Kindle eBook Royalties: 70% vs. 35% and 6 Essential Things You Need to Know

About this article

  • How to qualify for the Amazon Kindle 70% royalty.
  • Amazon resources regarding royalties and requirements.

Kindle eBook Royalties: 70% vs. 35% and 6 Essential Things You Need to Know

Kindle eBook Royalties: 70% vs. 35% and 6 Essential Things You Need to Know

Who doesn’t want to get a 70% royalty!? I can’t think of anyone that wouldn't but it does help to understand the quirks and rules that determine when you get the higher royalty, and when you don’t. And what you have to agree to in order to get it.

Here are what I consider to be the essential 6 things everyone should know about Amazon’s Kindle royalty structure. If you don’t qualify or agree with all of the terms on this list, your book will receive a 35% royalty.

Keep in mind that even when you select the 70% option, not all sales will qualify for this royalty.

Please note: for a more detailed explanation see our Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print.

Read each of these carefully and be sure to check the links for updated information because terms can change. Here is what you are agreeing to when you select 70%:

To Get 70%,

  1. You will price your eBook between $2.99 and $9.99. You may have heard of different royalty arrangements for books priced higher than $9.99, and there are, but they aren’t available to self-publishers.
  2. You will pay for file delivery. Amazon is the only eBook retailer that charges publishers a fee to deliver their eBooks to buyers. The price for delivery to U.S. buyers is $0.15 per megabyte. Amazon's computers will process your Mobi or EPUB file and tell you the cost of delivery. This is the only reliable way to determine this number. More information and examples are noted in our guide to Amazon fees and royalties.
  3. You won’t get 70% in all territories. In all others you get 35%. The territories where you get 70% are the U.S., Canada, the UK, Australia, and most of Europe. Also read #6 below and see this page for an updated list of countries where you get 70%.
  4. Your eBook must not be in the public domain. That 18th century classic that is out of copyright is only going to fetch you 35%. You need to own the copyright if you want to get 70%.
  5. Your eBook must be part of KDP Select if you want the 70% royalty on eBook sales in Brazil, India, Japan or Mexico. (See our guide to KDP:  Should You Use Amazon KDP Select or Distribute Your Book Wide?)
  6. You agree to allow buyers to lend their copy of your book. This is a one-time, 14-day loan each eBook license holder can make after buying your book. (This isn't a bad thing and in fact, we recommending allowing lending.)

For more information on minimum pricing see this page.

Or read our comprehensive Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print.

Other articles in our Essentials Series:

ISBN Essentials: An FAQ for eBook Publishers

Copyright Essentials: An FAQ for eBook Publishers
photo credit: dgladfelter via photopin cc

45 thoughts on “Kindle eBook Royalties: 70% vs. 35% and 6 Essential Things You Need to Know”

  1. Thanks for the info David. I am about to hit publish button and I’m faced with the % issue. Even if I select only the US and UK, it still says I have to fill in all the other countries, which leads you to KDP Select by default. Either that or we choose 35%. Hm.

  2. This doesn’t sound right to me. You are always able to choose individual countries. But one thing that is confusing is the requirement that you must join KDP Select to get the 70% royalty in India, Brazil, Mexico or Japan. If you don’t join KDP Select you will get 35% in those countries.

  3. Pingback: Introduction to Kindle Publishing | Forum Kindle

  4. It STILL seems to me that it is a no-brainer, for short books or books with text only, to choose the 70% royalty. Which leads me to wonder if Amazon might actually perform unspecified services for those who are more willing to SHARE the 70% with Amazon. Some extra promotional kinda things, like displaying your title more often more prominently. Is this a silly notion?

  5. Amazon seems to focus on selling and giving the shopper a good deal rather than putting the priority on margins like Apple and BN seem to do. So if they seem something is selling, they goose their system to show the book more often. I don’t know of anyone who trades part of their 70% royalty for extra promo. In fact, even when Amazon discounts a book they still pay the royalty on the publisher’s price.

  6. Not clear on this. Since each different format requires a unique ISBN…..then does each new ISBN require a unique Copyright filing?

    Thanks for all your information.
    Best
    Leland

  7. No Leland, ISBN has nothing to do with copyright. i.e. a print book and eBook could be 2 ISBNs but a single copyright b/c copyright applies to content, not format.

  8. K Howard Weston

    Hi David I enjoy your information above, a POD printer has offered to put our all ready paper book into an eBook, this will cost us approx £150 + they keep our royalties for 6 months then pay us 50% royalties on every book we sell, they also advertise it and put it onto all the relevant sell platforms, and into 25,000 libraries worldwide, (what’s your opinion on this David, ) (would we be better of selling our own eBooks via Amazon.)
    Apart from author I am also artist sculptor my co-writer she is an ex skipper of sea net fishing boat, Are paper book story is in great demand from the public.
    Thanks Kenny.

