E-Book Return Hacking Comes at a High Price, Says Author

A loophole in Amazon’s return policy is costing some authors a pretty penny, after trending on social media.

The TikTok trend drew attention to Amazon’s Kindle return policy and encourages people to read and return e-books within the appropriate window to get their money back.

“Individuals buy books, read them and return them within two weeks,” freelance author Trevor Wiltzen told CBC Edmonton. Active Radio.

“So what’s happening is they’re treating Amazon like a library.”

Wiltzen is the author of the Mabel Davison mystery series and is self-published on Amazon. He said he noticed a change in his sales recently.

In Canada and the United States, customers have seven days to cancel a Kindle book order and get a full refund, whether the book has been read or not. In other countries, customers have up to 14 days. The policy includes audiobooks.

But the trend has hurt independent and self-published authors, Wiltzen said.

“They think Amazon is a big conglomerate, but Amazon got big that way by lowering its risk and shifting that risk to the artist,” Wiltzen said.

If an author chooses to self-publish on Amazon, depending on the format of the book, they can get anywhere from 30-75% royalties.

With every book return, even on digital copies, authors forfeit royalties and shipping costs.

Authors must also pay download fees for Amazon. Costs are not refunded to the author if their book is returned.

Wiltzen said he originally chose Amazon to self-publish because of its international audience.

“I have 17,000 readers from as far away as India or the United Arab Emirates, or Europe or South America,” he said.

“The reach is fantastic for us to spread our works.”

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Active Radio6:06Return Books to Amazon

A fine print on Amazon notes that customers can receive a full refund on e-books within 14 days of purchase, even if the book has been read. Trevor Wiltzen is a writer in Edmonton.

And while Wiltzen credits Amazon with helping independent authors get published, he said authors need more support.

“As self-published authors, we need that revenue to keep going and publishing more books,” he said.

Book returns

Returning books isn’t a new trend, it’s something publishers have been dealing with for years.

“I don’t think it’s fair to read a book and then return it and hope to get your money back, because that basically means publishers and authors aren’t getting paid for their work,” said Kieran Leblanc , executive director of the Book Publishers Association. from Alberta.

Alexander Finbow, publisher at Renegade Arts Canmore Ltd., said the book returns highlight a flaw in the system.

Author Trevor Wiltzen says he has a large international following thanks to Amazon. (Trevor Wiltzen)

When booksellers are unable to sell books, they return them to the publisher. This system was introduced during the Great Depression and was a way to support bookstores.

“But in reality, it’s a system that can be and often is abused by the game’s greatest players, and there can be unintended consequences from some of the decisions involved,” Finbow said.

He said Amazon is a major player in the publishing industry and it can be difficult to get them to change their policies.

“It may take some of the really big authors and publishers to start pushing Amazon to change,” Finbow said.

Other digital services under Amazon, such as Amazon Prime and Amazon Music, do not have a return policy.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said “Amazon aims to provide the best possible experience for customers and authors. We have policies and mechanisms in place to prevent our eBook return policy from being violated. abusive. We always listen to feedback and will investigate any concerns we receive.”

Wiltzen encourages readers to support independent authors by promoting them through reviews or word of mouth.

Lola R. McClure