING FREE already. Maybe that's because I worked producing stats and can project a ROM cost of the hours and dollars spent to give me those stats.

You want these stats? Frankly, as someone who likely has a lot more knowledge of stats and their uses than you, I don't want 'em. Most of the writers out there cannot make effective use of such stats. Oh, if they have them, they will certainly play with them and base their business decisions on their interpretations of them, but that does not mean their actions will be effective. But even those who can use them effectively will likely find their time is better spent, you know, WRITING THE NEXT BOOK than pondering the effectiveness of last month's BookBub ads.

You want these stats? Here's the email address for Jeff Bezos: jeff@amazon.com. Send him an email. Tell him you want these numbers and ask for a ROM cost to produce these for you.

If it's worth having, it's worth paying for.

JA Konrath said...

Now the "bookstores" are tracking not only what we purchase, but what we read, when, how often, and how quickly.

Libraries have always done the same. So have many companies. Netflix, cable tv, Apple. Best Buy keeps track of purchases for years. Your ISP tracks all of your Internet activity, your cell phone provider keeps a record of every call.

If you want privacy, stay away from anything electronic.

Randy Ellefson said...

@antares Well I'm glad you did programming so long ago that it gives you such a big attitude today. I do it professionally now and have for the last 15 years. Want to compare penises now?

Your whole premise assumes Amazon is making NO MONEY from our books and we need to then PAY THEM to provide more info. You actually think they aren't raking in tons of money from KU?

Stupid little bastard, aren't you?

JA Konrath said...

Now the "bookstores" are tracking not only what we purchase, but what we read, when, how often, and how quickly.

Libraries have always done the same. So have many companies. Netflix, cable tv, Apple. Best Buy keeps track of purchases for years. Your ISP tracks all of your Internet activity, your cell phone provider keeps a record of every call.

If you want privacy, stay away from anything electronic.

JA Konrath said...

Those children's books are commonly shorter and heavily illustrated pages that the KENPC page counts don't show as lots of pages.

Amazon took this into account when they figured out what determines the length of a page. They thought long and hard about it.

Ian Pattinson said...


The other problem with demanding Amazon hands out all the information is, we don't yet know what they are going to tell us, and won't until the middle of August.

They might deliver incredibly detailed KU reports (though they probably won't). I'll be happy with pages read and payout, but if they're feeling really generous and give me the number of unique readers, that'll be cool.

JA Konrath said...

what's your opinion on #releasetherate

Amazon is sitting on a ton of information that would be helpful to authors. If I could see that 8% of my readers of a certain book stopped on a certain page and never finished, I could fix that, re-up it, and get better read-throughs. That would be damn near revelatory, both in reader satisfaction and writer knowledge of what readers want.

I've been pushing for Amazon to release this info. I'd even pay for it. we'll see.

Amazon is notoriously tight about giving out data. That has always been their policy.

As for #releasetherate, there are some issues to consider.

Amazon doesn't have a set rate. I have no idea what determines the amount in the monthly KU pot, but my guess is it has something to do with many other things going on at Amazon at the same time. If it was a good month for KU and other programs internally connected to it, I'd guess the pot goes up. Bad month, pot goes, down.

But that can only be decided AFTER the month is over. Just like a company giving out Xmas bonuses, they only know what to give after the accounting department determines what sort of quarter, or year, the company had.

Now Amazon could set some permanent rate, say half a cent per page, and always fund that. But that would be like these guys always knocking on my door, asking if i want to "lock in" my electric rate or gas rate. Presumably, you lock in a fixed rate for a set number of years. If the price of electricity or gas goes up, you've saved money. But if it goes down, you're stuck with that higher rate.

I'd guess that Amazon, like a utility, is subject to fluctuations. Would you want to lock in at half a penny a page if next month it's a penny a page?

The surface answer is, "Lock in at half a penny a page, and if rates fluctuate, begin offering a penny. Or give the extra as bonuses."

But then what happens when business drops? You have 10 million authors bitching that their income was slashed. And if the situation became dependent on bonuses, we'd be in exactly the same spot, with #releasethebonus.

