Amazon’s KDP Select has evolved rapidly since its launch in 2011, with new developments being added every year. This program has seen lots of growth on both ends – the self-publishers that choose to enroll their eBooks in KDP Select as well as Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library subscribers.
But… you may be amongst the seemingly many people that find themselves in a mild state of confusion about this program and all the specifics around it – how exactly does all of this work? How does Amazon pay publishers for Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library borrows? Is the KDP Select enrollment worth the exclusivity? And what the heck is that KENPC?
With the intention of clearing up these muddy waters, I have written this guide to KDP Select and everything related to it – the promotional tools, Kindle Unlimited, Kindle Owners Lending Library and Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count.
More specifically, in this article you will learn about:
- Part 1: KDP Select – what this program is all about and how it has evolved over the year.
- The benefits & drawbacks of KDP Select as well as some useful pointers to help you decide whether it’s the right choice for you
- Part 2: Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL) and what you need to know about these programs as a self-publisher
- Part 3: All about Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) + a free bonus: KENPC Payout Calculator
- The KDP Select global fund size and KENPc per page payouts over the past year – visualized in charts
Part 1: Enter KDP Select
Basically, KDP Select is a unique program that Amazon offers to self-publishers through their Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Amazon allows you to enroll each of your books for a period of 90 days during which you gain access to promotional tools, opportunities for additional income and exposure, in exchange for publishing your book exclusively on Amazon.
Here’s a brief look at how KDP Select and KDP as a whole has evolved over its relatively short existence.
A pretty rapid evolution, right? Now that you’ve been filled in about the history of KDP, let’s have a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of the KDP Select deal.
KDP Select – What You Get and What You Give Up
To re-iterate what KDP Select is in a visually more pleasing way, here’s a part of an infographic that we recently made:
You can check out the full version of the infographic here.
KDP Select allows you to choose one of two promotional tools for each book that’s enrolled:
- 5 free promotion days. Looks something like this:
The kindle free promotion can be useful for the launch of your eBook because:
- it can be a good way to get your book its first reviews,
- once the free promo days end, Amazon’s algorithm will translate the free downloads as sales (not one-to-one but they do have an effect), which can help to give your book some additional initial boost,
- you can use the exposure to increase sales for other eBooks that are not free, to grow your email list etc.
- 5 countdown deal days. Looks like this:
Alternatively to the kindle free promotion, KDP Select also offers 5 countdown deal days. What sets the countdown deal apart from simply lowering the price of your book are the following 2 elements.
Firstly, your ebook’s price will show as discounted along with a countdown timer. This will serve to boost your kindle book’s conversion rates (conversions from potential customers to customers), which in turn will boost you in bestseller rankings.
And, two – during this period, your royalty rate will be retained – you will still earn the same royalty rate as prior to the discount period. If, for example, your eBook is normally priced at $2.99 at a 70% royalty rate and for the countdown deal you lower it to $0.99, during the promotion you will still keep that same 70% royalty rate.
- Additional earnings from Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library.
If you choose to enroll your eBook in KDP Select, on top of regular eBook sales, you will earn income from people who have borrowed and read your eBook through Kindle Unlimited as well as Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.
More on these programs further along in the article.
- Additional exposure from Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library.
Amazon is B-I-G. And there are maaany people enrolled in these programs. If your book is enrolled in KDP Select, some of these people will be able to access and read your book at no extra cost to them. These people may be people who you wouldn’t have reached otherwise. Also, we have to note that KU and KOLL borrows will have an impact on your bestseller rankings which also play a significant part in the scheme of things.
The KDP Select agreement requires you to publish your eBook EXCLUSIVELY on Amazon. Nowhere else, just Amazon. You have to forego selling your eBook on Barnes & Noble, the iBook store and any other e-retailer.
Many self-publishers are willing to pay this price because, as you just saw, KDP Select really does offer some potentially powerful benefits. For others, however, the exclusivity can be a total deal breaker and going wide is a better choice.
What’s best for you?
To get a better idea of whether you should or should not enroll, you have to get clear on 2 key questions.
First – what exactly are your goals?
Are you trying to maximize sales and income, get on a bestseller list, gain exposure or gain credibility? And then – will KDP Select help me reach these goals? Or will it keep me from reaching them?
Overall, for most cases, it’s safe to say that if you do not enroll in KDP Select, you are at a disadvantage.
Conversely, if you have an established reader base that expects to find your work on other platforms like Barnes & Noble or perhaps the iBook store, not enrolling could actually be for the best.
Secondly, where is your audience – where do they hang out online?
If you have multiple books written/produced (or in the works) another smart strategy can be to go for a combined model – enrolling one eBook and not enrolling others. In terms of exposure and getting your name out there this can be a very effective strategy.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this; it’s a matter of getting clear on your strategy and understanding your audience.
Alright, with this part covered, let’s break down Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library, and their parts.
Part 2: Kindle Unlimited (KU) and Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL)
Kindle Unlimited is a monthly subscription service, where customers pay a monthly fee of $9.99 in exchange for access to a large catalog of eBooks that are enrolled in this program. You can think of it as a Netflix for eBooks. Kindle Unlimited allows users to access a vast catalog of eBooks and keep 10 eBooks at a time.
