Amazon has announced that it will begin paying its authors based on the number of pages read, rather than books sold.
From 1 July Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners' Lending Library authors will no longer be paid for each title downloaded, but rather on number of pages read.
So this won't affect other book writers, initially, at least.
Before you say it, no, authors can't change text size to get more page reads, Amazon works out the words to make it fair.
Is this a good thing?
On the surface of it this seems like a good move by Amazon. This should mean that the quality of work increases as authors rely on readers to want to complete their work.
It should also mean that good writers earn more and have more resources and time to pour into future work.
Finally it could mean Amazon cuts overheads and can pass savings on to us book buyers. Although we're not holding our breath for that one.
Could this be a really bad thing?
On the flip side this could be a terrible thing for the written word.
Paying per page read could encourage authors to write in a certain way in order to make more money. So big cliff-hanger endings for every chapter and never forthcoming storylines. A book version of the TV show Lost if you will.
Then there's images. Amazon says these are included in the page count. So we could see words given less meaning altogether as images are thrown in for the sake of it, just to bulk out stories.
Another issue is prejudice against guides and textbooks. Often people buy these for certain sections, rather than reading them in full.
The future of books
While this new pay system only applies to a section of Amazon's offerings it's still a step in a direction that could sway future writers.
It seems dangerous to focus any artistic endeavour on money, but perhaps in some cases it will prove helpful.
We'll have to wait and see.