Look, I 100% understand how helpful it would be to know the KU rate beforehand. it would make running my business much simpler, and much less stressful. But I don't see it happening in this current incarnation of KU.

What could happen is we start giving Amazon a limited license to our work for x number of months for X amount of money. But that would be like negotiating advances with legacy publishers; it would be wildly uneven, with some authors getting millions and some getting pennies. I'd do it if the price was right, but I don't see that happening for all authors, only for bestsellers.

Keep in mind that Amazon paying us per page is extremely forward-thinking. KU is forward-thinking. There may be wrinkles still to iron out, and nothing will ever make every author happy, but I'm impressed by Amazon's commitment to authors.

If someday I'm not impressed, you'll hear about it. and so will Amazon.

Randy Ellefson said...


True but it's very unlikely that they rolled out reports and changes now and will roll out more in a month, as these things are involved to create and change (especially with so much data behind them), then update a website and deal with more reactions to changes. There's an idea that it's better to hit people with one big change than to achieve the same result with a lot of smaller changes.

In other words, the current reporting is likely it for many months. Unless people whine enough, of course :)

What do you think is coming in mid-August? That's usually just the rate info, as the reporting stats on pages read are supposedly live.

Brian Niemeier said...

Hugh Howey weighs in: http://www.hughhowey.com/great-ku-flip-2015/

JA Konrath said...

You actually think they aren't raking in tons of money from KU?

Stupid little bastard, aren't you?

Attack the comment, not the poster.

As for Amazon making money of off KU, no one knows. It is reasonable to assume that paying a writer $1.80 for a 20 page story is not profitable. Perhaps this new KU payment plan is profitable. Or not. Amazon is infamous for pumping money into development rather than maximizing profit. How much of a loss Amazon is willing to accept before getting into the black is pure speculation. For all we know, the Kindle might not yet be profitable. If memory serves, Amazon has posted losses the last few quarters. Hundreds of millions, I believe.

KU could be a financial black hole for them. You don't know. So please refrain from the name calling.

Randy Ellefson said...


Sorry Joe, I was quoting his own comment calling me a greedy little bastard.

Ian Pattinson said...

@Randy Ellefson

What do you think is coming in mid-August?

Probably just pages read and payout. But, if Amazon were to release deep detail, I'd expect them to do it in the monthly reports rather than overloading the dashboard. It just seems a more efficient way of doing it.

Anonymous said...

Since it's unlikely that 100% of the lends that were read past the 10% mark were actually read in their entirety, it does seem like this will result in smaller payouts, on average, to KU authors.

emarsh said...

If you got paid for this post based on how much I read, you'd get the full 100%. Well said.

Christina E. Pilz said...

Hey Joe, thank you for always looking at things logically. There's been a lot of people running around like chickens with their heads cut off....so thanks for the deep breath and calm attitude. I write long books, and felt a little left out of the goldrush of writing short fiction and making boatloads. Now, the setup at Amazon seems more fair, not a percentage, but an actual page-by-page count of what a reader read, and then an equitable pay structure.

Seems like it might be time to give KU a try!

Julia Barrett said...

Really funny! Joe, I haven't looked at my author ranking in a year. Just haven't looked. Can you (or someone) remind me how to find it? Thanks!

Edmund de Wight said...

I refuse to run around like Chicken Little. I have no clue if KU will help or hurt me. Frankly I have to be a realist. Prior to Amazon I spent years trying to make my way into the trad world and now looking at their standard contract practices I'm glad I never made it and never will try again. I prefer writing shorter tales, mostly novellas, but so what? If more people read more of my books in their entirety I'll make money. Definitely more money than I'd make hoping some publisher will give me an undesirable contract or refusing to play because it's not a shower of gold for nothing.
Would I love to have Joe's or Hugh Howey's luck? Hell yes but I'm not gonna cry over it. Like Joe says, no one is guaranteed a living in writing. I'll keep plugging away, trying to improve my craft so that people read more of what I've written and taking every little crumb I get as a bonus beyond watching my writing sit gathering dust in a drawer.


I don't comment often on these posts so maybe I'm a bit naïve but I write novels, some are 250 pages some of 350 pages, because I love to write and sure making a living is a primary goal as well entertaining millions. I think complaining on either side is useless. Call me crazy. Good luck everyone!

