What do Amazon’s new Kindle Direct Publishing terms and conditions mean for authors?

If you’re an author/publisher with books published on Kindle, some of you might have seen the new Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions popping up when you try to log in to your account.

You have to tick the box to agree to the new T&Cs to continue with your KDP account, but have you ever bothered to read the T&Cs before agreeing? For many people, the small print and legalese of terms and conditions is too tedious to wade through, so they tick the box and forget about them. But what are you letting yourself in for?

The good news is there isn’t much in the way of real changes and shocks in the new T&Cs, and, in fact, Amazon seem to have set out at least some of the terms and conditions in plainer English, which is a welcome development.

Some authors have probably never read through the terms and conditions, so it’s worth checking over the T&Cs to get a clear picture of just what you’re signing up for with Kindle Direct Publishing. Here are some of the main points, with the Amazon T&Cs first and my summing-up following.

Term and Termination

The term of this Agreement will begin upon your acceptance of it and will continue until it is terminated by us or by you. We are entitled to terminate this Agreement and your access to your Program account at any time. We will notify you upon termination. You are entitled to terminate at any time by providing us notice of termination, in which event we will cease selling your Digital Books within 5 business days from the date you provide us notice of termination. We may also suspend your Program account at any time with or without notice to you, for any reason in our discretion. Following termination or suspension, we may fulfill any customer orders for your Digital Books pending as of the date of termination or suspension, and we may continue to maintain digital copies of your Digital Books in order to provide continuing access to or re-downloads of your Digital Books or otherwise support customers who have purchased a Digital Book prior to termination or suspension. The following provisions of this Agreement will survive termination of this Agreement: Sections 1, 3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and any other provisions that, by their nature, are intended to survive. All rights to Digital Books acquired by customers will survive termination.

What this means

Amazon can end the agreement at any time and block access to your account at any time, but they will tell you they are doing so. They can also suspend your account at any time for any reason (in their discretion), and they don’t have to tell you.

You can quit at any time and Amazon will stop selling your books within five days of you telling them you want out.

Account Eligibility and Registration

4.1 Eligibility. You must have an active Program account in order to participate in the Program. You represent that you are at least 18 years old (or the age of majority where you reside, whichever is older), and that you are able to form a legally binding contract. A parent or guardian of a minor can open a KDP account and be the Publisher of the minor’s Digital Book.

What this means

You’ve got to be 18 or over to open a KDP account, but a parent or guardian can set up an account for your book if you are younger.

5 Digital Book Distribution Rights.

5.1 Delivery, Acceptance and Withdrawal.

5.1.2 Content Requirements. You must ensure that all Digital Book content is in compliance with our Program Policies for content at the time you submit it to us. If you discover that content you have submitted does not comply, you must immediately withdraw the content by un-publishing it or by re-publishing content that complies through the Program procedures for Digital Book withdrawal or re-publishing. We are entitled to remove or modify the metadata and product description you provide for your Digital Books for any reason, including if we determine that it does not comply with our content requirements. We may also remove all or any part of your Digital Book’s cover art for any reason, including if we determine that it does not comply with our content requirements. You may not include in any Digital Book any advertisements or other content that is primarily intended to advertise or promote products or services. You must ensure that all metadata you provide to us is current, complete, and accurate. If you discover that any metadata you have provided to us for a Digital Book is inaccurate or incomplete, you must promptly submit corrected metadata to us through the Program procedures for metadata submission.

What this means

Amazon can withdraw your book if it doesn’t meet with their guidelines. They can also remove or change your metadata and book description if it doesn’t meet their requirements. The book’s cover can also be removed if it falls foul of Amazon’s rules.

Your book should not include any advertisements or content that primarily promotes products or services.

5.2 Marketing and Promotion, Reviews, Lending Kindle Books and Optional Programs and Services

5.2.1 Marketing and Promotion. We will have sole discretion in determining all marketing and promotions related to the sale of your Digital Books through the Program and may, without limitation, market and promote your Digital Books by making chapters or portions of your Digital Books available to prospective customers without charge, and by permitting prospective customers to see excerpts of your Digital Books in response to search queries. We will not owe you any fees for any marketing or promotional efforts. You acknowledge that we have no obligation to market, distribute, or offer for sale any Digital Book, or to continuing marketing, distributing or selling a Digital Book after we have commenced doing so.

What this means

Amazon might promote your book but they are under no obligation to do so or to continue any marketing they might have started.

