Amazon Has New Plan To Pay Authors For Each Page Read. What Would It Be Like If Readers Paid For Books The Same Way?
Way back in the technological dark ages (aka the 20th century), once people bought a book, no one had any idea if you read it. But now thanks to e-readers, all that has changed. Which might be why now Amazon has a new plan to pay authors for each page a Kindle user reads, instead of paying they every time someone purchases the book. So should readers be paying for their books in the same way?
Typically, when we think of books, we think of them as a single unit, and that's how we sell them. Whatever you do with them, whether you reread them a hundred times or leave them to languish on your bookshelf (be it digital or physical) isn't the point. You bought the book, and thus what you do with it doesn't matter, from a transactional perspective anyway. However, what if we considered books to be not a single unit, but a collection of pages, each one with a price tag? What would that be like for readers?
Well, in some ways it might be good for readers. After all, if you buy a book you wind up hating 20 pages in, you've just saved yourself some money. If you buy a short story collection just for one particular story, you don't have to pay for the parts you aren't interested in. So over time, you might save yourself a decent amount of money.
But at the same time, such a price scheme would have some potentially scary side effects. For one thing, if people had to pay per page and there were no maximum amount you could be charged per book, it would definitely discourage rereading. In fact, some of my books might have cost me hundreds of dollars by now. The Harry Potter books alone would have me bankrupt.
And even if rereading didn't cost you anything, knowing that each turn of the page was taking money from your bank account might actually discourage reading altogether. It would at the very least strongly encourage "page-turners," books with hooks and twists and cliffhangers that could keep you reading even though you knew it would cost you. The model wouldn't work as well for other types of novels, the ones that build slowly or that have a killer plot twist halfway through. It would definitely impact what editors are looking for when trying to find new manuscripts.
So will readers ever be paying per page? Well, I don't see publishers wanting to adopt it any time soon, especially since we have no idea how profitable it might be. But for some books — especially thrillers or mystery novels — this kind of pricing could work well, so if authors or publishers wanted to try it out for certain titles, that might be interesting. As far as charging all books according to the page-by-page model, though, I'm definitely not a fan.