Ann Voss Peterson said...

Author Rank is on Author Central, under Sales Info.

Julia Barrett said...

Thank you, Ann!

Broken Yogi said...

Joe, you imaginary dialog reminds me of this real dialog I had with Alan Spade at the end of this post of yours, that's pretty much over now but is amusing to read through:


The exchange starts about a third of the way down at 8:58 AM

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you should avoid the term. There's a legitimate and vigorous debate to be had about speech and critique on the internet, and the kind of demonization cycle we get into, but "social justice warrior" has come to be inextricably linked to its use purely as a pejorative term, primarily by right wing critics (and particularly highlighted during Gamergate and the Sad Puppy/Hugo Awards controversy, but certainly much in use previously) to stereotype people critiquing fairly overt racism and sexism (racism and sexism on the internet, often, but also racism and sexism generally), as whiners/privileged/dedicated to harming men/dedicated to harming whites/dedicated to silencing speech/dedicated to achieving "cultural marxism"/dedicated to bringing about the leftist revolution/women's overthrow of all men... or something. And for most people, the SJW tag is linked to folks like the aforementioned Vox Day, who calls black people monkeys who should die, and the Gamergate folks, who release female programmer's home addresses on the internet and then threaten to kill them.

In other words, SJW to most folks is now a snide and purposefully dismissive term used by some pretty toxic people who are upset that they are being criticized on the internet for their fairly toxic beliefs. You aren't one of them, and there are other ways to make the point you're actually making, which is that any minor change gets people into an incredible frenzy, often baselessly. Totally different things.

JA Konrath said...

I just Googled Puppygate.

One day I'll do a blog about how I think literary awards are nepotistic glad-handing bullshit. I say this having won a few.

Broken Yogi said...

I've seen all sorts of people using the SJW term from all sorts of backgrounds, for all sorts of reasons, both positive and negative. I think this policing of language is exactly what the term refers to, and so you sound like you're an example of an SJW yourself, for whatever that is worth.

Personally, I think that kind of language policing is a terrible way to go about communicating with others, and does more harm than good, and creates a fake culture of people spending too much time worrying about what people say rather than what actually happens. To suggest that using the term SJW might get Joe associated with racism or racist people is precisely the problem with SJWs. So even you seem to acknowledge the existence of this thing, but you just don't want to call it out, but instead something think it's a good thing. Well, it's not.

JA Konrath said...

As for toxic people, I've seen them on the right and the left.

I'm a moderate Liiberatarian. All for personal freedoms and being left alone.

Broken Yogi said...

"You actually think they aren't raking in tons of money from KU?"

How on earth could they be making any profit at all from KU? Just examine the numbers.

KU costs $10 a month.
KU has 1.1 million subscribers.
KU's total income is therefore $11 million per month.
KU includes books from both traditional publishers and KDP-Select published books.
Amazon has a pot to pay just the KDP-Select authors $11 a month minimum. So that wipes out all their income. Every expense after that is a loss.
Amazon still has to pay traditional publishers for their borrows. And they pay a lot more for those borrows than they do for KDP-select books. Often close to the profit they'd make off a sale.
We don't know how much that amounts to, but it's purely a loss since all the subscriber income went to pay the KDP select authors.
They also have to pay out of pocket all operational and advertising costs.
Conclusion is that Amazon must be losing a whole lot of money from KU every month.
My guess is that it must be in the range of $10 million a month in losses. Maybe more.

So, there's basically no way Amazon is making a profit on KU.
The only question is how much of a loss are they taking.

Terrence OBrien said...

KU has 1.1 million subscribers.

Where do we find that data?

Anonymous said...

"you're an example of an SJW yourself, for whatever that is worth. "

Keep an eye out for the word "pejorative". It's in the script.

Brantwijn said...