As you saw in the KDP timeline graphic, for a period of time Amazon paid for borrowed books once a reader reached 10% of a book’s length. However, this system turned out to be unfair to those who published longer length eBooks, since this payment system incentivises self-publishers to create short eBooks.
Eventually having understood this, in July, 2015 Amazon changed the terms of KDP Select, switching the payment model to total pages read.
This seems to be a much better model that places more emphasis on quality, rewarding authors and publishers for the quantity of their content that readers actually read.
Yes, there are people with not-so-good intentions who found ways to abuse this model. No need to be alarmed, however, because Amazon seems to have made moves to tackle this issue in the most recent KENPC update.
Kindle Owners Lending Library is a similar program that is a feature of the Amazon Prime program. Through KOLL prime users can keep and read one eBook at a time.
Whilst KU and KOLL are two separate programs, publishers are paid for readers pages read from BOTH programs with the same unified page count system. That system is called Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC).
Every month Amazon allocates a certain amount of money for the KDP Select Global Fund which gets divided amongst self-publishers for the KENP pages read of their books.
The basic calculation looks like this: Global Fund / total pages read = per page payout rate
The KDP Select Global Fund for Kindle Unlimited and KOLL payouts over the past year:
In 2016, Amazon paid out a total of $186,000,000 to self-publishers. On top of these sums, they have also paid out All Star bonuses.
When the program first launched in July 2014, the monthly fund was $2.5 million. Currently, in 2017, the monthly fund size has grown to around $18 million. That’s a 720% increase in 3 years which tells us that these programs have seen strong growth in subscribers and we can expect the evolution to continue.
Part 3: Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC)
The Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count or KENPC in short is a unified measurement system of kindle book pages. As of August 1, KENPC is already at its third iteration – KENPC V3.0. Amazon uses KENPC to count and keeping track of pages read of all eBooks that are borrowed via Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Owner’s Lending Library across all the different devices – various models of the kindle, the kindle app for smartphones etc. Then KENPC lets Amazon fairly determine your share of the global fund.
Since Amazon made this change in the system, self-publishers are no longer able to see how many people have borrowed their books, only the total quantity of pages read.
Another element worth noting is that the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count is different than the actual page count of your book in paperback form.
Q: How can I find out how many KENP pages my book has?
A: If you have already enrolled in KDP Select and you want to find out exactly how many KENP pages your book has, go to your KDP Bookshelf and click the Promote and Advertise button for whichever book you want to know the page count.
Your KENP page count will be displayed in the “Earn Royalties from The KDP Select Global Fund” box.
Q: How much will I get paid for my KENP pages read?
A:Whilst you can’t find out exactly how much you’ll be paid for KENPC pages read before Amazon releases your monthly payment report, you can make fairly accurate estimates. The KENPC per page payout has been around $0.0045 in the last months.
First you need to find out how many of your book’s KENP pages have been read. To do that go to the ‘reports’ tab in your dashboard. KDP will display the data in nice orange bar charts.
The calculation you have to make is:
KENP pages read * 0.0044 = your approximate KENP payment
Note that ‘0.0044’ is an estimation that I chose based on the payout trend of the previous months.
The KENPC Payout Calculator
To make things easier for you, we have made a free KENPC payout calculator which estimates your KENP monthly payout in USD, GBP and GBP. The estimate is based on previous month’s per page payouts.
The elements that make up each month’s KENPC per page payout are:
Global Fund / total pages read = per page payout rate
A) KDP Select Global Fund – based on the number of members enrolled in Kindle Unlimited & KOLL and by extension the revenue that these programs generate, KDP adds a certain in the KDP Select Global Fund (recently around 18 million).
B) Total pages read – the total number of pages that the KU and KOLL readers read in any given month. Amazon does not explicitly disclose this number but we can easily calculate it with some simple math. In June 2017 the total number of KENPC pages read was 4.27 billion. Even though this number by itself is quite meaningless, it’s fun to contemplate the vast quantity of pages being read by the people in these programs.
How many people are in these programs? Well.. unfortunately this is one of the many things Amazon does not disclose, and understandably so. We can only make speculations and calculated guesses.
C) Per page payout rate – dividing the 2 metrics described above, will give you the per page payout rate. You can see it in your payments reports in your KDP dashboard.
Here’s the KENP per page payout trend over the past year:
Over 2016, the average payout per page was $0.00487, just under half a cent.
- With KDP Select you get access to potentially effective marketing tools and you gain additional income and exposure from their loan-based programs. In exchange, you have to agree to sell your eBook exclusively on Amazon.
- Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners Lending Library are loan-based programs allowing readers to read books without owning a copy. Amazon pays publishers for books borrowed for the number of pages read using their KENPC page count system.
- The KDP Select Global Fund has been on a consistent upward trend. This indicates that the program is holding strong and we can expect further developments to keep unfolding.
- In 2016, Amazon paid out a total of $186,000,000 for eBooks borrowed through KU and KOLL. The average KENP per-page payout rate was $0.00487.
I hope this makes things much more clear and understandable!
What are your thoughts about these programs? Leave a comment and let me know.