  9. Hi Kenny,
    This is an interesting proposition. Without knowing the number of books (1?), and your current sales, here are a few comments:
    -50% royalty is fair. Large publishers like to pay 25%, because they can, but many startup publishers are going with 50/50.
    -How long is the contract term? I’d try to limit it to 2 or 3 years.
    -£150 may or may not be a lot for a conversion, it depends on the complexity of your book. It seem on the lower end so that’s good for you. But keep in mind that books usually sell the most when they are released and your POD company will capture those profits.
    -What specific things do they do to advertise it? Putting it on “selling platforms” or “into 25,000 libraries” is something you can do.

    If you are a book marketer, or have an interest, this may not be that good. But it sounds like your passions and experience are in other pursuits in which case this seems like a good arrangement. Based on what you told me, I can’t say this sounds unfair. Just watch how long you are signing up.

  10. Thank you. I thought I needed a new ISBN for each digital platform. Your articles are a Godsend. Thank you again.

  11. I’ve completed one book and am about to complete a second by the end of the summer. This was going to be the season that I published them through Amazon on the Kindle (KDP). My father-in-law just informed me of a change in how Amazon is changing their royalties payout. I did some research and am still confused. Can you help explain their new system as opposed to the old
    and
    is it such a change that I should consider publishing through a different company?

    Thanks,

    Marc

  12. Thank you, David, but you don’t put a case for choosing a 35% royalty. Maybe I just understand. Please advise.
    Another question. Within KDP Select, can you opt for your book to be free for a few days?
    Yet another question. Sorry I didn’t put all three together. What is an ‘E-book license holder’?

  13. (I put all your questions together to make it easier to follow.)

    1. Why choose 35%? I would choose this if my file size was large. At 35 cents per MB, this charge is subtracted from your royalty so at some point, a big file at 35% makes you more money than choosing 70% and paying those fees. Just do the math.

    2. KDP Select. Yes, that’s the point. 5 days is the max. Look up the details from your KDP account.

    3. The license holder is the party that owns the publishing rights. In many cases it is the writer who is the self-publisher. This is just a technical definition.

    Good luck.

  14. One thing the nobody seems to talk about with the 70% royalty option with KDP, is that the list price you specify for the Kindle Edition MUST be 20% lower than anywhere else. If it’s not lower, then your royalty drops to 35%. So if you have your ebook for sale elsewhere, Amazon insists on being the lowest price out there, or you get docked heavily. And if I understand their terms correctly, the reduction in royalty rate is retroactive (back to some time period that I can’t remember off hand).

    Since Amazon is strong-arming you to have them be the lowest price for your book, any customer that does any quick search for your book is going to likely pick Amazon every time (unless they specifically don’t want the kindle format). So it lessens the reason for having your book published elsewhere.

    I find it fascinating that nobody talks about this. I’ve not seen it mentioned anywhere, except in the terms of agreement from Amazon itself.

  15. Bryan, I have never read that in their agreement, or on the royalty page, or experienced that personally or with any client. You must be confusing this with this Amazon policy for ebook vs print book pricing: “The list price [of the ebook] must be at least 20% below the lowest list price for the physical book.” You can find it on this page: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A30F3VI2TH1FR8.

    I’m happy to be corrected so please share more details if you have them.

  16. In the KDP pricing page,

    https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A29FL26OKE7R7B

    in the examples section after pricing tables, I refer to “4. Setting your List Price.” There, it says:

    You must set your Digital Book’s List Price (and change it from time-to-time if necessary) so that it is no higher than the list price in any sales channel for any digital or physical edition of the Digital Book.

    But if you choose the 70% Royalty Option, you must further set and adjust your List Price so that it is at least 20% below the list price in any sales channel for any physical edition of the Digital Book.

    By “list price in any sales channel,” we mean the suggested or recommended retail price or, if you sell your book directly to end users, your own sales price, for an edition of the book available outside of our Program.

    Sounds to me like they are saying that for the 70% option, your digital book must be sold on Amazon at 20% lower price than anywhere else. Also, in Section 5.iv “Non-Compliance” they are stating they will lower your royalties to 35%, and it appears that would be retroactive.

    What am I missing? I would be glad to know I’m reading these terms wrong! Then I would sign up for KDP without hesitation.

    NOTE: They say “digital or physical edition of the Digital book.” What the heck does that mean, I wonder. Download versus CD?

  17. Great article! Short, simple, and precise. I think these types of articles are great, because they show EXACTLY what needs to be known, without too much hassle.