Well, I'm the minority opinion here. I half agree and half don't. You start out by indicating authors can't complain this is unfair, but you go on to point out how it isn't fair for a short-story writer to be paid as much as a novel-writer (comparison of the farmer and how much he plows). I agree with you that the bookselling market isn't fair, in general. I don't think it's fair that certain authors are multi-million dollar best sellers with books that don't hold up for half a second when you apply any logic or literary analysis to them. Yet EL James and Stephenie Meyers are raking in the millions. Novel-writers are upset that short story writers are making the same amount? That's where I say, sorry if that doesn't seem fair but that's the industry. And mind you, I'm a novel-writer. I have short stories out there but my bread-and-butter are the full-length novels and series I'm building. And novel-writers face a struggle with readers who don't want to read a full-length story, not because of quality, but because of quantity: all those folks out there who "don't have time to read".

You're claiming the pay rate is now based upon skill and quality, and the ability to hold a reader's attention. That's consumer behavior you honestly have no way of interpreting without interacting directly with the reader for their opinion...which is what the review system is for. If an author's book (regardless of length) is poor, the response is to leave a poor review and not read their work in the future. But to interpret the book's ability to keep a reader's interest based on pages turned is an extremely flawed system, and insulting. So many factors go into why a book may or may not be read and not all of them are based on the quality of the work. I have dozens of books on my Kindle I haven't read yet because I haven't gotten around to them. Lots of readers stock up on more books than they actually read. I also have paperbacks on my shelves that I paid $7-$10 each for, which I've never gotten around to reading, AND ones I paid full price for and gave up on after 1 chapter. But the author still gets the same cut of those royalties and I'm still out the money I paid for that book. That's part of being a consumer. It's also the reason I don't buy tickets to Transformers movies anymore.

Bottom line is, the perception that this system is being put in place to reward quality authors and cut down on authors of less quality is flawed and damaging to Indie authors. It assumes all short-story writers are in that "not quality" category. Farmer A might might work 10 hours and till 10 acres and feed 1000 people, but that doesn't automatically assume Farmer B hasn't created a heartier and more nutritious crop.

You champion a system where authors should be paid by the word, rather than allow authors to receive royalties for a book written but not read? Then movie makers shouldn't charge for tickets until the movie's been seen and the audience says they like it. Cooks shouldn't be paid until their food is eaten and praised, and they should only be paid for the percentage of the food that is eaten. Teachers shouldn't be paid until their students pass the class, and they should be paid in proportion to the percentage points earned by their students.

These things don't correlate the way you'd like them to in a "fair and equal" world. I think it's really arrogant to assume those who write less than you deserve less. You're not championing quality over quantity...you're doing the exact opposite.

antares said...

Joe Konrath said...
You actually think they aren't raking in tons of money from KU?

Stupid little bastard, aren't you?

Attack the comment, not the poster.

Joe, I'm going to come to Randy Ellefson's defense. I started this. He got tagged for the retaliation. I'll take the punishment meant for him, if you would, please.

To Randy Ellefson, I'm genuinely sorry for the slur. I apologize and retract the term 'bastard'. But I'll leave 'greedy', because the evidence is that you are.

As for 'stupid little bastard', I take no offense. Neither 'stupid' nor 'little' are accurate descriptions. I am a bastard, however, according to the first definition given in the American Heritage Dictionary online. The AHD notes that the term is offensive, but that's the editor's opinion, not mine.

Now back to the fray:
Your whole premise assumes Amazon is making NO MONEY from our books and we need to then PAY THEM to provide more info. You actually think they aren't raking in tons of money from KU?

I made no such assumption. I contracted with Amazon to publish and distribute my books. They did so. The terms of the agreement included a division of the sales money. I recall nothing in the contract that required Amazon to provide me with more information than number of sales and amount due to me. With KU, the contract is now for them to provide me the number of pages read and the amount due to me.

Amazon has consistently honored the terms of our agreement. They have been a good partner. I shall continue to do business with them.

If I require other info from Amazon which they have not contracted to provide me, of course I expect to pay for it. That is separate from the agreement we have in place.

As for the answer to your question, I don't know that Amazon is raking in tons of money from KU. I guess that their income from KU subscriptions is millions, perhaps tens of millions, of dollars. But that is only the income side of the ledger. I do not know what their operating costs are, what the amount of their disbursements to writers is, what their capital costs are; but I am certain beyond death that those are not zero.

