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Writing and Publishing > What do you think of Amazon's ebook return policy?

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message 1: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 07, 2013 02:49PM) (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) I recently found out that there is a petition by authors and publishers to get Amazon to stop allowing people to return ebooks. I sure would like to know where to find this petition so I could sign it.

I really think there is too much fraud to have a refund policy on ebooks.

If someone purchases an ebook on Amazon, they have 7 whole days to return it. In that time they could read it and decide they don't like the book for whatever reason and get their money back...and we as authors get zip! That is NOT fair!

And if you are into fraud you can purchase the ebook...move the file to calibre, convert it to whatever ebook format you want...and keep it forever in your computer or ereader.

Simply not fair!

We authors have to put a STOP to this!!!

Anyone know where I can find the petition to sign it?


message 2: by Stan (new)

Stan Morris (morriss003) What annoys me is when people return my free book.


message 3: by Emma (new)

Emma Faragher | 146 comments I didn't even realise this. I had one return on my amazon sales thingy and thought it was strange. I figured it was someone who'd bought it by mistake and cancelled it. As someone who easily reads most books in an evening it seems grossly unfair to allow returns. Surely the readers could tell they wouldn't like a book by getting the sample or if they wanted to borrow it, join amazon prime and use the library service (because I'm sure they are losing customers for that of they let people just return paid for books when they've read them!). It's quite scary how much power amazon have over our books and how little choice we have, and they know it too. There are so few recourses for self publishing that we don't really have a choice (if you're not on amazon you miss out a huge section of the market). If you find the petition can you post the link?


message 4: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Stan wrote: "What annoys me is when people return my free book."

Why on earth would someone return a free book? That is downright offensive!

We need to stop Amazon from allowing this completely!


message 5: by Ken (new)

Ken Haramiru (haramiru) | 68 comments I'm ok with returns within, say, a couple of hours. I'm not ok with the numerous returns I've been able to prove were after 4-5 days.

On the returning a free book, I suspect the person thought of it like a library and thought that was the only way to get it off their Kindle. I wouldn't worry about that, there are a lot of older non-tech-savvy types on Amazon.

Back on returns of paid ebooks... it were people who'd had a bad experience I'd sort of be happy if I was saving myself bad reviews by allowing returns. But there have been entirely too many times where I can see a pattern of buying each one of my short stories, then returning them after a few days.

But, not a lot you can do about it when 85% of your business is Amazon sales.


message 6: by Calandra (new)

Calandra Hunter (calandrahunter) It'd be nice if there was a shorter return period than seven days, but on the other hand, sometimes you buy a book and don't immediately get round to reading.

Being able to return a book because it has formatting errors, or spelling/grammar/punctuation errors, or the writing style bothers them, or other reasons, is perfectly fair. Not all these things can be seen just in the sample.

Maybe Amazon could make a limit on how often you can return a book, like if you return books 50% of the time after you buy a book, you get a notice that you're returning books suspiciously often and aren't allowed to return books for a week, or something. A limit like that wouldn't bother people who only occasionally return a book, but would stop people who buy and then return.


message 7: by Steph, Space Opera Diva (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 807 comments Calandra wrote: "...Being able to return a book because it has formatting errors, or spelling/grammar/punctuation errors, or the writing style bothers them, or other reasons, is perfectly fair..."

Can readers specify why they're returning books (e.g. from a list of options)? I agree with a returns policy if it's intended to persuade the publisher to sort out formatting mistakes, for example.


message 8: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 09, 2013 04:42PM) (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Ken wrote: "I'm ok with returns within, say, a couple of hours. I'm not ok with the numerous returns I've been able to prove were after 4-5 days.

On the returning a free book, I suspect the person thought of..."

-------------------------------

Ken? 85%? Amazon only holds about 1% of my sales. Apple and Kobo, Sony, and Barnes & Noble hold over 85% of my sales more like it. And distributed via Smashwords.

Amazon is at the bottom of the barrel so far I can't even see it anymore. I certainly CAN do something about it. I can take my books off of there. No more of this bogus return policy crap. I wouldn't even miss that 1% sales.

All I know is that I didn't give Amazon permission to refund ANY of my books. In fact, through my CISS account through Canada for ISBN's, I specifically did NOT check-mark the section where it asked if refunds will be available. Absolutely not! Allowing refunds on a book is like refunding computer software or DVD's...you just don't do it because of fraud. People can copy anything nowadays!