  18. The decision here has no impact on print books. The royalty payments depend on the country and whether or not you participate in KDP Select. Even if you choose 70% there are some countries where you get 35%. It is best to look at Amazon Kindle royalty page for these specific details since they are subject to change.

  19. Hi David
    I am a tutor and will be doing a very short informative course on creating an ebook -using the amazon KDP platform as an example.
    Is there a very simple explanation to use when discussing the Royalty issues.
    Would be grateful for your help.
    J

  20. Hello David, and all on this “thread!”

    This is EXTREMELY helpful, and thank you so much to David and you all!

    I have JUST launched the eBook written by my ex singing teacher, but have gone down the “self publishing,” route through my own fledgling company Novordium. I’ve done this largely to remove the queries expressed on this thread, and in order to SAVE money on giving away royalties, being charged for download etc.

    HOWEVER, though it’s VERY early days for me, and perhaps I’ve done far more than most for an author (I’ve formatted the ebook from “word,”, designed eCover, sourced “creative commons,” images, then labelled them etc, created the website, integrated the eCommerce, monitoring the customer service, hosting the site, in fact I’ve done EVERYTHING apart from writing the content) I cannot overstate how “stressful,” taking on this burden really is!!!

    And this is for an eBook I TRULY believe in, and am exceptionally proud to have DONE all of the above!!!

    I guess what I’m trying to say, without stating the obvious, is that if you’re an author, I suspect there’s NO way you’d want to have to spend the time and effort doing the “non creative,” sides of selling an eBook (oh, I’m doing the marketing as well!!!!)

    You MUST genuinely weigh up the trade off between giving away some of your profits, for the convenience (and my word it is a great convenience!) of using an established online “marketplace,” like Amazon etc, or keeping the lions share of profits (there will ALWAYS be costs of selling by your own means either for card payments, paypal, hosting, legalities etc) but having to do it ALL yourself.

    I’m discovering that the “all,” mentioned above is significantly MORE than I’d thought, and even after three days of launch I’m now having a look at the Amazon option?! Bearing in mind I’m not even the AUTHOR, so with my agreement I’d only get a far smaller share than the author of the “AMAZON,” royalty.

    Anyway, I hope that raises some questions, or things “self publishing,” authors may not have thought about?! I would say if anyone wants to hear more about my experiences, please don’t hesitate to contact me. jeremy.grainger@novordium.com.

    If I can help in any way, more than happy to!

    Sincerely Jezz

  21. Hi there, I stumbled upon your cool post and I thought I should mention that if you’re into looking a tool that will save you hours of trying to figure out what the KDP sales dashboard means, I’d suggest you try this tool here.

    No need to install anything. AKreport will transform your vanilla KDP dashboard into a useful one. You can try it for free at akreport.com.

    Thanks a lot

  22. You say it depends on the size of the book -My book has 135,000 words- should I go for 35% or 70% royalty?

  23. When you upload your book to KDP the system tells you your royalty based on selling price and the size of your book. That will answer your question.

  24. Hi. I’m a new author. My KDP ebook has graphics…file size is 5.2 MB The royalty page states at 35% my royalty is $1.40. At 70% it is $2.25. the “delivery charge” is listed separately as “$0.78” next to royalty. It does not show that the delivery fee was taken out of the royalty… so if I subtract the delivery fee… 70% royalty is $2.25 – $0.78 = $1.47…. this is only a 7 cent different from the 35% royalty. Am I interpreting this correctly? Which royalty rate would you select if there was such as small difference in the return? any suggestions helpful …Thank you!!!

  25. Why do non-Americans abroad, say in the Bahamas, have to pay 30 percent tax on KDP publishing? Is that the law?

  26. I am selling a 36 MB book (on the Word file I uploaded) for $4.49 with the 70% royalty option. It is possible I am actually losing money on this book (paying for the file delivery)???

  27. Never mind my last comment. 🙂 I just figured out the conversion MB is WAY different from the Word document MB on my computer. The conversion MB is only 8.64, so 70% is still good for me. 🙂

  28. Hi again, sorry but our office was closed for the holidays and I answered your other question before seeing this one. I’ll add that the Amazon system will create different versions of the Kindle book for different reading devices so you can’t always look at the file size on your computer. Best of luck.

  29. No one’s made the point that the 35% option is the one you choose if you’ve written a series and you want to price the first book of it at 99 cents in order to maximize sales. The rationale is that if your readthrough rates are good, it will pay to make purchase of book one an impulse purchase.

  30. I am publishing my first e book on Amazon. 40, 000 words. I would like it to reach as many countries as possible. Which royalty would you advise?

  31. Hello June, choose the highest that you qualify for as it doesn’t matter for your situation. If it’s a “35% country,” that’s what you get even if you select 70%. Most of your sales will be in “70% countries.”

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