Me? I would very much like to run stats on Data Guy's Author Earnings data, but I don't have the time and no one has offered to pay me to run those stats. I respect the effort and expense it cost to gather those data. I have done data collection and it took a lot of hours just to find the source to collect the data from and many, many more hours to collect the data. By comparison, the data reduction and analysis was easy: never took more than a day.

Running stats does not impress me. If you have the data and an Excel spreadsheet (or SPSS or SAS or R), you can run the stats. Knowing which data matters (versus which does not) and going out and collecting it impresses me.

You want Amazon to turn over data FOR FREE?

First, seems to me that you assume they kept that data. I agree they had to collect it in order to meet other contractual obligations, but I do not agree that they necessarily stored those data. Even if they did, I expect they kept them in a form that suited their purposes. I doubt that form suits my purposes.

Second, it cost Amazon $$ to collect those data. To report those data to numerous authors will cost $$. Who shall pay? Amazon? Why? (In response, I require a sufficient legal reason. 'To meet a contractual obligation' is a sufficient legal reason. There may be others I am unaware of; for instance, 'to comply with state law'.)

In closing, I salute you, Randy Ellefson. Live long and prosper. (I mean that. I didn't mean the 'little bastard' dig and I never should have written it. It was rude and thoughtless of me.)

Wayne McDonald said...

Broken Yogi, I think it depends how many people go on to buy the novel after reading it in KU too or buying another in a series. People argue about using KU for discoverability, but each time a book in KU generates a sale(that book itself or another of the author's books) Amazon is making 30%-65% even if that sold book wasn't itself in KU.

I'd love to see the stats on buyers who read a KU book and went on to purchase something by that author. No clue if it is a tiny percent or big. But if its $11million spread over 55 million(imaginary number for easy math, not sure if they ever posted it) books read a month. Then if it's even 1% additional sales that is 550K books. Each of which Amazon likely makes $1-$2 each depending on cover prices.

Broken Yogi said...

Anon dude, I know quite a few people who proudly call themselves and each other SJWs. It's not a pejorative by its nature, any more than calling someone a "liberal" is a pejorative just because FOX News uses the word that way. You're just being paranoid.

Broken Yogi said...

Wayne, no doubt Amazon is subsidizing KU because they think it will bring in more ancilliary business than it costs. It turns out KU subscribers still buy almost twice more books than the average Kindle owner.

Broken Yogi said...


Not sure where I read the 1.1 million subscriber figure. Probably on Kboards. Seems accurate to me though.

Amazon did say that there were about 2 billion page reads in the most recent month. (Again, probably from Kboards) Not sure how many borrows that comes to, but it's the equivalent of about 6 million 350 page books. That works out to about 5-6 long books a month per subscriber. Sounds like a good ballpark average.

Which I think helps explain why KU has changed their payment structure. Instead of 5-6 books a month borrowed per subscriber, the number of borrows has been much higher due to so many short works flooding the KU market. That has brought the average payment per borrow way down even though Amazon is pouring subsidies into the fund. So now the numbers will swing back up for most full-length books.

antares said...

@Wayne McDonald

I'd love to see the stats on buyers who read a KU book and went on to purchase something by that author.

I think you have touched on a point no one else has mentioned. At least, not to my knowledge.

That is, what will be the impact of KU2 on visibility?

It looks to me like the old strategy of 'permafree' is now obsolete. (Or is it?) Putting works in KU achieves substantially the same effect. The cost of the subscription is a sunken cost. Books in KU appear to be free.

I cannot say precisely what the impact of KU will be on visibility, but I am certain it will not be negligible.

Broken Yogi said...

"Novel-writers are upset that short story writers are making the same amount? That's where I say, sorry if that doesn't seem fair but that's the industry."

I think we have to look at "fairness" in the context of a business model rather than some sort of moral issue. There's nothing inherently unfair about short-story writers making more money than novelists. If that's what the market decides, that's just how it is. The thing is, however, that in the free market, short stories don't make more money than novels. People just aren't willing to pay as much for them. In KU 1.0, however, where every title was treated the same regardless of size, and where buyers weren't limited in how many titles they could read, they read a lot of short stories, but the authors got paid the same as a novelist for each title read (well, 10% read, which could be just 2-3 pages).

