Many indies use Amazon KDP. It is a great way to publish a book of any size. We often associate more pages with more value and bigger royalties but that is not always the case. There are circumstances when publishing paperbacks on Amazon KDP where you can increase royalties by decreasing page count. A case when less is more!
But before I come to the “Less is More bit” I just need to go through the pricing regime used by Amazon when they publish paperbacks. (skip this if you know this stuff)
When you put a paperback book forward to KDP Amazon for publication, Amazon works out the printing cost using a simple formula. Then this printing cost is used by them to control the minimum price you can put your book out for.
While the costs are dependent on your country of residence, all countries use the same formulas. (the full Amazon text is here)
For books that have less pages than a set threshold there is a fixed printing fee. Currently these thresholds are: 108 pages for black ink and 40 pages for colour.
In the UK these fixed printing charges for books with smaller page counts are £1.70 for black ink and £2.05 for colour.
There is also for all books a minimum page count of 25. I assume that Amazon simply will not publish a book with less pages than this.
If your book has more than 110 pages Amazon uses a simple formula to calculate printing costs:
Printing Cost = Fixed Cost + (Cost per page x number of pages).
So (again for the UK) this at the time of writing comes down to:
£0.70 + (£0.01 x page count) for black Ink
£0.70 + (£0.045 x page count) for colour ink.
After the printing cost has been determined it is used to calculate the minimum price allowed for your book. The minimum price is essentially where your share of the royalties simply covers the printing costs and nothing more.
The fixed royalty rate set by Amazon is 60% of the book sale price. That 60% has to (at least) pay the printing costs.
So the very minimum your book can be priced at is essentially where your 60% royalties equals the printing cost. This leaves you with nothing.
To find this minimum price we divide the printing cost by 0.6. Which is the same as multiplying it by 1.6667.
So lets say you published a 90 page black ink book.
The printing cost would be fixed at £1.70.
Minimum price is £1.70 x 1.6667 = £2.83
If though it was a 180 page black ink book then first we use the formula to get the printing cost then divide that by 0.6 (or multiply by 1.6667)
Printing cost: (£0.70 + (180 x 0.01)) = £2.50
Minimum price: £2.50 x 1.667 = £4.17
Personally I find this pretty reasonable for the service they are offering. But there is an interesting feature to this price structure.
Now we come to:
When Less is More.
You will notice that in all the above formula/calculations I have (and by inference Amazon have) referred to “page” count.
But how big is a page?
And that’s the rub. To Amazon, the page size is irrelevant.
A page is a page. It does not matter if it is 8”x 5” or 8.27″ x 11.69″. In fact there are 16 different page sizes to choose from. Obviously if you use the same font size then the number of words on each different page size will also be different.
If you go for a larger page area and get more words per page, you will reduce the number of pages within your book. You will also reduce the printing cost. This in turn will increase the net royalty potential from every sale.
Just take the two examples I put up above. Let us say your book can be printed on 90 large pages or 180 smaller pages. Both using black ink.
The minimum price allowed (no net royalties) for each is:
£2.83 (90 large pages)
£4.17 (180 smaller pages)
If you were to set the price of the larger 90 page book to £4.17 you would be receiving net royalties of:
(60% x £4.17) – £1.70 = £0.80 per sale.
For the smaller page book with exactly the same content and selling for the same price – you would get nothing.
Using a larger page size allows you to both keep the retail cost of the book down while also allowing you to maximize your royalties.
The above is of course an extreme example. If you are writing fiction then perhaps a book the size of an A4 sheet may be inappropriate.
But there are 16 different sizes to choose from!
Keeping the page size as large as is reasonably practical will maximize your revenue. Reducing your page count by (say) 30% without impacting the content is a great way to enhance book income. Of course you don’t want your book to be the “oddball” so choose the maximum size carefully. But choose the biggest size you can get away with.
For non-fiction, especially how-to books and image rich books where book size is much less critical than for fiction, then maximizing the page size is far less fraught. In my humble opinion the only time to consider smaller sizes in this case is if your book is below the 108 page count and increasing the page count by using smaller pages does not hurt the royalties too much.
So there you go. There are times when less is more! Reducing the page count by increasing the page size is worth considering. Even if you eventually decide to stay with the standard 8” x 5”.
At least you will know what the impact on your royalties is.