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Monday News: Amazon publishing acknowledges that its authors should expect to...

The Marvin iOS App and the Aldiko App for Android offer nice Dropbox integration. Many readers already do this by downloading to a sub-folder that is part of their dropbox account or, like me, use Calibre. For me, Calibre library is stored in a Dropbox Subfolder but for others, this simple integration may be more useful. Smashwords

This author calls the person who returns a “jerk.” Given that I return books, I guess that makes me a jerk too. I think what this author doesn’t realize is that a lot of times, readers buy and then don’t actually get to the book until days, maybe even weeks later. Are there abusers of the system? No doubt, but I don’t think that it’s as high as authors conclude.

I suspect how long the return period should be and whether they should be allowed at all is largely dependent on whether you sit on the reader or author side of the fence. Paste Magazine

“Durham said that while Amazon wants to make its books available to anyone who wants to carry them, “our business model doesn’t depend on distribution outside of Amazon.” She acknowledged that limited sales through retailers mean Amazon needs to provide authors with “a great publishing experience,” noting, “If we were not able to do that, then we’re not going to be the best publisher fit for them.”” Publishers Weekly

The cream is what gave cheese its color and to make up for this, farmers began coloring the cheese in order for it to look more robust. Now, we’ve become more accustomed to non yellow cheese and Kraft announced that artificial dyes would be abandoned in its cheesy products. The Salt : NPR

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. ChibiNeko
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 05:17:59

    I’m of two minds about returning e-books. I don’t personally do it, but I know people do it for a lot of reasons. I’ve read some reviews where people have returned books for the sheer amount of grammatical and spelling errors in the first chapter or two of the text, so they’re likely doing it as a way to prove a point that someone shouldn’t get paid for a book the author couldn’t be bothered to edit. I guess the point of mentioning that is that not every person is a jerk for returning an e-book.

  2. DS
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 06:00:40

    Considering that you get a year to return an Audible book and about 30 days to return a physical book at most stores, 7 days ebook returns seem quite reasonable.

  3. LG
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 06:35:55

    I wonder what some authors would hate more: e-book “jerks” who return e-books with horrible editing errors, or “mean” reviewers who take care to note bad editing?

  4. Carolyne
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 06:59:57

    If a book is “bad” enough–the criteria for that vary, whether it’s atrocious editing, unreadable formatting, ridiculously bad or offensive writing (subjectively speaking), books that take a major quality nosedive after the sample section–I’ll return it even if it only cost me 99 cents.

    I’d do the same for a print book but often don’t because it’s also easy to pass a print book on to someone else, put it in a book swap, sell it to a used-book store, give it to one of the people selling scavenged books on the street. Can’t pass along many of the ebooks I buy, so if they’re truly not readable, back they go.

  5. gayle63
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 07:07:41

    Book returns are going to happen, same as with clothes or purses that someone has worn to a party and now doesn’t want to pay for. If you spend time in a bookstore, you can see people treat it like a library, reading magazines at the cafe table, then leaving them there, copying recipes without buying the book – even dog-earing books and coming back a couple of times every week to sit in the store and read without buying it. People are cheap! I’m sure sometimes it is a situation of the book not appealing or being of poor quality, but I think the majority of instances are just a matter of people wanting to get something for nothing. There should be a return policy, but maybe tighten it up to three days. I believe Amazon already has a policy of cutting off people who return too many items. It’s not just books; pretty much all retail items have high return rates (even when those items have clearly been used!).

  6. Sirius
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 07:18:53

    I very rarely return Amazon books, maybe one book every few months ( on average I mean, I recently return a book and I think the last one I returned was maybe a year ago) but I absolutely do it and I will be very upset if Amazon caves in to their idiotic demands. As you said – people with huge TBR often do not open the book right away and may not get to it within seven days. You guys do not want people to return your books? Write better books and make sure they are edited well. I already mostly ignore the self published authors ( and in m/m most books are from small presses and self published) unless I know the author or somebody recommended it and I trust this person or I can try by reviewing first. But at times I still venture in the unknown territory and take chance on the author I never heard of. I can * guarantee* that if Amazon gets rid of seven days return window I will never buy another indie book by the author I never heard of. Trust me, my list is humongous as it is – hundreds of books I bought and I wonder whether I get to some of those in my life time plus the books I review. Do I sound cranky? That’s because I am – as I said I very rarely do it but it is a matter of principle for me, you think that it is more important to prevent some potential abusers of the system to use amazon as a library than to make legit customers happy because they feel they at least have few days to return a crappy product?