Now, if that model was working for both Amazon and KU subscribers, fine. That's fair then. But it wasn't. Novelists were pulling out of KU or not even going in. Short story writers were pumping material out as fast as they could to take advantage of the payment structure. And subscribers weren't liking that. It turns out they still wanted to read more quality novels than short stories. KU was becoming lopsided. So Amazon changed it. They didn't change it because they thought it was "unfair" to novelists, they changed it because it wasn't working for their business model. Sure, someone like Hugh Howey can claim that Amazon "listened" to him, but Amazon doesn't care if Hugh feels its been unfair. They only care how it affects their business model. They want Hugh's books in KU. If they have to change their payment system to make sure they get novelists like Hugh in KU, they will. It's not Amazon acting like some great arbiter of fairness in the sky decreeing that novels should be worth more than short stories. It's simply a business decision on their part.

And so complaining about "fairness" only matters to the degree that someone like Joe or Hugh will put their books in KU or take them out.

David Cobb said...

Amazon fan boy defends Amazon.

Big surprise.

Nirmala said...

Brantwijn said "You champion a system where authors should be paid by the word, rather than allow authors to receive royalties for a book written but not read? Then movie makers shouldn't charge for tickets until the movie's been seen and the audience says they like it. Cooks shouldn't be paid until their food is eaten and praised, and they should only be paid for the percentage of the food that is eaten."

You do realize we are talking about a subscription service where the reader pays a flat $9.99 per month and then reads as much as they like? This is more like a movie or music subscription where the user has $0.00 added cost to try out another song or movie or in the case of KU: book. It is more like an all you can eat buffet, where the customer can eat as much as they like, and in that case the restaurant only makes money if the amount collected from all customers is more than their costs for creating the buffet. I had a friend who could eat massive amounts of food at each sitting and then also could easily go without food for a couple of days. He entirely fed himself by visiting an all you can eat buffet every other day or so and sitting there stuffing himself for a couple of hours. Obviously, the restaurant lost money every time he walked in the door, but hopefully they made up for it with the lighter eaters.

Amazon is in the same position of needing to find a way to make this work for everyone involved, including voracious readers, and authors who voluntarily include their books for the greater visibility and the opportunity to make some money. There is no way Netflix or Spotify could survive if they had to pay the full price of a movie ticket or music download every time someone clicked on a movie or song to listen or watch for 30 seconds before deciding it was not to their taste, so they pay a much lower royalty per song or a flat licensing fee per movie. Nor can a restaurant pay its chef every time someone takes a bite of something at the buffet, so they pay their chef a salary or by the hour (I have never heard of any chef being paid by the meal or entree ordered so that metaphor is especially weak). Fortunately, most readers do not consume books at the same rate as most users of Netflix and Spotify consume movies and music, so Amazon has decided to encourage authors to include their books in KU by paying a more reasonable amount.

Can you think of a fairer way to divide up the subscription fees among the authors who's books are read in KU? If so, please tell us. The old way was unfair, and while there may be inequities in the new system, it is clearly much more fair overall.

Anonymous said...

I haven't sold many books but would have sold a lot less without Amazon. Write more books, get discovered, and don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Anonymous said...

One more reason to avoid the SJW term: it has it's origin in an anti-free speech mobilization.

The whole point of the Gamergate operation was to silence feminist voices in gaming. There was some "false flag" propaganda, that it was about "ethics in game journalism", but the targets were always female journalists, female academics, and female game developers.

And when I say targets I mean TARGETS. Rape threats, doxxing (publishing home addresses of the women to encourage vigilantism), inundating the victims with pornography, crap-flooding their discussions on Twitter and even phoning in a bomb threat to shut down a lecture at the University of Utah. This is all out there on the internet if you want to investigate.

The Gamergaters were enemies of free speech. Agree or disagree about a feminist critique of video games, but the critics definitely had the right to be heard. The GG'ers though couldn't tolerate them having their say, and essentially started acting like a hate group against them.

