Tag Archives: page flip

A Chronicle of the Amazon Page Flip Controversy: Or, how to piss off a ton of your vendors all at once

For the past several weeks (and in some case months), authors publishing through KDP Select have been noticing a massive decrease in pages read (KENP = Kindle Edition Normalized Pages). I blogged about his before here and here, mostly about how it has hit me personally. In this post I would like to attempt a summary of what’s been going on and what the authors affected think might be causing it.

Most of what I know comes from a discussion thread on Kboards, a forum for indie authors. The thread was started on Oct. 2, and authors quickly began chiming in with information on decreasing numbers of pages read on Amazon. A few authors said they had seen no decrease, but the vast majority have observed decreases of between 30% – 90%.

Naturally, once we noticed that we weren’t the only ones taking a huge hit to the pocketbook — and it wasn’t just because everyone who borrowed our books had started hating them after reading the first page — we started to collectively look for answers. We also started writing Amazon Support to complain and try to find out what was going on. In the new KDP Select system, authors have no information on how often their books are actually borrowed, only how many pages are read. But all of us keep records of sales and income, including KENP, which makes it easier to compare notes.

Soon, authors began narrowing in on the new “Page Flip” mode as a possible culprit. Page Flip was announced on June 28, but it was several weeks later before it was available on most newer Kindle devices. This fits with many authors noticing a decrease in pages read beginning in around August. If you don’t know what Page Flip is, here’s an article about it in TechTimes.

Once Page Flip was identified as at least one possible reason for the decreases authors were seeing, a number of those on Kboards tested it for themselves, including David VanDyke, whom I reblogged a couple of days ago. But in this context, it’s important to take a look at one of the passages in that post again:

“Using my KU account, I borrowed one of my own low-selling books that gets fewer than 100 page reads per day, normally zero. I used my iPhone and the Kindle app, so that the book opened automatically in Page Flip mode and kept it there. I paged through the entire book. Result? One (1) page read exactly, up from zero (0). Yup. One. Just as many others are reporting on KBoards and elsewhere.”

Now, all this time, Amazon is apparently getting a deluge of complaints from angry authors. Since we were sharing things in the discussion thread on Kboards, we were all well aware that we were getting the same canned responses. Here is the first one a number of authors received, starting on about Oct. 4:

“I understand you are concerned about lower than expected pages read in your reports. We’ve thoroughly reviewed all of your KU/ KOLL borrows and can confirm that the pages read displayed in your dashboard are accurate.”

On Oct 5, Amazon posted this announcement on the KDP support forum:

We’ve recently received a number of contacts regarding KENPC counts and have been investigating each case to make sure our KENPC reporting is timely and accurate. We regularly monitor pages-read systems for accuracy and to ensure we are recording all legitimate reading activity, including a month-end audit. In the past week, we uncovered one timing-based reporting issue affecting less than 0.2% of pages read which we fixed on 9/28. We are also now in the process of completing our September month-end audit.

Should you have specific questions about your account, please contact us at https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us.

Followed on Oct. 6 by this announcement:

We have completed our monthly audit of September pages-read data. We regularly monitor pages-read systems for accuracy with a particular focus on making sure we have correctly filtered out fraudulent reading activity, while including all legitimate customer behavior. Total audit adjustments for the month were an increase of roughly 2% of pages read (though the amount will vary from author to author). We are currently updating reports and changes should be visible within the next day.

We expect the September fund to increase again compared to August and will release the new figure by mid-month as usual.

Thanks for the recent questions from some authors about how Page Flip is being used by customers and its possible impact to pages read. Page Flip is designed to make it easy to explore and navigate in books while automatically saving your place, and that is how customers are using it. We checked for effects on pages read before launching Page Flip, and investigated it again to re-confirm that there is no impact. We do not see any material reading volume happening within this feature, but we will continue to monitor it closely.

And this on Oct. 12:

Some authors have asked questions about Page Flip’s usage not counting towards page counts. Page Flip is a navigational tool. By design, using it for navigation does not count toward pages read. We are monitoring Page Flip usage data and it is not being used for reading in any material way. We will continue to monitor for any changes in reader behavior.

This statement is patently misleading. Either Page Flip does record pages read and Amazon just isn’t including any reading done in this mode as counting towards KENP, or it doesn’t “by design”, and Amazon doesn’t have any data on which to base any assumptions regarding reader behavior when using Page Flip. But as you can see from this promotional Amazon video, it is quite possible to read in this mode:

Kindle Page Flip mode

Amazon’s argument is essentially that since Page Flip wasn’t designed to be used for reading, using it that way doesn’t count toward pages read, whether they are actually recorded or not.

Finally, here is the answer email most authors are getting when complaining that since the introduction of Page Flip, their pages read have taken a nosedive:

Thanks for providing these details. The business team audited our systems using the specific information you shared regarding pages read and sales and did not find any systematic issues impacting your results.

Once again — how can they really know? Are they interviewing their KU customers to find out how they are using Page Flip? Do they even have data on the number of pages “navigated” rather than read?

