Amazon Prime Reference Book Royalties?

One of my ongoing rants involves Amazon’s payout structure for books lent to its Prime customers.  I’ve contended that the author of a reference manual such as mine, H OW TO WRITE WHAT PEOPLE WILL PAY TO READ!, sits at a decided disadvantage.  Most folks are interested in specific topics and not in reading the entire body of material.  Hence, fewer pages read than in a traditional book.  Ask people who bought a set of encyclopedias if they then read the books from cover to cover.

I started once but got only through “A.”  Dick Cavett remains the only person I’ve heard of who’s nerdy enough to have done this.  However, I did read all of THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE.  Also GREGG and a couple of dozen other well-known reference manuals, cover to cover.  And it seems that the whole world had to read STRUNK & WHITE in college.  At less than 100 pages in most configurations, this English 101 requisite doesn’t wear out many students.

Why did I write about the Amazon payout structure for Prime?  My December 2015 royalty check for the Prime component totaled 18 cents.  I immediately made a reservation at the Four Season in NYC for New Years and called NetJets.  Toughest thing was getting a valet to attend to my wife and me in the suite for three days on such short notice–and over the New Year’s holiday.  But the enormous royalty made all this possible.

 While not enamored with Prime for the reason I discussed, I’m not alone.  Newsletter subscriber after Newsletter subscriber has told me that his or her royalties dropped off substantially since the the implementation of the Kindle Prime Program.  And the next subscriber who tells me of receiving greater royalties since the format’s inception–will be the first.

The amount of money in the Kindle Lending Pool each month appears substantial.  But Amazon’s profit from the program make this payout insignificant.  And a reference book such as mine, HOW TO WRITE WHAT PEOPLE WILL PAY TO READ!, gets a really brief lick of the sucker.

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