Sunday, October 16, 2016

Let's talk about the Amazon Page Flip issue.

Little more than a week ago a friend sent me the link to an article about a possible issue with the new Kindle flip page feature. The article is HERE if you'd like to read it. Until this article I didn't think to question why two brand new Mercy books had failed to make any page reads worth noting. I thought it was me. I thought the books were not well received. That I'd failed to establish word of mouth. I released both books in wide distribution and made no real sales. I held off placing one book into KU because my KU page reads were dropping as far back as June. I wanted to let the book have a chance. In July I pulled all of my books from KU because page reads had hit an all time low for me there. I figured and probably rightly so, that my older books were running the course and this was a natural drop. I wanted to see if I could find new life for them on other sites.

So, obviously, since I'm writing this, that didn't happen. I stayed out of KU for six weeks in which time there were still page reads for most books but not many to speak of. Sales of all books had stopped everywhere. I had two brand new books that had peaked with less than 5000 sales between them. So I put all of the eligible books back into KU the first week of September. Out of 22 books I have 20 in KU currently.

I'd hoped the two new books would garner some interest. I'd hoped that being free to 95% of my reader base that the two books would do something other than sit there.

By the time my friend sent me the above article I felt my career was over. I felt like a failure. I'd put out not one, but two books, in a very popular series, books that I expected to do at least half of what the third book had done.

At the end of September when I totaled my page reads and my actual sales, both books combined still have not crossed the 6000 units paid mark.

I should state here that I calculate all page reads for each book and divide by the total number of pages listed KENP to get a unit total. I round up or down to reach a whole number. The third book in the series sold 9000 units in it's first month. By itself. Real sales. Not page count sales. I wasn't expecting that many with the fourth book, but I'd hoped the fifth book would match the third...I'm sorry if I come across as egotistical, I can only quote stats here and this is what my figures show me. Book 4 has been out since June and has not crossed the 3000 units sold mark. Book 5 barely crossed 3000 units in the six weeks it was out, total sales and page reads.

I've given up. I'd hit the point that I thought it was me. I thought the series was done. No interest. Nothing. The few loyal fans I have left...yada yada yada. Until that article.

I pulled up my sales graphs and started looking at everything.

For the first week of October I had one book that consistently had one or two full books worth of page reads for the past 90 days (90 days is as far back as the graph on KDP goes). It didn't do much but it was a fairly consistent little seller. And for the first six days of October the book had one page read a day. One of the days had three page reads. In six days that book had a total of 8 page reads, while behind it was a trail of 89 or more pages read consistently each day. It's not a long book. It takes about an hour to read. So I then checked a book that consistently does not sell well at all. It has more days of zero page reads than days with any page reads. The 90 days prior, though, when it had page reads it had the 79 pages that it's listed as having. Once or twice. And then toward the middle of September it suddenly had the random one page read. One page here one page there, between many many zero pages.

I checked the big selling books. There's no way to tell. I am not that good at math. They have enough page reads each day that the random one pagers can't even be determined.

So, I borrowed the two books above with my KU subscription. Yes, I have a KU. I don't make a habit of reading my own books. I have them stored on my computer. I see no point in pulling my own books unless someone says there's a problem with formatting then I can see what they're seeing other than that I tend to not look at my own anyway, I pulled each of the two books with the wonky pages and I read one straight through in the full screen feature. When I finished about an hour later it said 100% and I closed the the book. An hour later 90 pages were on the page read graph. Sometime while I was reading a single extra page read was logged. I then read the second book with no page reads strictly on the flip page feature. I accidentally tapped chapter two too hard and brought up the full screen page. I tapped again to bring up the flip page feature and finished reading. The print is tiny, I had serious eye strain when I was finished. When I was finished I closed the book. The percentage read was listed at 26%. This would be roughly where I tapped in on chapter two. I waited one hour and then checked the graph again. 18 pages showed as having been read for that book. Out of 79. It would be five more days before another page read showed for that book. And then it was one single page.

