If you are an author whose book fails to grip in the opening chapter, it could prove costly.

Amazon is to begin paying royalties to writers based on the number of pages read by Kindle users, rather than the book they download. If a reader quits the book a quarter of the way in, the author will get a quarter of the money they would have earned if the reader had stuck it out.

Some authors believe it sets a dangerous precedent, while concerns have also been raised about the data Amazon is mining from customers.

Amazon claims its method is a fair way of rewarding authors who write lengthy books but have earned the same as someone who crafts 100 pages. The new system, due to begin on July 1, initially applies to authors who self-publish via the Kindle Direct Publishing Select programme.

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Hari Kunzru, the award-winning author of The Impressionist, said the system "feels like the thin end of a wedge". Peter Maass, a writer and editor, tweeted: "I'd like same in restaurants - pay for how much of a burger I eat." Kerry Wilkinson, a self-published author, believes the system is fair but said he found it "eerie" that Amazon was keeping tabs on how you are reading.