Page Flip does not seem to the be the only cause of the huge losses many authors are seeing in their income from Amazon, but speculation regarding other things like another change in algorithms computing rankings, or some new policy to combat scammers and fraud, or the effects of the new “Prime Reading” program (you can read about this here and here) can remain only that — speculation. Eventually, with more data, Kindle authors will probably have a better grasp of how sales and pages read in the new Kindle environment translate into rank, but whatever is going on right now is just too new for any realistic conclusions. By contrast, Kindle authors have proven by testing it on themselves that reading a whole book in Page Flip mode only results in one page read. Searching for “Page Flip” either on Google or Twitter is all that is necessary to see that readers ARE using it to read books.

So why is Amazon not addressing this problem, and basically telling us authors that we are suffering from a collective hallucination? Speculation on Kboards is rife about that as well. It’s been pointed out that Amazon has been taking a beating financially after introducing Kindle Unlimited in Japan. A number of people think KU has become too expensive for Amazon and they want to phase it out. But why then not just do it, rather than making a huge number of your authors angry at you first? We will probably never know.

Anyway, to get back to me, after I received the (very insulting) email about the page reads in my dashboard being accurate, I sent them this very angry email:

Given the admission by Amazon that Page Flip does not count pages, combined with extensive evidence on the Internet and Kboards (among others) that readers are using Page Flip to read ebooks — not to mention that Page Flip is the default mode on a number of devices — Amazon is guilty of breach of contract regarding my books that are in Kindle Unlimited, by which I am to be paid for each page read for borrowed books. Since that is not possible with Page Flip, I hereby regard the exclusivity required by Kindle Unlimited as null and void. If I am not being paid for pages read, I see myself as free to publish elsewhere, seeing as Amazon broke the contract they had with me.

The next day, I received notification that the last four books I still had in Select had been removed. Now I no longer have to sell my books for one KENP — or half-a-cent — each. I just have to learn how to sell on other platforms. 🙂

Wish me luck!

Note:
If you found this blog post helpful, perhaps you would be interested in the book, Starting Out as an Indie Author! You can learn more here.

Jutoh Page-Flip Hack

If you need to make your books non-page flip compliant in Jutoh, here’s a quick lesson.

Source: Jutoh Page-Flip Hack

Note: I haven’t tried this myself, since I don’t have Jutoh, but I have unpublished Yseult for now, since Amazon hasn’t allowed me to get out of KDP Select. I can’t do that with Shadow of Stone, since I have a promo I’ve committed to coming up. But for me, Yseult is the main culprit for lost pages, since it is over 900 KENP long. That’s a lot of money lost when reads only count for one page. 😦

My emails to Amazon still haven’t garnered any more than canned responses, and I haven’t yet decided what else to do, other than go wide when my books are freed up from Kindle Unlimited.

Bye, Bye, KDP Select; Or, How I Got Screwed by Amazon (and You May Have Been Too)

I blogged a couple of days ago about how some kind of software glitch seems to be swallowing authors’ pages read, and posted the email I sent to Amazon about it.

Well, two days later, still no answer. Two days with a total of 24 pages read, when my daily average is closer to 1000. For all of October, I have have had less than half the pages read that I usually have in a single day. My pages read have flatlined, my rankings have tanked, and my sales have come to a halt. It looks like I’m going to have to start all over again — all over again.

I have since learned that the problem of the missing pages is probably connected to Amazon Kindle’s new feature, Page Flip, a navigational tool meant to be used to search books for specific passages. Unfortunately for authors, Amazon does not seem to have included a function to register pages flipped through. So if a reader who borrows a book from Amazon uses this function to read the book, it only counts as one page read — even if that reader reads all 900 pages of Yseult. (As a side note: today, the ranking of Yseult went from 200,000-something to 79,000 — with no sales and only 20 pages read. That makes absolutely no sense at all, unless at least half of those pages read are borrows, and all of those people borrowing the book only read one page. Go figure.)

Amazon is logically more concerned with providing an ideal experience for readers, their customers, rather than addressing the concerns of vendors, especially if they are such prawny content providers as I am. (“prawny” = opposite of big fish)

As a result, I sent Amazon an email today, requesting to have all my books still in Select removed as soon as possible, before the end of the three month period. KDPS has been good to me over the years, but I’ve realized now how Amazon truly feels about me, so it’s time to say goodbye to Select.

I can only suggest that everyone else with books in Select take a good look at their numbers for the last few months and decide what they want to do. Page Flip was introduced on June 28, but for most authors on Kboards, it has only become a serious problem in about the last month. And for readers, all I can do is ask you not to use Page Flip to read the books you borrow from Amazon.

Some authors on Kboards have suggested that Amazon is deliberately trying to lower the payout for authors, or get rid of those of us who aren’t successful enough, but I doubt it. I think instead that this is a prime example of Hanlon’s Razor: never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity. And here, add disinterest to the mix.

So, for now at least, I’m out. Bye, bye, KDP Select.


Been nice knowing you. Maybe we’ll see each other again someday.