  7. Ros
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 07:21:56

    I would be very alarmed if ebooks became non-returnable. I think it’s important that customers can return mistaken purchases and faulty goods, but I also think that if someone realises they just aren’t enjoying one of my books, they can change their mind. I’d rather the customer is happy. I do understand the frustration some people have when they see each of their books in a series bought and returned, in order, over the course of a few days. The only way round that sort of customer that I can see is for Amazon to do what they do now and police accounts with disproportionately high numbers of returned ebooks. I wonder what level of returns prompts Amazon to start investigating an account.

  8. Sirius
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 07:23:28

    Gayle63 – so true I also read that Amazon closes accounts if they feel that people returned too many books ( whatever too many means for them) and I am all for it – you abuse the system, good bye. But if I read the few pages ( my last return was too or three pages) and am not satisfied, why the heck not? Especially when I am so conscientious about it and try to do it only when I am very annoyed.

  9. Ros
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 07:25:00

    @Sirius: That’s a really good point. I definitely think I’d lose more sales if books became unreturnable than I do from returns. I want readers to feel able to take a chance on a book, knowing they can return it if it’s not what they wanted.

  10. Tina
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 07:55:07

    I always ask what the return policy is before I purchase an item — not just ebooks. Anything really. This is not something that I used to do. But I have gotten burned so many times items that don’t stand up to even the least amount of wear and tear. And if the return policy doesn’t seem reasonable, I don’t purchase and probably wouldn’t shop at the store very much if at all.

  11. Amanda
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 08:06:11

    I once accidentally downloaded an eBook and it took for ever to clear up. There is still about $2.00 taken from my gift card balance and labeled as pending from that one time. Anyway that has scared me away from returning any eBooks. Not that I would return that many, there has only been a few times were the grammar or size of an ebook has bothered me enough to want to return one.

  12. Keishon
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 08:17:59

    The contentious issue of returning books is as old as the internet. Or just about. The arguments against the return of them amuses me. My testomonial to returns is that I had two that were necessary: B&N credited me back as a “courtesy” for compatability issues and it was pretty fast and Kobo also credited me back for bad formatting (and it was really bad). The key is to send those emails off the same day. Waiting longer than that and I doubt they’ll even read the email. I don’t think they do returns for buyer’s remorse. I don’t think the abuse of the system is unique only to Amazon. These days, most retailers track serial returns.

  13. Elaine
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 09:02:02

    I’ve never returned an Amazon e-book. However, in the early days, before I learned it was even an option, I probably would have. However, those experiences taught me to read the samples, and I only download the full version now if I like the sample, unless it is an author on my short list of Tried and True.

    However, I’ve rarely even returned a paper book to physical book store. I only do so if it is a book that I purchased then get home and find it is a duplicate. (Being able to use LibraryThing at the book store is a Good Thing.) I am a speed reader (self-taught) and can easily read a novel in a few hours. For Authors I Do Not (Yet) Trust, I have access to an excellent public library system, which almost always has books in which I am remotely interested.

    However, if I downloaded a file, and found out that it had massive data corruption, I would return it in a flash. I’ve even considered once or twice when I downloaded a file thinking it was a novel, paying novel prices, and it turned out to be closer in length to a novella. This is real obvious when the kindle shows short bars for a work, and then the last tenth of a file is various filler.

  14. It's Me
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 09:09:33

    I’ve returned a book because it went on sale within a couple days of me buying it. I bought it at $4 and a couple days later it was $.99. I returned and re-bought. I’ve returned a couple books because they were just terrible, whether it was grammer or just the story itself. My book money is precious to me, I don’t get a ton of it so I have to be picky.

    I bet the percentage of people who read an entire book, liked it and then returned it is very low compared to reasons why I and other people have returned books.

  15. Arethusa
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 09:14:56

    I was not even aware that authors had an issue with book returns until I started reading romance sites online. A big sore point were those customers (like myself) who returned a book because it wasn’t good. That’s it. Usually, they would point out that you can’t ask for refunds when you go the cinema. Very true. As a result, I go the cinema…maybe twice a year? Maybe twice because there are so few big films that I feel are worth the funds, and there are no cool independent theatres in my area.

    So. You can’t own ebooks, you can’t share ’em, you can’t resell ’em, you can’t read ’em on whichever device you like (for some major formats), and nooooow…here’s to narrowing the return window if one offers it at all?