And they DO!


message 9: by Ken (new)

Ken Haramiru (haramiru) | 68 comments Been publishing since October of last year.

80% of total historical sales have been Amazon
82% of this year's sales have been Amazon

There's a slight skew due to sales not being reported very quickly on the Smashwords affiliate network, but the lion's share of my stuff is still Amazon.

If returns just has one requirement, I'd be happy: I'd like people to be required to provide an explanation which filters back to us. As it stands right now I'm flying blind; I only know I get returns sometimes. There could be a TOC error, or I could just have an off-putting opener or something. I'd love to know about something like that in order to fix it.


message 10: by Sharon (last edited Jun 10, 2013 09:23AM) (new)

Sharon (fiona64) | 260 comments Kathleen wrote: "Ken? 85%? Amazon only holds about 1% of my sales. Apple and Kobo, Sony, and Barnes & Noble hold over 85% of my sales more like it. And distributed via Smashwords. "

That matches my experience as well. I realize that everyone's business is different, but my sales in ePub via Smashwords' distribution outnumber Amazon by a factor of 100:1 over time (that is not a typo) ... and I get a better royalty rate to boot.

Edited to add: I've been on Smashwords since 2009.


message 11: by Lex (new)

Lex Allen (lexallenbooks) Kathleen wrote: "Ken wrote: "I'm ok with returns within, say, a couple of hours. I'm not ok with the numerous returns I've been able to prove were after 4-5 days.

On the returning a free book, I suspect the perso..."



Kathleen - You're selling 85% of your work through Smashwords to B&N, Kobo, etc?

I could sure use some advice in that area. How do your market / promote to those markets? I've two books in the SW Premium listings (about 6 weeks). I had a lot of downloads and several sales in the first four or five days, but since then... very slow and no reviews. Anything special that I could do to enhance that dreary picture? Thanks!

Oh... and to subject discussion. I've not had any returns so I can't speak from experience. Still, I think I'd be totally against returning e-books or if so, as Ken wrote... I'd like to know why so that I could determine whether it was a problem that needed fixing or the reader simply... well, whatever... lol.


message 12: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 10, 2013 05:36PM) (new)

Kathleen Morris (kathleenmorris) Lex wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "Ken wrote: "I'm ok with returns within, say, a couple of hours. I'm not ok with the numerous returns I've been able to prove were after 4-5 days.

On the returning a free book, I ..."

------------------------------

Lex, I just keep putting more books up. It was advice other people told me when I first started. More books = more sales. Good covers also.

I am also a member of a Facebook marketing group as well where we promote each other every week. Seems to give us exposure. But mostly...you just have to be patient. And price your books right. Only give one away as a marketing tool if you have too. I have my short story collections up for $3.99, a play for $2.99 and two full length novels for $5.99 each. My new novel, published in May went up for $7.99 and I ain't ashamed to say it! I get sales. Much more than when I had my books up for .99cents.

I find, Apple and Barnes & Nobel to be the best for sales by far!

And P.S (about returns) I think people return books because they just don't like them. Everyone is different and likes different genres. Some people just read the summary and purchase. If it isn't what they thought it was...they return. I don't really think it has anything to do with formatting or typo's or any of that B.S. That's just a cover-up. They just didn't like what the book was about and thought it was something else. (This is only my opinion though)

My genre is kind of blurred. I write Christian Fiction but it's Suspense/Thriller/Horror as well...and that doesn't bode well with some. I have a friend that writes in a blurred genre too and she has had a return for unknown reasons as well. Formatting/editing/typo's were pretty well non-existent.

I'm pretty sure people just purchase and decide it wasn't what they thought it was going to be about, so they return the book.

This...if it's the case...is not acceptable to me! You can't return a book just because you didn't like the genre or what it was about. We can't get our money back after going to a movie we didn't like!


message 13: by Lex (new)

Lex Allen (lexallenbooks) Kathleen - Thanks for the response and advice... ;o).


message 14: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Bridges (albridges) | 25 comments Stan wrote: "What annoys me is when people return my free book."
This could be because of a market in India. I have a book that's free on Amazon.com, but that doesn't mean it's free in India, despite both being Amazon.com and I had someone return that my free book as well. You should be able to tell if you go into the 6 week sales figures because sales in India will be separated from the other sales.