I don't know what to make of it. I went to the KDP community bulletin board to read the updated conversation about it. Amazon has posted that there have been complaints. A few days later they reported that the Flip page feature is designed as a navigational tool and does not count toward page reads. However, they say that there is no evidence to support that any books are being read in entirety in the flip mode. This is the stance they've taken. Yes we know...but no it's not happening.

And this is where we are right now. Yes they know there's a problem. Yes they've admitted there's a problem. No they aren't interested in hearing about it because it's not really happening. Because reasons...I'm paraphrasing here.

Authors are showing them evidence and they are rejecting the evidence. I waited until the mid month income report came out to see what they were doing about the severe lack of page reads for the month of September. By my invoice, it was nothing. I'm still credited with the same amount of page reads as I have totaled in my journal.

So today I went back to November and tallied every single month of page reads since the first month. I have a pattern. I have evidence that my lesser selling books are only getting single page reads when the title page comes up, and then the flip page comes up. I've had readers tell me that their smaller devices will not recognize the full screen feature now, just the flip page. I've had readers tell me that they don't know how to tell one from the other and read it how it comes up. This is an issue. This is a major issue. KU books are exclusive to Amazon and now the majority of books predominantly in romance it seems, are earning less than half a cent per full book. And Amazon seems to be turning a blind eye.

I'm going to divulge my personal stats. I don't like to. But I'm going to. I don't have stats before November of 2015. October of 2015 we were still paid for one unit borrow instead of per pages.

In November I had 18 books in KU. My last new release was in March.

November page reads: 867,053
December page reads: 833,700

In January I put Out of the Blues into KU. It was released in November.

January page reads: 1,689,686
February page reads: 2,094,204 (I received a top seller bonus this month)
March page reads: 1,462,151
April page reads: 767,327
May page reads: 477,538
June page reads: 401,071

I should note that I pulled all books by mid July and at least half of the pages are hold overs.

July page reads: 220,354
August page reads: 14,071 (these will be from books still in KU borrow and not new borrows:holdovers)

I put all but two books back into KU on September 4th. I count the whole month. There are two not one brand new to KU books this time.

September page reads: 517,366

I'd noticed that after Out of the Blues hit in January there was a gradual slow down. June is the month in which the Flip page feature was introduced. I can't say as to how I was affected that month. It seems to fit in with the previous data. New books always give bumps to old books. Always.

The data for the six weeks the books were out will not be indicative, as those books were borrowed before the books were removed but still in existing KU libraries.

September seems to be the month in which all authors noticed a significant drop in page reads. August coming in second but still nothing reported like is being reported for September. New books in the system seem to be more affected than older books.

I don't know, still, if it's me. The data says it's the system. I just know that two brand new Mercy books should have had at least double if not triple that amount of page reads. Even if for the curiosity factor alone.

I don't know what I'm going to do about it. I still have 50 days left until the books are released from KU. I know that as of October 15th, I've not registered 100,000 page reads for the month. I know that as of right now I won't even earn a thousand dollars for this month.

Frustrating. Possibly career killer. However, you want to slice it. This is what it is for me.

The best I can ask of my KU subscriber readers...Please make sure you read your borrowed books in the full screen mode, and that when you close it, the appropriate percentage is showing on the cover. If you didn't read much or if you read all the way through. Your authors are not getting paid due to a glitch in the Amazon system. And if they're like me, they'd like to pay their bills so they can write more books.

Thanks for your time,

Mercy Celeste

1 comment:

  1. I had significant drops also, i have over 45 books and this morning it dropped by 60% to which I sent the obligatory note. I also notice as soon a free read promo goes off all sales and reads go down like clockwork then start back up the next day.Counter freezes, 0 sales in a day which hasnt ever happened in 6 years and they always say everything is fine or give me a little spike and say they fixed it. I dont know when there day of reckoning will come around but I think they oe a lot of authors a lot of money we will never see. They bury you in the search engine if you dont do select and no if you dont give away your counter gets whacked or something. So its free one everyday for me. I hit top 10 before and have done a few hundred books in a day and then a switch is hit somewhere and it will be down to 10 next day and going down the tubes, very weird and discouraging.