    Uh huh.

  16. JennyME
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 09:18:29

    I wish some of these authors would take more of a customer service approach to book buying instead of living in the fantasy land that 1. everything they crap out is perfect and anyone who gives it less than 5 stars or returns a book is a troll, and 2. there is nothing useful to be learned from unhappy readers. Some authors feel strangely entitled to success but don’t want to pony up the most basic ingredients for it.

  17. Sirius
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 09:28:14

    I do personally feel that using Amazon as a library ( unless it is kindle library heh) is not right – if I read the whole book I would never return it, that’s me, but if you read a little more than those super short samples which often are the only polished part of the book, why not? My latest return was because I read one sentence closer to the end of the book – yep . I mean as I said I read few pages in the beginning and end, but this sentence made me so angry because if I knew this was that kind of story I would never ever bought it. So this writer would not get a terrible review from me because I do not do DNF reviews – isn’t that a win win situation?

  18. Arethusa
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 10:01:19

    For me it is not about moral vs immoral returns: I read the whole book, I read half the book, I read 100 words more than a sample, the grammar was terrible, surprised by racist character, didn’t match my pedicure — all of these are besides the point for me. I don’t buy products from retailers which do not have an exchange or refund policy, period.

    For books it is rarely an issue for me because my purchasing habits far outpace my reading — once I manage to get around to a book the return/exchange window is long gone. With print books it’s even less of an issue because, as someone else mentioned, I can give it away, do book exchanges, resell/exchange for used books, donate to the library and so on. As a reader I get such a short stick with ebooks that any more restrictions would make them incredibly unattractive; especially when there is a higher occurrence of badly formatted books with terrible editing. At that point I would simply refrain from trying out new authors, unless they got a DA rec (maybe). 95% of my favourite authors and presses along all genres still do print so it would be no great loss to my reading life.

    Serial returners should be penalised and retailers do monitor that, no? I think Sirius is right: if you make it almost impossible to return ebooks a potential consequence of that is going to be a proliferation of DNF reviews.

  19. Mzcue
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 10:03:40

    Re: Orange Cheese: I lived in the Netherlands for a number of years and adapted quite quickly to the absence of lurid color in my cheese. In fact, it was more difficult to adjust to our American palette when I returned. Bright orange and yellow belong in foods with naturally high beta carotene. I will be delighted to see the return of lovely white cheese to the grocery shelves, assuming that other cheese makers follow Kraft’s lead. Thanks for the good news.

  20. Julia
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 10:12:21

    There will always be returns in retail. If you’re selling a product, some buyers will return it — for any number of reasons. Self publishing is a business and you have to look at these things as business, not personal. And if your returns are over 10 percent, that probably indicates either a problem with your book (quality) or with your marketing (people aren’t getting what they expected).

  21. Blossom
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 12:44:17

    I guess I am a jerk too Jane. I bought a book last month then realized it was second in the series. There was no description whatsoever about this. It’s a Christmas book because once a year I splurge on a Christmas read this book was $10 and I bought the prequel which was $6 so last night as I was organizing my Christmas reads I found the series is part of a spin off which is also part of an earlier series! So that’s two series and one book I would have to read to get to the Christmas one. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make it that far so why waste that much money? I am way past the 7 day return so I contacted Kindle support and explained it to them. They were great and refunded me the price of both books. Had the author mention it was part of a spin off or series I would had passed it by but there wasn’t anything in the blurb about it. It’s so hard to find stand alone Christmas romances anymore. :(

    I seldom return cheap books unless it’s unreadable or I own the book already but these books totaled $16+tax. Had they been hard copies I could resell or gift but they are ebooks and that is alot of money to lose.

  22. Susan
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 13:19:27

    I’ve never returned an ebook, but there are occasions I probably should have. From reading the comments, it sounds as if there’s no consensus on the “allowable” criteria for returning ebooks. I guess I’m unclear on when it’s OK to return, and when it’s not.

  23. KathrynD
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 14:48:00

    When a e-book is returned what do they tell the customer service person for the reason for the return? Are there certain reasons why they will not let them return the book?

  24. Jamie Beck
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 14:50:24

    I’ve never returned a book. I usually sample the book, and most of the time, I get a pretty good idea of the story/writing from those first 15-20 free pages. Of the books I buy (and I read an average of 3/week), there have been a few books that I’ve finished and wished I hadn’t…and a few DNFs. I suppose I wouldn’t feel badly about returning a DNF, but if I finish the book, I wouldn’t return it. To me, that would be like someone wearing an outfit without cutting the tags and then taking it back to the store.

