Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Discrepancies in KENPC - Are They Real?

There has been a lot of discussion about the method used by Amazon to calculate the number of pages in a book.  That number is what Amazon has dubbed the KENPC or Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count.

There has been a lot of discussion, and most of it is wrong.

As writers, we often measure the length of our book by the word count then we estimate the word count by doing a little math. If I wrote 60,000 words and I expect to have 300 words per page, then I have a book around 200 pages.

The problem with that math is that your pages don't have 300 words (or whatever number you pick). The actual number of pages for a 60,000 word book will seldom work out that easily, and it will vary from writer to writer and from book to book.

Many authors are trying to apply the word count method to figure out how Amazon is getting the page number, and they haven't been able to come up with a number that works the same every time. They assume there must be some error on Amazon's part.

There might very well be errors in Amazon's calculation (it is at version 1.0 after all), but this isn't one of them.

Amazon is not calculating the KENPC based on word count.  Efforts to apply a word count based calculation are going to produce discrepancies. This method doesn't work for print books. Why would it work for an ebook any better?

According to Amazon's own website, "We calculate KENPC based on standard settings (e.g. font, line height, line spacing, etc.), and we use KENPC to measure the number of pages customers read in your book, starting with the Start Reading Location (SRL) to the end of your book. Amazon typically sets SRL at chapter 1 so readers can start reading the core content of your book as soon as they open it."

At this time we don't know what the font is, how big the font is, how much space will be used between each line or paragraph, or even how big a page is.  Our best estimates are just guesses. As guesses they might be in the right ball park, but they are just as likely to be wrong as they are right in any given situation.

What seems reasonable based on Amazon's claim to using line height and line spacing in the calculation is that how your words lay out on the page mean as much as the actual number of words.

Let's look at two examples.

Example  1
This is a short sentence on one line. This is a second sentence.

Example 2
This is a short sentence on one line.
This is a second sentence.

In the first example everything fit on one line. In the second, I started a new paragraph, forcing a second line.  The number of words didn't change in the examples, but the space needed doubled in Example 2.

How many paragraphs do you fit onto a page? Are all of your paragraphs the same length? The more paragraphs you have on a page, the less words you'll have on it. The less words you have on a page, the more pages you'll need.

It's easy to see how your writing style can impact the KENPC of your book.

If you have two 60,000 word books and one comes in with a KENPC of 280 and the other comes in with a page count of 300, it probably isn't something to get too worked up about.

On the other hand if you have two 60,000 word books and one comes in with a KENPC of 280 and the other comes in with a KENPC of 10, then you should immediately contact KDP Support.

You can use the Contact US button at the bottom left of the KDP Help Page.  The odds are the Start Reading Location (SRL) is not being set correctly.  This happened to me and after two emails back and forth the issue was resolved in just a few hours.

Don't be surprised if the first email is the canned text about how KENPC is calculated. When you get that, calmly and politely explain why you think you have a problem. Provide examples if you can. The quickest way to get your issue ignored is to be rude to the person who is trying to help you.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Checking Your Amazon KENPC

KENPC is the acronym for the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count. It is the way that Amazon will be determining the number of pages in an ebook included in one of the Kindle borrow programs. (KOLL - Kindle Owners' Lending Library or KU - Kindle Unlimited)

To check your page count do the following:
  • Go to your Bookshelf
  • Click on the Promote and Advertise link next to your book. This link will only be available if you are included in one of the borrow programs which happens automatically when you join the Kindle Select program.
  • Look for the box titled "Earn royalties from the KDP Select Global Fund". Your page count will be displayed at the bottom of that box.