Sunday, March 31, 2013

E-books and the abuse of return policies

Happy Easter.

Now, back to business.

Apparently, authors are reporting a serious increase in e-book returns on Amazon, and also that readers are boasting in forums and on groups about buying e-books, reading them, and then returning them for a full refund.

Authors who do business on Amazon are already very generous with their low prices, willingness to post sample chapters, give-aways of free e-books, and consent to lending and account-sharing.

Please consider signing the petition and/or leaving a comment with your suggestions for a more fair policy, and encourage friends, family and colleagues to share the petition.

1 comment:

  1. Personally, I'm not interested in signing the petition. I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with me and signing; I just won't be.


    I'm not convinced there's anything wrong with the current policy. You can return physical items, if you're dissatisfied with the end result. Remember when Breaking Dawn came out? Some folks bought the book, read it, and returned it in outrage.

    Fact is, some readers have always taken advantage of return policies. Now more of them are jumping into e-book land. E-books are also easier to return. I don't see those items as sufficient reason to penalize those who want to return e-books for legitimate reasons.

    And you can bet Amazon keeps track of the policy abusers. I've heard of them cracking down on such people, too.

    Now, to be clear: I've never returned an e-book. I've considered doing so, but so far, everything I've been that dissatisfied with has been cheap, so I decided that my low review would be a sufficient slap in the face for the author.

    And that's just for the e-books I buy that accept returns. My preferred vendor, Smashwords, doesn't accept returns, but that's not why I prefer them. I just don't consider the inability to return an e-book enough of a detriment to overcome what I like about them.

    I'm also a self-published author, with most of my sales in e-book form. One of my pennames is dark fantasy. I do my best to give fair warning, and the worst things happen near the beginning, but I don't think it's a coincidence that that penname has a higher return rate than my others.

    So I have a leg in this race, and I'm not worried about the returns. Policies will always be abused.

    Even the suggested change is imperfect. Someone could download the e-book, make a copy, read it as an imported (not-Amazon) file, then return the Amazon file, because it wouldn't show up as read.

    If you think that sounds too complicated for people to do, macros could easily handle a good portion of it. Also consider how a lot of people know how to strip DRM off their files (and a fair number do so just because they don't want to get locked out of their own files).

    Again—sign the petition if you truly think it'll help solve a problem. I just wanted to point out why some of us are unconcerned and not signing.