So, that's the origin of SJW. And people who know where that term came from (as many in this thread seem to) are going to associate it with anti-free speech silencing. Is that something a writer wants to be associated with?

Broken Yogi said...

I've heard the term SJW for years now, long before gamergate. And I heard it from SJWs themselves, who wore the title proudly. I gather the gamergaters picked up on it and used it pejoratively, but that doesn't mean they get to own it. My friends still calls themselves SJWs and don't give a damn what anyone thinks, much less the gamergaters.

JA Konrath said...

Amazon fan boy defends Amazon.

Big surprise.

Pinhead leaves stupid comment, contributes nothing to the discussion, or to society.

Big surprise.

Broken Yogi said...

Origins of term SJW:


Dan McClure said...

My only problem with KU is the exclusivity. Should a subscription service have exclusive rights on my work? Pandora plays Radiohead. Spotify plays Radiohead. Why can't KU and Nook play Grant Scotland? So, for now I'm opted out, but I'm keeping my eye on it. I got some decent borrows when I was opted in a few months ago. I just want to tack away from doing free give-aways for a bit and see how my books do during .99 cross-platform promos. We'll see.

Rex Kusler said...

"Anyone can get through 2 pages, even if the 2 pages are awful."

Most people these days can't get through 2 sentences.

Hope Welsh said...

If the payouts are similar to the June estimates, I'm doing just fine with the new method--but then, it seems most are reading my entire book.

I've always liked KU--both as an author and a reader. I don't see that changing anytime soon. Good article. Shared it on Facebook.

Terrence OBrien said...

There is an odd notion that Amazon has an obligation to provide programs that are beneficial to all authors. They don't.

Amazon owes nothing to authors. It's perfectly reasonable for Amazon to create a program that is beneficial to 25% of authors, but doesn't benefit the other 75%.

No retailer has any obligation to provide access to everyone who wants access.

Think they should run their company a different way? Fine. Go make a company and run it that way.

Any authors think they have an obligation to provide content to Amazon because Amazon wants them to?

Alan Spade said...

Sorry, this is unrelated to the subject, but the Fussy newsletter just informed me that Amazon is deleting reviews in order to get ride of bogus reviews. Again.


There's a petition going on. Maybe it would be a good idea to sign it.


Walter Spence said...

I'm less inclined to think of KU as something Amazon is completely focused on monetizing, and more inclined to think that KU may be considered a loss leader within the company, the purpose of which is to ensure continued and escalating sales (in addition to a larger market share) for Kindles, Kindle Fires, etc., by increasing the amount of content for current and future users to consume. Not that I believe they aren't interested in making money from KU specifically; only that that may not be their highest priority.

Just an observation.

Anonymous said...

You might get a chuckle out of this, Joe.


celtgirl68 said...

I write good sized books and so far, if the payouts are in the ballpark of the June estimates, I'm going to make a fair bit more under this new system than I did under the old.

Anonymous said...

The old system was unfair. So is the new one. I'm losing revenue over the change. As a result, I'm moving some titles out of KU. No big deal. My only complaint was how quickly Amazon did it.

I anticipate that I'll make more money outside of Select now, which is fine by me. I may go to Smashwords with those titles. Amazon's loss.

Simon Goodson said...

While I agree with most of the article I think book subscription services are more like Netflix and other film services than Spotify, here in the UK at least. Netflix offers a good selection but far from everything so we still end up paying for additional films, because we want them, whereas Spotify has almost all the music I'd ever want.

I'm not sure how that's going to play out if several big players have lots of exclusive books in their libraries - it's a lot of hassle to get books from multiple vendors onto one ereader, at least compared to getting them directly from the eReader's store. Now if Amazon dropped the exclusive requirement (unlikely I know!) I'd sign up to KU like a shot. For the moment I'm keeping my books out at Nook, Apple, Kobo and the rest.

Unknown said...

Joe, have you noticed any impact (positive or negative) on the ranks of your individual books since the borrow program was initiated?

The reason I ask is that I'm seeing a trend of growing borrows (and complete read-throughs), but declining sales. This is having an associated negative impact on my sales rank. Shouldn't the read-throughs/borrows be calculated into a book's sales rank?