July 3, 2015 Last Updated 7:15 am

Greece, Amazon, the World Cup and the July 4th holiday

Morning Brief: as TNM wraps things up for the holiday weekend, a few thoughts on the major news stories that will likely dominate the weekend

The weekend starts early in the U.S. and tomorrow is Independence Day, and thus today is a day off for many. As such a large number of TNM readers reside elsewhere it felt appropriate to at least start the day with the usual ‘Morning Brief’ article.

tsipras-500This weekend promises to be a lazy one here in the U.S. but things continue to heat up in Greece, as voters are set to vote on the government’s referendum. Or are they?

Greece’s highest administrative court may still rule that the bailout referendum set for Sunday violates the constitution, which would lead to utter chaos. But having the vote likely won’t settle anything either as polls show the country split and so a small win for the No side – the side promoted by the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, would hardly alter the mood of negotiators. A Yes vote likely would mean the government would resign – and where would that leave negotiations?

Many self-publishing authors are also in a state of confusion today after Amazon altered the rules by which it pays those participating in its Kindle Unlimited program.

The program’s total payout amount is set my Amazon, and so changes to the program would not mean less money will be paid out, just who gets the money. Amazon is now set to pay authors not based on sales (lending) but by the number of pages readers actually read.

This, in theory, rewards those authors writing longer works (and by inference, more serious works) rather than those writing shorter works (such as romance).

“We’re always looking at ways to make our programs even better, and we’ve received lots of great feedback on how to improve the way we pay KDP authors for books in Kindle Unlimited,” Amazon wrote to participants. “One particular piece of feedback we’ve heard consistently from authors is that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers. We agree.”

Amazon then went on to explain payment scenarios:

• The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

• The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

• The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The thing to remember, though, is that Amazon sets the total payout. It can, as it has done, add money into the total pool to encourage more authors participating. It can also control the total payout to make sure the program is profitable (or at least not terribly unprofitable).

My assumption is that most TNM readers are not interested in Kindle Unlimited from a publishing side – that is, as commercial publishers we would rather distribute our works as widely as possible. But I know there are also readers who publish their works, so for them, they have been watching Amazon’s changes quite closely (and likely reading the many book publishing websites that cover these developers more closely than TNM).

But Amazon’s moves have caught the attention of the mainstream media as newspapers such as The Guardian have noticed that some authors, especially authors of shorter works (let’s call them romance writers) are especially upset, while another set of writers are dismissing the controversy as they see the rule changes benefiting them.

It can all get pretty confusing and it really wouldn’t be of much interest to publishers were it not a sign of just how influential Amazon is and how important it is to self-publishers. But this may be the first last time TNM mentions this subject as those on either side of the debate are pretty passionate about the subject, and pretty sure they know the true state of the industry. That’s a sure sign that it is best to step back and watch the fireworks.

I was really looking forward to a final in the Women’s World Cup featuring the US against England. But Japan will be facing the US after one of the most dramatic endings to a World Cup game occurred when an English defender, trying to interupt a pass to a charging Japanese attacker, accidentally tipped the pass into her own goal.

EngJapan“Oh no! Heartbreak for England!” wrote The Guardian’s Tim Hill as he liveblogged the match. The own goal came in stoppage time, which meant it effectively determined the outcome.

The own goal was also met with universal sympathy for the English defender as no one can believe it happened and appeared to be part of an honest attempt to break-up the play. Actually, this is true of most own goals, it’s not as if defenders suddenly change sides, right? But this one seemed special and all the more tragic.

If you haven’t seen it, it comes at the 2/3rds mark of this FIFA video of match highlights: YouTube.

So, on Sunday, sometime after the voting has ended in Greece, the US will play Japan in a rematch of the 2011 final (which Japan won on penalties).

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