5.2.3 Lending Kindle Books

The Kindle Book Lending program enables customers who purchase a Digital Book to lend it subject to limitations we establish from time to time. All Digital Books made available through the Program are automatically included in the Kindle Book Lending program. However, for Digital Books that are in the 35% Royalty Option (as described in the Pricing Page), you may choose to opt out of the Kindle Book Lending program. This will disable lending of the Digital Book by customers who purchase it after you have opted it out, but this will not affect the right of customers who purchased it when lending was enabled to continue to lend it. You may not choose to opt out a Digital Book if it is included in the lending program of another sales or distribution channel. If we become aware that a Digital Book you have opted out is included in the lending program of another sales or distribution channel, we may enable it for lending. Digital Books that are in the 70% Royalty Option (as described in the Pricing Page) cannot be opted out of the lending feature.

What this means

Somebody who has bought your book can lend it to someone else (the original buyer can’t read the book while it’s out on loan). This isn’t to be confused with Kindle Unlimited or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). This lending refers to individuals who want to loan out books they have bought.

All KDP ebooks are automatically included in the lending program, but you can opt out if you’ve got your book on a 35% royalty option. If you’ve chosen a 70% royalty, then you can’t opt out of lending.

5.3 Pricing

5.3.1 Providing Your List Price. You will provide a list price through the KDP website for each Digital Book you submit to us. The list price you provide will be exclusive of value-added or similar taxes that are included within the customer purchase price of a product (“VAT”). The VAT-exclusive list price you provide to us is referred to in this Agreement as your “List Price.” If we display a digital list price to customers, we may add applicable VAT to the List Price you provide to determine the digital list price that we display. You may change your List Price through the KDP website, and your change will be effective within 5 business days. The Pricing Page has additional requirements for List Prices that you must comply with.

What this means

The price you set for your book does not include any taxes, such as VAT. Amazon will add any taxes applicable to your price.

You can change your list price and it will be effective within five business day (in practice, this is much quicker, generally just a few hours).

5.3.4 Customer Prices

To the extent not prohibited by applicable laws, we have sole and complete discretion to set the retail customer price at which your Digital Books are sold through the Program. We are solely responsible for processing payments, payment collection, requests for refunds and related customer service, and will have sole ownership and control of all data obtained from customers and prospective customers in connection with the Program.

What this means

Amazon can set whatever price they want for your book, and they will keep all the customer data.

5.4 Royalties and Payments.

5.4.2 When We Pay You.

Each Amazon party will pay Royalties due on Digital Book sales approximately 60 days following the end of the calendar month during which the sales were made. At the time of payment, we will make available to you an online report detailing sales of Digital Books and corresponding Royalties.

What this means

You get paid for sales about two months or so after the sales happened and you get an online report giving details of the sales and royalties paid. This isn’t a bad deal really in publishing terms, as traditional publishers shell out only twice a year, with some of them only paying annually.

5.4.8 Taxes

The Amazon parties (or their affiliates) are responsible for collecting and remitting any and all taxes imposed on their respective sales of Digital Books to customers. You are responsible for any income or other taxes due and payable resulting from payments to you by an Amazon party under this Agreement. Accordingly, unless otherwise stated, the amounts due to you hereunder are inclusive of any taxes that may apply to such payments. The Amazon parties maintain the right, however, to deduct or withhold any and all applicable taxes from amounts due by them to you, and the amounts due, as reduced by those deductions or withholdings, will constitute full payment and settlement to you.

What this means

Amazon will pay any taxes due on the sale of ebooks, but you are responsible for any income tax. In practice, Amazon will withhold about 30% of royalties on Amazon.com sales in lieu of income tax for non-US authors if they haven’t filed an EIN waiver.

6 Ownership and Control of Amazon Properties/Feedback

Subject to the authorizations you grant to us under this Agreement, as between us and you, you retain all ownership rights in and to the copyrights and all other rights and interest in and to your Digital Books. We retain all ownership rights in and to the copyrights and all other rights and interests in and to the Program, the Amazon Properties, and any materials we use or provide to you for use relating to your Digital Book (such as a generic cover image used for your Digital Book if you do not provide one). We are solely responsible for, and will have full discretion with respect to the terms, features, and operation of the Program and the Amazon Properties and related marketing, but our use of the Digital Books will be subject to the terms of this Agreement. In the event that you elect to provide suggestions, ideas, or other feedback to Amazon or any of its affiliates in connection with the Amazon Properties or the Program (“Feedback”), Amazon and its affiliates will be free to use and exploit the same in any manner without restriction and without any need to compensate you. This Agreement does not grant you any license or other rights to any intellectual property or technology owned or operated by us or any of our affiliates, including, without limitation, any trademarks or trade names. Nothing in this Agreement restricts any rights we may have under applicable law or a separate permission.