I noticed an issue on Amazon as well with the UK market, where my first book isn't free. I've had exactly one download on the first and one download on the second book in the UK market and both were returned within two days of each other.
It's obvious to me that someone bought the books, read them, and returned them despite the fact that they liked the first book enough to read the second one.
Oh well, there isn't much that can be done and at least I know people are reading it!

In the month (exactly) that I've been published on Amazon and Smashwords, I've gotten 4x the sales on Amazon and I feel that is the same for a lot of authors. Maybe it has to do with where you're located?


message 15: by M.D. (last edited Jun 17, 2013 11:15AM) (new)

M.D. Bowden | 7 comments I think it's great that you can return books, as I've done it before after accidentally clicking the 'buy' button on my kindle. But I think the return period should be 1 day, or two hours, in case of such glitches. I don't think you should be able to return an any book if you've already read it - can you imagine taking a read book into a shop to return it? I personally think that the returns I get are mainly people who read it, then return it so they don't have to pay, but I'm just guessing.


message 16: by M.D. (new)

M.D. Bowden | 7 comments Or if it's being returned because it has a major fault, like chapters missing (it's happened in non-self published paperbacks I've read!) you should have to prove it.


message 17: by Ubiquitous (new)

Ubiquitous Bubba (ubiquitousbubba) | 413 comments I have conflicting feelings about this policy. On one hand, readers who attempt to game the system for free books hurt authors, not Amazon. On the other hand, the policy may serve to minimize the fear of getting stuck with a bad book. Since Amazon is attempting to attract customers away from brick and mortar stores, such a policy addresses the fear that some people may have towards buying from an online store.

I have no idea if this policy increases sales by minimizing the customer's risk. It would probably be difficult to determine an accurate percentage of increased sales. Certainly, if I felt that I was being victimized by people abusing this policy, I would be inclined to stop selling through Amazon. I hope I do not find myself in that position. Unless and until that happens, I will remain cautiously optimistic that the majority of customers are honestly buying the books and are not scamming the system.


message 18: by A.L., Stormy Chronicler (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 998 comments Not everyone who returns is doing so for dodgy regions, some do buy it and don't mean to do so, or just occasionally there is a fault. I almost never read a book within a week of buying it and where I to open it and find a problem I would want a refund.

Usually when you return you have to specify why. At least you do for other products.

Returns are, sadly, part of the business.


message 19: by Jake (new)

Jake Yaniak | 4 comments If you are trying to delete a sample from the Kindle the first choice (on my Kindle at least) is to Buy the book. If you are not careful it is easy to accidentally purchase a book with one little click.

I wish I knew about the return policy when that happened to me...


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

This is an thought-provoking problem without an easy solution, and I do not care for Amazon’s “no-questions-asked” refund policy. For those trying to cheat the system? Even if Amazon closes the account of serial read/returners after too many refunds are requested, what’s stopping them from just creating a new account under a different email and user name? Instead, I think the solution is to check how much of the book has been read. If less than 25%, then refund it. If more than that, then no refund. As for an appropriate time-period? I think 3 to 4 days is enough time. However, I think returns have more to do with e-pirates.

I feel that the dilemma isn’t that readers are purchasing a book(s) and returning them after reading them for a refund, the problem is most definitely related to e-piracy. Usually after a book has been refunded, within a day or two I can always find pirated copies. The major distributors of pirated eBooks purchase the book, remove the DRM, and then return it.


message 21: by A.L., Stormy Chronicler (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 998 comments Not everyone reads a book as soon as they get it. I don't for a start. Not that I return books unless they are faulty but even so. If I bought a book then read it in 6 months and there was something wrong I would want my money back. I do think returners should be asked why and if the product has more than 50% read then no refund.


message 22: by Denise (new)

Denise Jewell | 17 comments I don't believe in returning books unless there is a default. We have all bought books that we didn't like but that's the chance we take. This goes back before ebooks were ever thought of, we bought at book at the book store and that was it.


message 23: by Ross (last edited Sep 26, 2013 07:03AM) (new)

Ross Harrison (rossharrison) | 349 comments To me, this is not much different from piracy. What's the difference between me downloading a film for nothing, and buying a book, reading it and then returning it for a full refund?

That said, I did read somewhere that Amazon don't allow refunds on read books. I don't know if that's true.

