There’s a disturbing new trend on social media that could bankrupt authors. I first learned about it on Facebook, but it’s since traveled throughout all social media.
Some readers feel it’s fine to buy a Kindle book on Amazon, read it, enjoy it, and then return it for a full refund. After all, who’s it hurting? Authors, that’s who.
Did you know if authors rack up too many returns Amazon can send them a bill? I didn’t realize this, either, but it’s happening as we speak. I’ve heard from more than a few Indie authors who, along with royalty payments they received a bill for returns. And these are professional authors who sell 200-500 books per week.
Before you dismiss this post because you think it doesn’t apply to you, this trend affects all authors regardless of how they choose to publish.
A massive influx of returns might result in a publishing house dropping the author. At the very least, they may be hesitant to buy the author’s next book. Why? Because too many returns give the impression that readers are not enjoying the series, when in fact these habitual returners do it to save money. For some reason they’re under the misguided impression that all authors are rolling in dough. They also don’t take into consideration how hard we work. Most authors I know work six days per week, sometimes seven if they fall behind.
Is it fair for these habitual returners to prevent us from earning a livable wage?
Look. I’m not sayin’ if the book sucks due to a lack of editing or poor formatting you shouldn’t be able to return it. That’s different. But to read the entire book and then return it is just plain wrong. Would you go to a theatre, watch the movie, and then ask for your money back because you didn’t like the ending? Of course not. So, why do habitual returners think the same rules don’t apply to ebooks?
Amazon makes it easy to return digital products within a seven-day period. Here’s the kicker. If these habitual returners continue to game the system, Amazon can stop them from buying more Kindle books for at least a year. Nowhere could I find the parameters of what’s considered abuse, but there’s at least one habitual returner who publicly apologized for her behavior after getting banned from Amazon.
Thankfully, I haven’t seen an increase in returns, but this new trend worries me. Some authors are even habitual returners — and they’re bragging about it on social media! I will never understand what goes through some people’s mind. Be reckless all you want with your own life, but don’t let your crazy loose on the rest of us.
I have never returned a Kindle book in my life, and I’ve slogged through more than my share of crappy reads. Now, I download the sample first. If I like it, I buy it. If I don’t, no harm done. That’s why Amazon has the sample feature.
The return feature is available for readers who one-click by mistake.
SUBSCRIPTION ALTERNATIVES THAT DON’T HARM AUTHORS
Join Kindle Unlimited
For $9.99 a month, you can read an unlimited number of Kindle books. You will only have access to books within the KU library, but for voracious readers it’s a good option. Amazon offers a free 30-day trial period or a two-month deal for $4.99.
FREE ALTERNATIVES THAT DON’T HARM AUTHORS
Yes, you need a Prime account, but most households have one to save shipping costs. If you don’t, you will need a subscription ($99/yr.). Otherwise, a Prime account automatically gives you access to FREE Prime Reading books. I’ve found some amazing new-to-me authors this way. If I love the author’s writing, I usually buy all their books, but that’s me. You could stay within the Prime Reading lending library and never buy another ebook.
Local Libraries Offer FREE Ebooks Through Libby.
Download Libby from the App Store or Google Play. The welcome page will ask if you have a library card.
If you do, click YES.
Then click ADD LIBRARY.
Enter your zip code.
Select your local library from the list.
Enter your library card details.
If you don’t have a library card, click NOT YET.
Libby will walk you through requesting a library card through the app.
Once you’re inside Libby, you can browse through the books or search for a specific title, author, or genre. Libby adds new titles all the time.
If you read on a Kindle device, click READ ON KINDLE and Libby will open an Amazon account log-in window.
Enter Amazon username and password, and the ebook will automatically download to your Kindle.
Never worry about late fees. At the end of the loan period (time varies among local libraries), the book vanishes from your device.
Libby also provides audiobooks, as Jim mentioned in this post. If you live outside the U.S., you can access Libby through Overdrive.
Become a Reviewer on NetGalley
Use NetGalley for free to request, read, and recommend books before they are published — and provide essential reviews and feedback to publishers and other readers.
Contact Your Favorite Author
Tell the author how much you love their work and ask to join their ARC team. If you keep up your end of the bargain by posting honest reviews, the authors will continue to send you FREE ARCs. Plus, you’ll be the first to read new releases!
With all these free options, why return Kindle books? Unless you one-click by mistake or the book is riddled with typos or formatting errors, please, please, please stop returning ebooks to save money. Think about your favorite authors. Do we deserve to feed our family? Do we deserve a roof over our head? Do we deserve heat in the winter and cool air in the summer? Then let us earn a living. We’re not asking for donations. We’re simply asking habitual returners to stop stealing our work.
If you want to help prevent this trend from continuing, sign the Change.org petition.
TKZers, have you heard of this disturbing new trend? Have you been affected by it yet?