Is Amazon’s eBook Return Policy Ruining Authors’ Careers?


A petition is gaining popularity demanding that Amazon change its policy on ebook returns.

The current return policy on Kindle eBooks is that a customer can receive a full refund within 14 days of purchase. The policy applies regardless of the amount of book reading.

Critics worry that people will read entire books and turn them in regardless of enjoyment.

Author Reah Foxx started a petition on which has already gathered more than 20,000 signatories.

“There has been a huge increase in the number of author ebooks being returned to Amazon AFTER they have been read,” she wrote in the petition.

“When you read the book, you CONSUMED the product. Returning a book after reading 10-20% is one thing. But when the book has been read in its entirety, it should not be allowed to be returned. End of the conversation.”

She goes on to explain that authors must pay download fees for customer purchases that are not refunded when readers return the book. This can lead to authors incurring overall losses when too many people return their purchases.

“In other words, the AUTHOR paid for this person to read his book!” she writes.

Damage to self-published authors

Sue Bordley is a teacher and author who has self-published several books on Amazon under her name and a pseudonym, Jess Molyneux. Forgoing the gatekeepers of publishing houses, Bordley found Amazon incredibly helpful in forging his literary career.

“Publishers pitch books to celebrities to write novels because there’s a ready-made fan base instead of taking a chance on an unknown author,” she says. “But if you can use self-publishing and social media, you can get noticed.”

But Bordley notes that just because Amazon doesn’t have publishing gatekeepers doesn’t make the act of writing a book any less difficult.

“Books take months to write and people get them for nothing and that’s not fair,” she says.

“It costs quite a lot for an author to put together a book, by the time you’ve arranged a cover, if you’ve paid for layout and proofreading services. You run out of pocket before you put that book on the shelves and you have to sell a certain amount to just break even. Some freelance writers are going to start saying, “I can’t afford to keep doing this anymore.” It would be really unfortunate. »

“Amazon needs to have a policy in place that if every page has been turned, you can’t get a refund. In the days of CDs, you couldn’t return a CD once the cellophane came off,” says Bordley.

Audible is even worse

If the problem is serious for ebooks, it is even worse for audiobooks sold on Amazon’s Audible platform.

On Audible, the return policy for people unhappy with their audiobooks is as long as one year after purchase. This policy also applies regardless of the amount of books you have listened to.

TikTok user and author Nikki Haverstock details her experience with the issue. “When you have very few sales, the returns really stand out.”

“When you see a sale of your first book, then a return of your first book, then you see a sale of your second book, then a return of your second book, and a third and a fourth, what happens is quite Someone reads your series and returns each book.

“Audible is known to encourage this behavior,” she says.

“Sometimes you’ll get an automated email saying, ‘Didn’t like your book? Return it free of charge”. And people talked to customer service and said ‘I finished it, can I still return it?’

“It’s become a real problem because a lot of Audible users use it as a lending library,” she says.

The petition asks Amazon to change its policies. But even with the 25,000 signatories needed for to become one of its most signed petitions, will Amazon take notice?

“Amazon makes a ton of money off of us authors, it would be nice to see some loyalty from them,” Bordley concludes.


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