I think the return timeframe should be 24 hours. You don't take 7 days to realise you bought a book by accident. If you buy a book and don't read any of it within 24 hours, then tough. I always skim through several pages as soon as it's on my Kindle, for no particular reason.

IF there are major issues further in, then you should have to specify (via actually writing, not drop down list), and give an example. Then I think Amazon should check said example. I know that would seriously stack up, but why should we lose out because Amazon are happy shitting all over authors to please customers? The only other reasonable choice is that Amazon wear half the refund themselves.


message 24: by A.L., Stormy Chronicler (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 998 comments I accidently bought a book recently but I didn't bother getting a refund as it was pretty cheap and was my own fault for not looking where I was clicking. I agree if there is fault with the item then refund but buying something in error should have much shorter limit.


message 25: by Anglia (new)

Anglia Spring (angliaspring) | 5 comments It's telling how many more people refund on Kindle than they do on Nook. I've been on Nook for almost two years, and I've only ever had one refund. On Kindle, I've had hundreds of refunds in two years. I agree with Ross about it being piracy. I'm not sure why Amazon doesn't do away with its relaxed return policy. You can't download movies and shows from Amazon Prime and return them, so ebooks shouldn't be an exception. Also, I don't think people will leave Kindle just because they can't refund something seven days later, and obviously Amazon is losing money by letting people read and refund. I fail to see the benefit of it to Amazon and authors. You don't return a book just because you don't like it. That's not a sound enough reason.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

I so agree! It's a stupid policy and so open to fraud. Anyone can read a book and return it on the flimsiest excuse, just to get their money back so they can purchase the next book! Why not just borrow from the library?


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Kathleen wrote: "I recently found out that there is a petition by authors and publishers to get Amazon to stop allowing people to return ebooks. I sure would like to know where to find this petition so I could sign..."

I'd happily sign that petition! Where can I find it?


message 28: by Ted (new)

Ted Summerfield (ted_summerfield) | 144 comments A petition to stop Amazon from allowing people to return ebooks? Good luck with that one. I'm just surprised that Amazon hasn't instigated a fee for returning the ebook.

After all, they do charge a fee for delivering a large ebook file so why not a fee for returning the same ebook?

Maybe if they began charging a fee to return ebooks there would be less returns?

Why not start a petition to have Amazon instigate a return fee on ebooks? That might get the attention of Amazon more than trying to stop them from allowing returns for free.


message 29: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (andrewlawston) | 35 comments Um.

Just to put this in context, I've sold 150 copies of my book in the last 18 months via Amazon. Not stellar, but hey, the reviews are good.

I've had 3 refunds. As I'm selling my book for a princely £0.77 - this means that even assuming the returners were fraudsters and not just people who'd clicked the wrong button, I've been 'scammed' out of... 75 pence.

Even if that ratio was scaled up to 300 out of 15,000 sales, I like to think I'd be pretty relaxed about it.

If your level of refunds is significantly higher than mine, to the point where you're looking at 10% or more of sales, I can see why you'd be more concerned. I'd also suggest respectfully that some aspect of your book's quality (design, formatting, content, whatever) might be more of a factor than fraud...


message 30: by Daphne (new)

Daphne Bois (daphnedubois) | 1 comments Hi guys!

I was just researching the returns thing, and here's the petition link if anyone wants it.

http://www.change.org/petitions/amazo...


message 31: by Steph, Space Opera Diva (new)

Steph Bennion (stephbennion) | 807 comments Is there any evidence that lots of people are abusing this policy? I've taken books back to high street shops before now (e.g. if two people bought me the same book at Christmas), but in that instance the window of opportunity to read something before returning it would be a lot longer than a week.


message 32: by Lana (new)

Lana Axe (lana_axe) | 14 comments I just released a new book this morning. I posted to Goodreads, Twitter, and my blog. Within minutes, I had one sale and one return on the brand new book. I also had one sale and one return on my other novel at the same time. Sound suspicious? I think it is. It's easy to download the file, strip drm if necessary, copy it or convert it and then return it. It's sad that people do this, but I doubt it's uncommon. I would think if the book was so bad you had to return it within minutes that you would leave a bad review. Not that I want a bad review, but some people just enjoy collecting free books that they will never read. Samples are available, so Amazon shouldn't allow returns. If someone is stealing from me, they are certainly stealing from others. I'm not important enough to be a target, but best selling authors probably are. I'd love to see return statistics for major publishers.


