Earlier this year, Amazon announced that they would be paying author’s for every page that a Kindle user reads, rather than by number of overall downloads. Each month, then, Amazon put aside a pool of money – in June it was $3 million dollars – and divides it among its authors.
So what does this mean for the books and their authors? Well, a system that pays out per page is a system that rewards anything that keeps the reader interested in the book, i.e. cliffhangers. It’s unsurprising why Amazon have opted for such an arrangement, when the biggest selling books of the past year – such as Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train – are novels which rely heavily on plot twists and less on perhaps more subtly complex nuances.
On that basis, highly renowned literary classics such as Joyce’s Ulysses or Tolstoy’s War and Peace, wouldn’t do as well considering their lengthy, intellectually dense material. Just like many industry markets, the shift seems to be heading further and further towards rewarding quick, familiar writing, rather than risking it for something more experimental, which is a sad thing to contemplate.
Of course, writers have always been influenced – though not necessarily effected – by movements in the market. But when such a massive company like Amazon, who have slowly replaced major bookstore chains as the go-to book place, propose such a game-changing system, one can only wonder what the book market will look like next.
What do you think?