When an author logged into their Kindle Direct Publishing to see their earnings for the past month, they were shocked to see that their earning was in the negative.
How could that be? It is all thanks to Amazon’s return policy for e-books that allows customers to “cancel an accidental book order within seven days.” That is more than enough time to read and return a book, all at the author’s expense.
Just a reminder that Amazon is NOT a library. When you read and return a book it COSTS the author… It's June 1st and I owe Amazon at the moment because people are reading through the Muse series and returning the books when they finish…. :-/ Authors need to eat too… 🙁— Lisa Kessler/L.A. Kessler – PERFECT – Out Now! (@LdyDisney) June 1, 2022
Amazon is the New Library
Many readers have been using Amazon as a bookstore and return the books before the 7-day cancellation period. Authors are paid royalty at the time of the purchase and if a person returns the e-book, the royalties are deducted from their earning balance. If an author has already been paid, then the author will go into a negative balance as a result.
This policy is flawed and is at the expense of the authors. A petition was started by Reah Foxx to change this policy after a viral post that taught people to abuse this amazon loophole. The petition has accumulated over 70,000 signatures to date.
As someone who is barely on social media, I still came across this hack. The people that are doing this hack either do not realize that they are hurting the livelihood of authors or just don’t care.
Nicole Givens Kurts, a science fiction author and fantasy author is one of many people affected by this recent trend.
Authors Need to Make a Living
Science fiction and fantasy author Nicole Givens Kurtz said she’s concerned that this trend will continue.
“If people continue to promote [reading and returning e-books], it impacts my income, which impacts my quality of life and my ability to take care of my family,” she said. “I don’t think readers quite understand or see the person behind the product.
Amazon is the only e-book retail company with this flawed policy where customers can return a book within seven days and get a full refund. Barnes & Nobles and Smashwords do not allow e-books to be returned and Apple and Kobo have a process in place that requires dealing with customer service.
To the irritation of many authors, e-books are the only digital products with this return process. Customers are not able to get a refund if they return a digital movie or digital music. That may be because those entities have mega corporations behind them whereas a lot of authors do not.
Amazon responded to this loophole with a statement:
“Amazon aims to provide the best possible experience for customers and authors. We have policies and mechanisms in place to prevent our e-books returns policy from being abused. We’re always listening to feedback and we investigate any concerns we receive.”an Amazon spokesperson said.
Fixing the Problem
Their doesn’t seem to be a mechanism in place to prevent this hack as of yet. Some authors have suggested that once a person reads 20 percent of the novel, then they cannot return it.
What do you make of this loophole and about Amazon’s return policy?