message 33: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Mattson (theexesinmyipod) The policy blows.
Seven days!?! It takes like three to read a book when you're on vacation. I wonder how much abuse is happening. Using the "honor system" on whether or not you actually read the book doesn't seem to make sense in this day and age. I think the authors should be offered the opportunity to give refunds to those who write negative reviews or were unhappy--but it should be the author's call.


message 34: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) They must keep track of who's returning stuff and I bet they don't accept returns if it happens too often. You have to understand that they too lose money out of returns and I know in my case, they lose a lot more than I make so I honestly believe that they keep an eye on those customers.


message 35: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Mattson (theexesinmyipod) G.G. wrote: "They must keep track of who's returning stuff and I bet they don't accept returns if it happens too often. You have to understand that they too lose money out of returns and I know in my case, they..."

Good point.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Hm, very interesting topic, I didn't know about it and it is clearly a bad idea to have this odd policy! They should stop it now! :P


message 37: by Jeru (new)

Jeru (auxbreak) | 4 comments i AGREE with everything written here. Amazon should at least release a study and statistics of which ones are often being returned and for what reason/s.

To be honest, no one should be bothered about fraud and illegal copying of books, it happens all the time. movies, software, etc. it's not like there's something that can be done. i can legally purchase a book and then distribute it in pdf, no sweat.

going back, i haven't tried returning a book, but i think there must be a short questionnaire that asks about the readers experience. this helps authors and publishers too and in the long run, the whole industry. Customers that abuse the policy must be warned or banned. (not that they might do it) but i don't think customers are always right.


message 38: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) Yes they ask your reason to return the book. I happened to return one because I had too many book pages opened and when I decided to buy one I was on the wrong page and the covers/titles were similar. I bought the wrong one. I returned it within a few minutes though.


message 39: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Bridges (albridges) | 25 comments The least Amazon should do is if someone returns a book, they shouldn't be allowed to purchase and return the next three books in the series. This has happened to me three times now, always from the UK site, strangely enough.


message 40: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) WOW well heck, I have to agree with you A.L. That's sure sounds a little fishy.


message 41: by Marla (new)

Marla Bradeen (mbradeen) | 49 comments I found the topic and comments on this blog post (and the original one it links to) interesting: Flagged as a Serial Returner of Kindle Ebooks.


message 42: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) And this person found it normal to return 60% (one year) and 40% (the other year) of their purchase? What makes it ok to return that many ebooks? I wonder if they do that with everything they buy? Or is it just because in their mind an ebook is not a real item?


message 43: by Elsie (new)

Elsie Paroubek Seeing as how everyone is an (ebook) author now, with high ratings and great reviews from there friends...I think a 7 day return policy is essential.
Too many mediocre "authors" duping customers with fake reviews/ratings.
Worthy authors will always be supported and suffer very little returns.


message 44: by Marla (new)

Marla Bradeen (mbradeen) | 49 comments Hi Elsie. If a reader feels duped into reading my book because of misleading information out there or bought it by accident, I don't have an issue with them returning it. But I think when ebooks are viewed as library items to be checked out and returned (as the generous return policy might lead some to believe) it becomes an issue.


message 45: by Storm (new)

Storm Chase Daphne wrote: "Hi guys!

I was just researching the returns thing, and here's the petition link if anyone wants it.

http://www.change.org/petitions/amazo......"


Thanks, Daphne! I'm signing this. I just saw my returns for a month and I have people returning novellas after three days. Right. Like they haven't read it and returned it. Pffft.


message 46: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Bridges (albridges) | 25 comments Storm wrote: "Daphne wrote: "Hi guys!

I was just researching the returns thing, and here's the petition link if anyone wants it.

http://www.change.org/petitions/amazo......"


I would like to sign it as well since I got screwed out of about $20 in sales last month from people buying and returning every book in the series, but it seems the petition is gone.
I now have a -1 units sold for my third book for this month. I can only assume that if I somehow don't sell anymore books this month, Amazon is going to send some 'representatives' over with a baseball bat and I'll be typing out a follow up to this from a hospital bed.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

I have signed this petition and so have some of my friends. I had someone return my book after three day, same thing happened a couple of months before. Smashwords don't accept refunds, it is about time Amazon did the same. If the ebook is flawed in some way or has serious formatting problems, surely you could go through a complains procedure to receive a refund. And like others have said before, people are treating KDP like a lending library.


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