What this means

This is a very important point. You keep ownership rights and the copyright of your books.

8 Limitation of Liability


What this means

Well, there’s no need to shout. This is the only section of the T&Cs that’s all in caps, perhaps someone inadvertently hit the Caps Lock key, we’ve all done it, or maybe Amazon are just trying to put over the point very emphatically that they CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE for anything that goes wrong. It’s all a very complex system, you know.

9 Force Majeure

Amazon will not be liable to you for any failure or delay in the performance of its obligations under this Agreement caused by any event or circumstance beyond its control, including, but not limited to, denial-of-service attacks, insurrection, fires, flood, storm, explosions, acts of God, war, terrorism, and labor conditions.

What this means

And just to make the point very clear indeed, Amazon throw in the old Force Majeure to shore up their defenses and make sure they can’t be held culpable due to such trifles as insurrections or Acts of God.

Terms and Conditions for KDP Select Program

KDP Select is an option for KDP publishers. While enrolled in KDP Select, your Digital Book must be exclusive to Kindle and will be included in Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library where it will be eligible to earn a share of a monthly cash fund. Additionally, by including your Digital Book in KDP Select, your Digital Book will be eligible for various other KDP Select Benefits, including enrollment in Kindle Countdown Deals, free promotions, and the ability to earn 70% royalty for sales to customers in territories outlined in the Pricing Page.

What this means

If you sign up for KDP Select, your ebook must be available exclusively on Kindle. It will be made available on Kindle Unlimited and KOLL, and you are also eligible to run free promotions, or a Countdown deal, and you can now opt for 70% royalties in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India, where you would only get get 35% if you’re not in KDP Select.

The KDP Select term is for 90 days and will be automatically renewed unless you opt out.

Terms and Conditions for KDP Pre-Orders

You may make an eligible Digital Book that meets pre-order requirements available for customer pre-order up to 90 days in advance of that Digital Book’s official release date.

1 Enrollment. You may make your eligible Digital Book available for pre-order by choosing “pre-order” as your book release option during title set-up. We have established important deadlines for pre-order enrollment to ensure a positive customer experience. If you miss these deadlines, we may suspend your access to pre-order and customer pre-orders may be cancelled. For additional details on pre-order enrollment and requirements, please see the KDP pre-orders page.

2 Publisher Payments. Royalties for pre-order sales will be paid approximately 60 days following the end of the calendar month of the Digital Book’s actual release date.

3 Pre-Order Price Guarantee. Amazon offers customers a Pre-order Price Guarantee for pre-orders on certain Amazon websites that guarantees that a customer is charged the lowest price offered by Amazon between the time the customer places the order and the end of the day of the release date. As a result, if you lower the List Price of a Digital Book while it is available for pre-order, we may charge customers that pre-ordered that Digital Book before the price decrease the lower price. Your Royalty will be based on the actual price we charge customers as a result of our Pre-order Price Guarantee, net of refunds, bad debt, and any VAT, sales or other taxes charged to a customer or applied with respect to sales to a customer.

What this means

Pre-orders are the happening new thing in the world of Kindle publishing. They were only introduced a few months ago, and could provide a good boost for self-published authors who are now on more level terms with traditional publishers.

  • You don’t have to be in KDP Select to use pre-orders.
  • You can make your book available as a pre-order up to 90 days before publication, but you need to stick with your schedule and upload the final book at least 10 days before the release date.
  • You’ll get paid for pre-orders a couple of months after the book is published.
  • If you cut the price during the pre-order period, then anyone who ordered the book before the price reduction will get it at the lower price and you’ll be paid at that lower price point.


You can choose between 2 royalty options for each of your Digital Books, the 35% royalty option and the 70% royalty option.

Delivery Costs

Not applicable under 35% Royalty option. We don’t deduct Delivery Costs when calculating your Royalties.

Under the 70% Royalty option, Delivery Costs are equal to the number of megabytes we determine your Digital Book file contains, multiplied by the Delivery Cost rate listed below.

Amazon.com: US $0.15/MB
India on Amazon.com: INR ₹7/MB
Amazon CA: CAD $0.15/MB
Brazil: BRL R$0.30/MB
Amazon.co.uk: UK £0.10/MB
Amazon.de: €0,12/MB
Amazon.fr: €0,12/MB
Amazon.es: €0,12/MB
Amazon.it: €0,12/MB
Amazon.co.jp: ¥1/MB
Amazon.com.mx: MXN $1/MB
Amazon.com.au: AUD $0.15/MB

We will round file sizes up to the nearest kilobyte. The minimum Delivery Cost for a Digital Book will be US$0.01 for sales in US Dollars, INR₹1 for sales in Indian Rupees, CAD$0.01 for sales in CAD Dollars, £0.01 for sales in GB Pounds, ¥1 in JPY, R$0.01 for sales in Brazilian Reais, MXN$1 for sales in Mexican Pesos, AUD$0.01 for sales in Australian Dollars, and €0.01 for sales in Euros, regardless of file size. For sales in JPY, we will not deduct any Delivery Cost for books 10 MB or greater.