    I agree that writers can learn from those returns provided they receive the feedback/reason for the return. If/when I publish, I promise not to gripe about returned books! At the end of the day, I’m most interested in finding an audience who appreciates my voice and stories, not in forcing people to pay for something they hated. Generally speaking, I think most people are fair and ethical and not looking to abuse the system and steal anything (of course, the popularity of the pre-iTunes illegal music sharing sites like Napster might prove me wrong…LOL).

    Interesting topic, though. And always, thought-provoking comments, too.

  25. Caroline
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 15:30:15

    I suspect most authors’ concerns about returns would be put to rest if they were getting any feedback about WHY the ebooks are returned. I don’t know if retailers require a reason to return, but none of that info gets to the authors. Was it formatting, or egregious typos? Those can be fixed, and most authors want to know about them. If there’s a technical or production quality problem with the ebook, a reader should be able to return it, no matter how long ago it was bought.

    What many authors fear is that some people are buying the ebooks, reading them to the end, and then returning them just because they can, which is probably where the ‘jerk’ comment came from. In the absence of any sort of reporting on returns, authors don’t know otherwise. Since indie authors who self-publish can see exactly how many copies have been returned, they can compare rates and get a sense of whether they are seeing a lot of returns or a reasonable amount.

    As often happens, I think this is a problem that could be eliminated by more information. Frankly, if I really want to return a book, I am more than happy to provide a reason. And if someone returns one of my books, well, yeah, I am interested to know why.

  26. P. Kirby
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 15:54:03

    “I suspect how long the return period should be and whether they should be allowed at all is largely dependent on whether you sit on the reader or author side of the fence.”

    I straddle both sides, author and reader.

    People are always going to game the system. That doesn’t mean arbitrarily punishing everyone — read: your customers — because of a few assholes. I’ve only ever returned one book, electronic or print. It was the former, because the formatting made it impossible to read.

    For the most part, I’m too lazy to go to the effort of returns, even if the book reads like it was written by a rabid Capuchin monkey on Walter White’s finest stuff. But customers should be able to return a product within a reasonable time frame. Twenty-four hours isn’t necessarily “reasonable.”

    After my one encounter with a chewed-up file, I know to take a quick peek at my purchase, skim through and make sure it downloaded all right. But sometimes I get distracted and don’t get back to look at the book for days.

    I’ve been trying to make a living in the arts in some form or another for most of my life, so I understand my fellow authors’ distress with returns. At the same time, I run a small business — also in the arts — and recognize that in retail, returns are a cost of doing business.

  27. Mzcue
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 16:38:25

    Some years ago a photography forum member complained bitterly that Amazon had discontinued his membership and banned him from future purchases. Turned out that he’d been in the habit of ordering two and three different models of cameras at a time, then choosing which one to keep while returning the rest. He thought that it was perfectly legitimate. The difficulty Amazon faced in trying to resell the merchandise didn’t phase him at all. Since Amazon could recognize a bad buyer in that case, can they not curtail the misbehavior of serial book returners?

    It strikes me that a customer who games the system once or twice will have only limited impact on either the author or Amazon itself. Repeat offenders ought to be identifiable and excomunicatable. If any single author receives a markedly higher than average number of returns, I would think that it would be time to review the product. Ebook returns seem less threatening to authors than plagiarists in the long run.

    In the spirit of self-disclosure, I’ve returned fewer than one book in a hundred, and those for egregious editing errors that were not immediately apparent in the portion available for review before purchase. I also tried once to cancel a preorder from Amazon when I discovered that the ebook was subsequently offered at a lower price. Turned out to be unnecessary because I was charged the lower price anyway.

  28. Carolyne
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 16:45:04

    @Caroline: Amazon asks for a reason for a return, multiple choice, and I don’t think the “other” option lets you explain. …Wait a minute, I’m online–I can look it up. Which I have just done. The list looks much longer than I remember it being:

    Wrong item
    Found a better price
    Quality issues
    Compatibility issues
    Download problems
    Defective content
    Unwanted purchase
    Digital rights restriction
    Accidental purchase
    Offensive content

    Hopefully there is/will be a way for them to share the feedback with authors.

