The long and the short of the new Kindle Unlimited KENPC recount

Amazon has recalculated ebook lengths on its Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service and there have been significant changes with some fiction authors seeing falls of 10% or more while some non-fiction titles have gained.

Under the fantastically named KENPC v2.0 (Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count), Amazon claims ‘the average KENPC will change by less than 5%, although individual books’ changes may be bigger or smaller’.

Amazon says the update ‘makes a number of improvements to how we standardize font, line height, and spacing used to normalize the length of each book relative to one another’.

The new KENPC version has been applied to all KDP Select books and the new counts came into operation on February 1. All future royalties will be paid on the basis of KENPC 2.0 regardless of when the ebook was downloaded or which version a customer is reading.

The various KDP forums are full of authors reporting falls in their KENP counts of more than 5%, although there are also some who have had rises.

My own non-fiction ebook, Make The Most Of Your Blog, has seen a 22% increase in its KENP count to 175 under v2.0 from an initially set 143. The book runs to 13,480 words but also includes over 150 images, largely screen shots. Many ebooks containing pictures were reckoned to have been hit hard by the first version of KENPC so perhaps Amazon is trying to even this situation out a little.

The KENPC for another non-fiction title, How To Listen by Mary Hartley, has fallen from 226 to 217, which is down by nearly 4% on a book of 36,790 words which is standard-spaced with no pictures,  meaning a single KENP there is around 169 words, up from 162 words previously.

However, Mary Rizza’s novel, Charlotte’s Wedding, has seen an 11% fall in KENPC from 409 to 361. The book contains 76,600 words and is standard-spaced and formatted. This means that a KENP under v2.0 comprises around 212 words, up from 187 words per KENP previously.

The KENPC v2.0 update also adds a cap to payments on very long ebooks, although it’s still a pretty big cap at a whopping 3,000 KENPs. This mainly deals with big tomes such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and other reference works and the cap is applied per title per customer.

At December’s Kindle Unlimited pay-per-page rate of $0.0045, an ebook that was borrowed and read up to the 3,000-KENP limit would pay out a total of $13.50 to the author/publisher — that’s $3.51 (35%) more than the monthly KU subscriber charge of $9.99.

As well as reference books, there are also, of course, many very long novels. None of the examples given here are available on KU but they could be interesting to consider:

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy is 587,287 words — that’s a 2,770 KENPC at 212 words per KENP, meaning a fully read borrow at the December KU rate would pay out $12.46.

  • Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien is 455,125 words — 2,146 KENPC — $9.65.

  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is 418,053 words — 1,971 KENPC — $8.86.

  • A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin is around 298,000 words — 1,405 KENPC — $6.32.

You can see your book’s KENPC v2.0 listed on the Bookshelf section of your Kindle Direct Publishing account under the Promote and Advertise page.

The KDP Select global fund for February has been set at $12 million, which is the same initial level set for January when an extra $1.5 million was added to make the final fund the highest monthly total so far of $13.5 million.

The January payout rate to authors for Kindle Unlimited will be revealed on or around February 15 but this will be based on the old KENP count as v2.0 wasn’t introduced until February 1, so we’ll have to wait until March 15 for the February figure to work out whether the new system will have the effect of bolstering the pay-per-page rate.

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