D. Matching Competitor Prices From time to time your book may be made available through other sales channels as part of a free promotion. It is important that Digital Books made available through the Program have promotions that are on par with free promotions of the same book in another sales channel. Therefore if your Digital Book is available through another sales channel for free, we may also make it available for free. Under the 35% Royalty option, if we match a free promotion of your Digital Book somewhere else, your Royalty during that promotion will be zero.

(Unlike under the 70% Royalty Option, if we match a price for your Digital Book that is above zero, it won’t change the calculation of your Royalties indicated in C. above.) If we price-match your Digital Book, your Royalty under the 70% option will be:

The Royalty Rate indicated above, multiplied by the price at which we sell the Digital Book, less taxes and Delivery Costs, for sales to customers in the Available Sales Territories.

Royalty Rate x (Amazon price – taxes and Delivery Costs) = Royalty

By “price-match” we mean where we sell the Digital Book in one or more of the Available Sales Territories at a price (net of taxes) that is below the List Price to match a third party’s sales price for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book, or to match our sales price for any physical edition of the Digital Book, in any one of the Available Sales Territories.

2. Royalty Calculation Examples
A. 35% Royalty Option.
i. Example:
• U.S. Dollar List Price = $0.99.
• We aren’t matching a free promotion on another sales channel.
• Your Royalty per sale to a customer in any location from Amazon.com is:
0.35 x $0.99 = $0.35
Royalty Rate x List Price = Royalty

ii. Example:
• Same as above but we’re matching a free promotion on another sales channel.
• Your Royalty is zero.

B. 70% Royalty Option.
i. Example:
• UK Pounds List Price = £1.49.
• UK Delivery Costs = £0.10/MB
• Book’s file size is 1 MB
• We don’t price-match your book.
• Your Royalty per sale to a UK customer from Amazon.co.uk is:0.70 x (£1.49 – £0.10) = £0.97
Royalty Rate x (List Price – Delivery Costs) = Royalty

ii. Example:
• Same as above except we price-match your book to a competitor’s tax-inclusive price of £1.39.
• Your royalty per sale to a UK customer from Amazon.co.uk is:0.70 x (£1.39 – £0.04 – £0.10) = £0.87
Royalty Rate x (Amazon price – taxes – Delivery Costs) = Royalty

In this example, we deduct £0.04 for taxes, equal to 3% of the sale price. Effective January 1, 2012, when we sell a Digital Book to an EU customer from one of our EU websites, the price includes value-added tax at the rate of 3%, the statutory Luxembourg rate. Tax rates for sales in other countries and from other Amazon websites may vary.

C. 35% Royalty Option for Promotional List Price
i. Example:
• U.S. Dollar List Price = $1.99.
• U.S. Dollar Promotional List Price = $0.99.
• We aren’t matching a free promotion on another sales channel.
• Your Royalty per sale to a customer in any location from Amazon.com is:
0.35 x $0.99 = $0.35
Royalty Rate x List Price = Royalty

ii. Example:
• Same as above but we’re matching a free promotion on another sales channel.
• Your Royalty is zero.

iii. Example:
• Same as above but book is listed as a Free Book Promotion through KDP Select.
• Your Royalty is zero.

D. 70% Royalty Option for Promotional List Price
i. Example:
• U.S. Dollar List Price = $5.99.
• U.S. Dollar Promotional List Price = $1.99.
• U.S. Delivery Costs = $0.15/MB
• Book’s file size is 1 MB
• We aren’t matching a free promotion on another sales channel.
• Your Royalty per sale to a customer in any location from Amazon.com is:
0.70 x ($1.99 – $0.15) = $1.29
Royalty Rate x (List Price – Delivery Costs) = Royalty

ii. Example:
• Same as above but we’re matching a free promotion on another sales channel.
• Your Royalty is zero.

iii. Example:
• Same as above but book is listed as a Free Book Promotion through KDP Select.
• Your Royalty is zero.

3. Changing Your Royalty Options

If you would like to make changes to your Royalty options, just visit your Bookshelf. It may take up to 48 hours for your change to be effective.

4. Setting Your List Price

You must set your Digital Book’s List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book.

