The Importance of Digital File Size at KDP


I recently ran across an author who was frustrated that she could not price her ebook at .99 and had reached out to ask why. After some looking around, it seems like there may have been a built-in safety tool to prevent Amazon from losing money based on their terms of service. If there’s anything that the almighty Zon hates, it’s losing money. Ultimately, it comes down to digital file size, and regardless of what anyone else says, size matters.

It may be worth noting (like in a cash-value sense) that when KDP encodes your file into their digital format it tells you what your file size is. Most people miss that detail, it’s item #2 on the graphic. Many authors I’ve heard from say that KDP doesn’t always  encode it at a conservative rate; one author reports a file being a few hundred kilobytes but coming out at a couple megabytes at KDP (like 400-500% larger). That may be part of the format difference, or a variety of other factors, but those author also report re-uploading and then getting a better file size, so sometimes we can only blame it on a glitch in the matrix. Also, KDP has a 650MB maximum size, in case you have a graphic intense comic, graphic novel, or photobook that is being blocked for size reasons.


The above graphic is from a short how-to guide that has several graphics. Item #1 shows the royalty rate, #2 is the file size, and #3 shows the delivery charges. You can experiment with these numbers, but here’s the rub: the 35% rate will get you free delivery of your electronic data, but the 70% rate will not. Depending on your market, it could be possible to have a book cost you money to sell (plus not be available on other platforms because of exclusivity in the TOS… I have a book costing me money right now, in fact. I’m waiting for a response from KDP Support, but suspect this is the cause.) Below is the data from KDP’s guidelines.


It is important to keep these figures in mind when you finalize your products! Yes, this is an un-fun side of writing: the business angle. Derek over at Creative Indie notes that reconverting his files has saved him hundreds of dollars annually, and he recommends a program that I also use quite often for converting files: Calibre. Its conversion results are usually far smaller in file size than that given by the KDP automated system.

In addition to re-converting with Calibre or other software, you can reduce image resolutions, clean up extraneous encoding, and remove embedded fonts (or save only the parts that you need, also an option in Word’s settings.) Little things make a big difference if you begin to sell lots of digital copies.

While this sounds like it might be more work than you want to do, there is an easy solution if you’re not a do-it-yourselfer: outsource it to someone on Fiverr!  People are willing to do it there for as little as $5. I use Fiverr freelancers often and I’m usually happy with the results.

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