Kobo Plus ebook subscription service switches to paying authors on the basis of ‘minutes consumed’

Kobo has shifted author payments on its ebook subscription service Kobo Plus from a rate based on list price for each time a book is read to a system built on ‘minutes consumed’.

This is a basis that I have never heard of before, although, of course, it makes sense in terms of audiobooks, which have recently been added to Kobo Plus, but it seems that the company is applying the system to audiobooks and ebooks. Kobo has been good enough to set out in some detail what it entails.

This is what Kobo has to say about the new system, although I consider that the figures given in this example are meaningless. Please note that Kobo gives the figures in this example in dollars, although Kobo Plus is available to readers only in Belgium and the Netherlands:

Kobo Plus payments are paid out from the pool of revenue earned from Kobo Plus subscribers. The payment rate for Kobo Writing Life authors is 60%.

The payout is based on a couple of factors. First, we take Minutes Consumed, which is the combined number of minutes read by paying subscribers in a given month. This is then used to calculate the value of minutes consumed.

Value per Minute Consumed = Monthly Kobo Plus Revenue / Minutes Consumed

Next, this value is used to calculate the payment that the author receives, based on the number of minutes that have been consumed for a specific title.

Kobo Plus Payments = Value per Minute Consumed X Minutes Consumed X 60%

Let’s look at an example:

Monthly Kobo Plus Revenue: $50

Book A: Minutes Consumed: 18,000

Book B: Minutes Consumed: 49,000


Value per Minute Consumed: $50 / (18,000 + 49,000) = $0.0007


Kobo Plus Payments, Book A: (18,000 X $0.0007) X 60% = $7.56

Kobo Plus Payments, Book B: (49,000 X $0.0007) X 60% = $20.58

Kobo claims Kobo Plus has been very successful since its launch in February 2017 and various estimates put total membership at somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000. The service is available only to readers in the Netherlands and Belgium and there are three levels of membership — €8.99 for audiobooks only, €9.99 for ebooks only, and €12.99 for combination of ebooks and audiobooks. It has nearly 350,000 ebooks and audiobooks available under the scheme.

If the service really does have 150,000 paying members then it should be pulling in around €1.5 million a month, which is a very decent amount for a relatively small European market. Kobo runs the service in conjunction with European online retailer Bol.com.

Independent authors and publishers based around the world can enrol their ebooks and audiobooks in Kobo Plus direct through the Kobo Writing Life portal or through ebook distributors, including Draft2digital, PublishDrive. and Streetlib.

Scribd is now the only ebook subscription service that pays authors on the basis of a book’s list price as Kindle Unlimited moved to paying on the basis of pages read in summer 2017.

Kobo Plus goes Dutch to launch ebook subscription service with ‘fair-share’ payouts to authors