Indie Author Says Amazon Takes More Than Fair Share of E-Book Sale Price

According to one indie author, Amazon doesn’t offer such a great deal when it comes to self-publishing. While his complaints have merit, he may have forgotten to read the fine print.

Travel writer Andrew Hyde only took home $5.10 from every $9.99 e-book he self-published and sold on Amazon due to a $2.58 delivery cost per book, he wrote yesterday in his personal blog, That’s a far cry from the 70% royalties Amazon is thought to give its self-published authors.

While Hyde may have a fair point, he might not have read the fine print.

In the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing agreement, the company clearly states that there is a delivery charge for files. It depends on the country, but in the U.S., it’s $0.15 per megabyte — and other countries are comparable. At 18.1 megabytes, the delivery charges on Hyde’s book add up.

For frame of reference, Haruki Murakami’s 900-page behemoth 1Q84 (Random House) has several images (though certainly not as many as Hyde’s book) and clocks in at only 3 megabytes.

Amazon generated by far most of his sales, some 73%, but performed the worst in terms of dollars per sale versus the other four retailers Hyde used: iBooks, and Nook. generated 12% of sales but gave Hyde $9.25 out of the $9.99 sale price. Ibooks was next, giving Hyde $7.00 of the sale price and generating 11% of total sales. Nook finished last at 1% of total sales and $6.50 of sale price — still a good 14 points ahead of Kindle.

Hyde checked his book file’s format several times and determined that he was well within Amazon’s parameters for manageable e-book files. He came up with no conclusions. Digital Book World has put out a query to Amazon for comment.

Since writing the piece, Hyde put the .mobi files up on the website for those readers who want him to get 95% of the sale but also want to read it on their Kindle device.

Read much more, including several charts and graphs, at

4 thoughts on “Indie Author Says Amazon Takes More Than Fair Share of E-Book Sale Price

  1. Gareth-Michael Skarka

    Disappointed that you went with his link-baiting story without even the most cursory follow-up on your part.

    Amazon is up-front about the delivery costs:

    By his own admission, his book is image-heavy (over 18 megs) — meaning it’s an outlier. The average standard novel mobi file is far less than that.

    So the REAL story here is: Guy with much-larger-than-normal book file is charged *EXACTLY WHAT AMAZON SAID IT WOULD CHARGE HIM* (Seriously, kids — follow the link, then do the math.)

    Not sure why “Disgruntled Indie Publisher Didn’t Read Up On The Terms” is worth DBW coverage, but hey, there you go.

    1. Jeremy Greenfield

      Of course we did our homework before publishing. As you can see from the report, we say that the author obviously didn’t read or ignored the terms. We also note that a typical, albeit large book, like 1Q84, is only 3MB.

      We gave this story ink because he’s created quite a stir and we want to make sure our audience is aware of it. Also, because with all the competition between self-publishing services and online e-book retailers for indie authors, each touting a better percentage than the next, we thought it was interesting to note that Amazon’s 70% is not quite accurate when you read the fine print.

      Even for small books, any load cuts down on the 70%. It’s not bad or wrong in any way — just interesting.

      Thanks for your note, Gareth.

  2. Evelyn Trimborn

    This is old news. When the 70% royalty option minus delivery fees was announced, many graphic novels publishers were priced right out of the model because their files are so large. It is not just for authors, it is for everyone using the system and presumably taking up storage space. As always, read the fine print and be sure you understand what you are signing. And be realistic about the cost of doing business with vendors and wholesalers in the publishing world.

    And do the math. With my last paperback publishing contract, I was getting 35 cents per copy on a book listing for $6.99. Anything more than that from selling ebooks is the icing on the cake.



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