How Amazon's Page Reads Functionality Changed the Game for Book Marketing

Updated: Jul 11

Impact of Page Reads on Your Author Marketing Plan

When Amazon introduced their page reads functionality, it really changed the way books can be marketed. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

Writing trends, like food trends, change according to a combination of taste and fear. Every year some new food becomes the super food that everyone should be cooking with. Looking at you, avocado.

Every year in publishing, some new gimmick becomes the choice de jour. The driving force behind how a story should work is tied to what will sell.

Since 2015, the trend driven by Amazon's Page Reads policy has been towards page turning.

The structure of a book changes with the emphasis on its consumption. While some touted the benefits of such a change, others were quick to spot problems.

Page Reads

Amazon's policy focused on paying writers delivering through their Kindle Unlimited or Kindle Direct Publishing markets for page reads instead of downloads.

The policy worked by recording each first new page read from someone who downloaded or loaned the book through the KU program. This allowed writers to offer up a book to be read through the service, which added value to Amazon, and get paid by how many reads were happening, not just books sitting on the device in some "will get to it later" list.

In principle, this benefits writers that create content that people want to get to, and get through. A book need not be of a certain size or scope to be worth a read: it just has to exist and find an audience.

Changing Form

In practice, the change made certain types of books and stories have a significant advantage over others. Large and design books, which look great on a coffee table, don't do so well in the page reads world. Small volumes, written to be episodic and approachable page turners, did much better.

This created a shift in the kind of content that writers were finding success with, which also pushed for them to continue to develop in those avenues. Series of books were planned out and released with the expectation that there would be another volume, which is fine because the reader will pick the book up as part of the monthly KU service.

Amazon gets to sell more KU subscriptions, readers get more of the content they want and writers make money doing what they do. It almost sounds too perfect.

Issues and Concerns

Unfortunately, criticisms of the program come from readers and writers. Readers worry that complexity of story will be sacrificed. Writers worry that the program won't measure the pages properly and undercut payments.

Literary critics worry that easy delivery and lack of gate-keeping means stories can be pure lowest common denominator without any validation or push for improvement.

Further Insight

The publishing world changes quickly and often. Staying up on the information needed to be successful in the publishing world takes time. Consider working with a professional when you want to get your own writing in front of readers.

We offer frequent advice and information on shifts in trends through our blog. Keep abreast of the trends by staying involved in discussions.


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