It’s the publishing world’s version of Moneyball: Amazon has changed its pay structure for self-published authors on the Kindle Unlimited program. Instead of being paid once for the purchase of a whole book, they will be paid by the page. Joseph Brean at the National Post explores the significance of this new “tyranny of the metric“:
It’s a subtle tweak to business strategy that could change both the style and profitability of self-published books, from fan fiction to memoir. But it is also reflective of a force that has swept over all the creative professions in the digital age, nearly killing some of them, and forcing others to dramatically adapt to survive — the tyranny of the metric.
From shares, likes, retweets and comments to clicks, favourites and page views, nearly every aspect of modern creative culture is evaluated, bought and sold via countable nuggets that aspire to reduce quality to quantity.
It is not just creative writing. The trend is evident across the humanities, from psychology’s obsession with data collection to philosophy’s flirtation with experimentation. But writing has felt it most deeply, with the most drastic industrial effects.
Of course the question is, Where Amazon goes will others be soon to follow? And will changing the way authors are paid for their work change the nature of that work?