  29. Lindsay
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 16:45:16

    I’ve only returned a couple of e-books, and in each case it was because the content didn’t match the sample or blurb — one was supposed to be a humour book which was full of horribly racist jokes that didn’t start until just past the sample. The second had severe formatting issues and typos that didn’t exist in the physical book, likely as a result of someone just scanning the physical book and uploading it unproofed, and pretty much every paragraph had a completely unintelligible sentence in it!

    I really liked having the option to return, and in both cases these were within 24 hours of buying, but could easily have sat for a week or more on my TBR list. I’ve also accidentally bought a book and immediately returned it back on my old Kindle Keyboard and I LOVE that feature, since there’s no confirmation otherwise if your finger slips.

    If someone is a serial returner, Amazon does not allow them to make further returns. That’s true in their physical goods, their marketplace, and ebook realms — it’s not like they don’t have the metrics and aren’t constantly mining them.

  30. JenM
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 17:22:41

    I suspect that many of the authors that are complaining are unaware of the fact that Amazon polices peoples’ ebook accounts and will cut off a person’s account if they return too many (the cutoff used to be 30 or so, but I don’t know the current parameters). Due to the one-click system, it’s very easy to accidentally buy a book when you meant to get a sample. After doing that a few times, I learned to be more careful, but darned if I didn’t just recently do it again. On the other hand, one-click and the accompanying liberal return policy is the reason so many of us have bought far more books then we can ever realistically hope to read, so the authors are cutting off their nose to spite their face if they complain about the fact that Amazon makes it so easy to return things.

    I also think that many self-pubbed authors are unaware of the fact that physical book returns to the publisher typically run anywhere from 30-50% of a print run and are one of the reasons why print books cost so much. I have to laugh over the fact that the authors have the nerve to complain about a 5% or so return rate. This just shows total ignorance of conventional publishing, and indeed of retail sales in general.

  31. Ros
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 17:38:46

    @JenM: The 30% to 50% is a return to wholesales from bookstores, though. Most of those books will never have been sold to the public. It’s a different issue.

  32. Mzcue
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 19:35:56


    Due to the one-click system, it’s very easy to accidentally buy a book when you meant to get a sample. After doing that a few times, I learned to be more careful, but darned if I didn’t just recently do it again.

    Yes, you reminded me that I’ve made a similar mistake any number of times. I unintentionally bought print copies of books, returning them immediately to purchase the Kindle versions. If those count toward the 30-return allotment, I’m going to be in trouble. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Amazon is sophisticated enough to waive those.

  33. Rue
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 20:07:57

    I know I’ve bought -as in paid for, not freebies- about 500+ books since I got a kindle 3 years ago. I think I’ve returned about a dozen books in that time. And it tends to split between three things as to why.
    1. Poor quality -bad formatting, typos and such. I remember one, the whole book was full of not even typos just wrong words “hit on the ‘crab’ of her head” instead of the ‘crown’ that book went straight back, I shouldn’t have to decipher what word you meant to use. And frequently the problems start after the sample ends so reading that doesn’t help.
    2. Accidental click- Especially in the beginning, I’d hit buy instead of sample. I still wish those buttons were a little further apart.
    3. Whoops turns out I have this book already from a different retailer. I look at so many reviews and read so many samples, lots of books I don’t have sound really familiar and every once in a while -especially if a price drops- I’ll snatch up something I already bought from somewhere else. And then the sinking feeling sets in and I realize I have it already. That yellow banner isn’t much help if I got the book from another site. I used to do this with print books too, I’ve got plenty of paper duplicates but they can be returned or passed along to someone else or sold to a used bookstore. Ebooks have no resale value and can’t be given to a friend so I’d rather return it than waste the cost and the book because I was absent minded for 30 seconds while near the one click button.

    I’ve bought way more books than I have ever returned and part of why I picked Amazon and Kindle was the return policy. It’s a safety net. Every once in a while I make a mistake and it keeps me from getting burned. If that went away I’d probably buy a lot less because not being able to return an accidental or just plain bad purchase will force me to be a lot pickier of what I do choose to buy.

  34. Carolyn Jewel
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 21:45:01

    I suspect how long the return period should be and whether they should be allowed at all is largely dependent on whether you sit on the reader or author side of the fence.

    While I suspect that may be largely true, it’s also not entirely true. I am an author and I am emphatically against changes that make it harder to return an ebook. I think it should be easy. I think a liberal return policy makes a reader more willing to take a chance on a book (and more willing to return to that vendor for subsequent purchases, too.)