But if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.

By “list price in any sales channel,” we mean the suggested or recommended retail price or, if you sell your book directly to end users, your own sales price, for an edition of the book available outside of our Program.

When you set your List Price for our EU websites, you have to factor in the additional 3% value-added taxes (the Luxembourg statutory rate effective January 1, 2012) we will add for EU customers, so that your List Price complies with this section after adding these VAT taxes.

6. Other Pricing Terms

i. Minimum and Maximum List Prices: To be accepted in the Program, Digital Books must have List Prices within the range of minimum and maximum List Prices indicated here.
Note that if your Digital Book is eligible for the 70% royalty option, your Digital Book will earn 70% on each sale of the Digital Book at a Promotional List Price set under the Kindle MatchBook program or the Kindle Countdown Deals program regardless of whether the Promotional List Price is within the maximum and minimum list price requirements for the 70% royalty option.

ii. Price Matching Determinations : If you notify us through Contact Us (by selecting the topic Pricing & Royalties – Price Matching) that you believe we have made an error in price-matching your Digital Book, we will review the issue and make best efforts to correct the error, if any, going forward as soon as practicable.

What this means

Take a deep breath, there’s a lot here, but it can all be summed up fairly easily. I’ve included some of the royalty examples as they do spell out how Amazon calculates payments.

You have the option of 35% or 70% royalties. There are price limits for each of the options. To qualify for 70% payments, your book must be priced between $2.99 and $9.99 in the US, £1.49 and £7.81 in the UK, and €2.60 and €9.70 in the eurozone. Anything under or over this range qualifies only for 35%.

An ebook on the 70% royalty option must also be at least 20% cheaper than the print book, if there is one available.

We then come to one of my major hates – the so-called Delivery Costs.

Now Amazon don’t have to pay for postage, packing, fuel, vehicles, drivers or even drones to deliver ebooks, they just use their massive server farms and bandwidth to send a measly few Megabytes to a buyer. It’s not even as if Amazon are strapped for server space.

Google and Yahoo will let you send an email attachment of up to 25Mb and that’s for free, so why can’t Amazon do the same with Kindle? Amazon charges $0.15 per Megabyte for Kindle delivery costs. Can you imagine if Google suddenly started charging you $1.50 to send a 10Mb email attachment?

Amazon don’t charge delivery costs on the 35% royalty option, only on the 70% option, which makes it even more obvious that it’s not really a cost but an imposed fee. They don’t charge for storage of your book, just for delivering it.

This a short-sighted policy that is holding back the development of well-illustrated ebooks. It even has an effect on the quality of covers as Amazon include the size of the cover when they calculate the size of your book file. It’s particularly vexing as Amazon raised the size and quality guidelines for covers not that long ago, so they encourage authors and publishers to produce hefty file sizes and then charge them for doing so.

Nobody on the 70% option escapes delivery costs as there’s a minimum set, regardless of file size, of $0.01 in the US, £0.01 in the UK and €0.01 in the eurozone, which really is nickel and diming.

Strangely, there’s also a line in the T&Cs I’ve never noticed before, which says: For sales in JPY, we will not deduct any Delivery Cost for books 10 MB or greater.

This reads to me as if Amazon are saying, any book in Japan of less than 10Mb will incur delivery costs, while anything over 10Mb will not, the logic of which escapes me.

Amazon should scrap delivery costs for all territories up to at least 10Mb. Authors could then be free to use quality artwork for covers and interiors, raising the standard of ebooks overall, without having to raise their prices for consumers to cover delivery fees.

Anyway, delivery cost rant over, the fact is that if you opt for 70% royalties, when a sale is made, the delivery costs and taxes are deducted from the list price you have set before the royalty is calculated.

Amazon will also price-match if your book is available elsewhere at a cheaper price (or is free) than has been set for Kindle. You will then get a zero royalty if the book is available free or paid a royalty at the cheaper price point, which may also be at a lower royalty rate option, depending if the price being matched falls outside the 70% price limits.

If you are in KDP Select and are running a Kindle Countdown deal, you can still get 70% royalties even if your Countdown price is outside the 70% price limits, so long as the ‘normal’ list price qualifies for 70%. For example, if you had a book listed at $2.99, qualifying for 70%, and ran a Countdown deal starting at $0.99 (which would normally be only a 35% royalty), you would still get a 70% royalty at the $0.99 price point.

And that, finally, concludes my run-through of the terms and conditions for Kindle Direct Publishing. I hope it’s been useful. There’s a lot of technical detail to take in with KDP and it’s important to get at least an overall grasp of the scheme to price and promote your ebooks effectively.