Amazon: Authors denounce Kindle return policy

Because e-book buyers on Amazon returned completely read books, author L. Kessler owed the platform money at the end of the month

Along with numerous other authors, Lissa Kessler of Amazon in a petition calls for a change in the Kindle return policy. With her Twitter tweet from early June, the author reminded her readers that Amazon is not a library. She even stated that she owed Amazon money because e-book buyers returned e-books they had already read. Kessler thus triggered a controversial debate. With so far 20.938 Retweeted and 76.041 “Likes” the tweet went viral. This was reported by Scoop Upworthy.

Indie writer Lissa Kessler made the online conversation by opening up about owing money to Amazon at the end of the month. The author has been writing for 10 years and has published in the genres of paranormal romance and thriller. She won a San Diego Book Award for Best Fantasy Sci-Fi Horror for her debut novel Night Walker.

Kindle return policy abuse responsible for lost money

According to Amazon’s Kindle return policy, e-book buyers can “cancel an accidental book order within seven days”. While accidental purchases can happen, several authors indicated that more book lovers are now reading a book in its entirety before returning it to Amazon. Customers get their money back, but authors are charged a fee by Amazon for doing so. Lissa Kessler clarified in an interview with BuzzFeed:

“When an eBook is returned, the royalties will be refunded deducted from the sale from the author’s Amazon account. But that’s not the only prize for authors. There is also a digital delivery fee that Amazon charges the author and we do not get this back when a book is returned.”

Amazon Return trend attributed to TikTok post?

According to Lissa Kessler, readers of her e-books returned them after reading them. For her, this meant that she had to pay for the return out of her own pocket. Other authors chimed in with their own experiences. The author K. Bromberg pointed out, for example, that this new trend is probably due to TikTok. Specifically, the TikTok book community met on BookTok.

Opinions appeared there that pointed out: “It’s okay to return e-books”. Discussions centered on whether returning a book that had been read constituted theft or not. Is it wrong to read a novel, dislike it and return it? Or whether certain e-book enthusiasts will take advantage of this Kindle return policy and see a library on Amazon. Opinions about this also differed on TikTok.

Lissa Kessler also agreed on the origin of her problem. In the interview, she further elaborated:

“I discovered that in March there will be a TikTok video notifying readers of this loophole in Amazon’s returns policy so they can read and return books quickly. It even had a hashtag, #ReadAndReturnChallenge, but I don’t think they knew that Amazon is flipping it and taking money from the authors.”

The authors claim that readers are abusing the Kindle return policy by reading the book in its entirety in those seven days and then returning it. Kessler shared that she’s heard from hundreds of writers affected by this TikTok trend:

“In May, many saw this wave of returns. One had over 250 e-book returns in May alone. This is devastating for an indie author who pays up front for book covers and editing and hopes the royalties will cover all of his expenses.”

Petition is supposed to bring about changes

As a conclusion, Lissa Kessler opened a petition asking Amazon to ban customers from returning e-books they’ve already read. In an appeal, the signatories express their displeasure. Already 57.546 authors have already signed:

“There is a tremendous upsurge in ebooks from authors submitting to Amazon be returned AFTER they have been read. As a reader, this is VERY annoying. Yes, Amazon’s return policy allows this. But that doesn’t make it right. If you have read the book, you have consumed the product. Returning a book after 10-20% is one thing. But once you’ve read the book in its entirety, you shouldn’t be allowed to return it. end of discussion. An author had triple-digit returns in March! The same author had single digit returns in the previous TWO months combined. The authors are not properly paid for their art. Please, Amazon, change your policy!”

Amazon officials responded back in June on the problem. In a statement, they stated:

“Amazon is committed to providing customers and writers with the best possible experience offer… We have policies and mechanisms in place to prevent abuse of our e-book return policy. We always listen to feedback and address any concerns we receive.”

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