    Amazon, and other vendors, are perfectly capable of identifying accounts that show a pattern of buy and return that is far outside the norm.

    As an author, I emphatically do not want readers to be treated as if they buy books with the intent to defraud authors. (I am trying so hard not to turn on my caps lock. It’s hurting me.)

    I disagree completely with attempts to institute an ecosystem designed around the idea that it’s better to prevent 1 pirated/returned book than it is to make 10 sales.

  35. Anne
    Nov 19, 2013 @ 04:25:36

    I just returned a book today, actually. I had pre-ordered Jaci Burton’s Holiday Games. And since Amazon had issued two versions of the Kindle book, I had pre-ordered it twice. (I try to be vary of these type of situations after having had it happen to me once before, but sometimes it slips.)

    Once I received them today, one was 4 dollars and the other one was 2 dollars. Not a huge sum in total, but I returned one of them.

    This was before I had read any of them, though.

  36. Caroline
    Nov 19, 2013 @ 12:21:06

    @Carolyne: Yeah, authors get nothing. Some of those choices have nothing to do with the book (Accidental purchase) but some of them are things that could be fixed, presumably leading to fewer returns in the future.

  37. Dale
    Nov 20, 2013 @ 13:33:07

    @Arethusa: Maybe I’m a jerk, but I’ve asked for and received refunds at the cinema. I’m the sort of person who will choose to see a movie spur of the moment, picking from what poster outside the theater is the most appealing. Occasionally a film turns out to be far from what I imagined — too violent, crude, or whatever for my tastes, and I’ll walk out once I can’t stand it anymore. In one instance, I made it to the very end and the last scene was so disturbing it still troubles me. I’ve only asked for a refund a few times, but the cinemas have always provided me one without any hassle whatsoever, even for the movie I finished.

    If some authors are using cinema tickets as an analogy for why readers shouldn’t expect refunds, it’s a poor one.

  38. Mzcue
    Nov 20, 2013 @ 14:20:32

    I just did what I should have done before posting my first comment on the article above about returning ebooks, and went to read the piece on which it was based. It’s interesting to note that there’s absolutely no mention of reasons for returning books other than “to score free reads.” No consideration of formatting problems, duplicate orders, clicking mistakes, or quality issues.

    The article goes on to quote angry authors who complain that returning an ebook is the same as “allowing customers to “return” a restaurant meal they had already eaten.” Since I seldom buy books I’d be uninterested in reading more than once, that analogy doesn’t work for me. (Indeed, I have had restaurant meals stay with me uncomfortably long after dinner was over, but that’s a different matter. Generally one doesn’t feel well enough to try to collect the refund anyway.)

    Personally, I love almost everything about ebooks, with the single objection that I can’t give them away or sell them when I’m done. The latter is more of a gripe with text books, and is a whole other way that consumers have been bamboozled in the digital age.

    On the whole, I’d be interested to know the scale of the problem before I sympathized with any petition like the one mentioned in the Paste article. Apparently it was circulated via, to change Amazon’s return policy, and drew 5,600 signatures.

    As Carolyn Jewel noted above, being able to return ebooks is good for both readers and authors. I’m certainly more inclined to take chances on buying books if I know that I’m protected from being ripped off as a customer with a shoddy or unusable product. And apparently Amazon does attempt to weed out abusive returners. According to the Paste article:

    Nate Hoffelder of the Digital Reader blog suggested Amazon monitors e-book return abusers. He wrote that Amazon banned a frequent, e-book returning friend of his from further refunds in 2009.

  39. Lori Toland
    Nov 23, 2013 @ 18:49:51

    Here are my feelings on the whole eBook return.

    If I discount my book and you purchased it within the last week at a higher price, please return it! I try to warn my fans if I plan to do a price drop, because I don’t randomly wake up and say oh I’m going to put my book on sale today.

    As far as returning it after you read it, I have very mixed feelings on that. Unless there is something wrong with the book like formatting or misrepresentation (such as being labeled a romance and it’s a Sci-fi) then I believe if you read all of it, you shouldn’t return it. Check it out at the library. Most have ebooks these days.

    But if you read 25-50% of it and go I hate this book, return it! No hard feelings on my part AT ALL. Past that I think you have to have a good justification to return it.

    Saying all that, my return percentage in self pub is less than 2%. And usually most of them come when I drop the price, which I welcome. I want a good deal too.

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