Amazon “Prime” Pool Pays Bonuses Not Royalties


Around the middle of each month, Amazon publishes its numbers from its author pool for books that are borrowed via the Kindle Unlimited program.  The January Amazon Prime fund was listed at $8.5 million, which breaks down to $1.38 per book for the 6.175 million books that were borrowed.  While the total pool increased, the payout to the author was reduced from the $1.43 doled out in December, which is the second-lowest amount ($1.33 in October) since the format began this past July.

Something I find beyond odd is that the Amazon Prime fund’s payments aren’t called royalties but defined rather as “bonuses,” thus taking pomposity in my opinion to an all-time high.  Are we authors placing our works on Amazon as if sending out “feelers,” or do we believe our material has literary worth?  For me, there’s a disconnect with the rhetoric.  I placed my book of articles on Amazon because there was no other option available with anywhere near that firm’s reach to the book-buying public.

This capacity for pricing control seems to be exercised throughout every aspect of the Amazon business model, and certainly not just via Amazon Prime.  For me, it makes the Apple pricing-fixing suit all the more of a head-scratcher.  I’m going back to my Indiana farm-boy upbringing, but when an entity has unilateral control over the price of something, doesn’t that speak to the issue of determining what the consumer pays for that product?  I don’t believe this requires a Wharton MBA to understand.

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