If you are not following the Amazon Kindle news closely – or spending too much time on BookTok, the TikTok reading community – you may not be aware of the ongoing drama of ebook returns. But now it has prompted Amazon to change the way it handles its digital books.
The trend of TikTok urged readers to read quickly and then return the e-books to their Kindle, and the auto-refund program gives them a full refund, even if they’ve read the entire book.
It didn’t hurt Amazon as readers were likely expecting, and the action actually went out of the authors’ pockets as they were the ones who had to pay for the refund. Many e-book authors make statements criticizing the action and it sounds as if Amazon is listening (see testimony on Twitter here (opens in a new tab)and here (opens in a new tab)and change.org petition (opens in a new tab) about it here).
1/2 Whenever you return an e-book to Amazon, the author is charged a refund of the amount higher than what was paid for the sale. Yes, that means we could owe Amazon at the end of the month. Since TikToks has become popular saying “e-books can be returned”June 3, 2022
In post by the Authors’ Guild (opens in a new tab), a US-based organization dedicated to protecting the rights of authors, confirmed Amazon’s e-book return policy is changing. From the end of the year, it won’t be possible to automatically return e-books if you read more than 10% of them.
Moving on, if you’ve read 11% or more of the book, you can still apply for a refund, but it will be reviewed by an individual, and the Authors’ Guild says this will act as a reasonable deterrent to gaming. system.
There are a few more things to explain – collections of poems or short stories that you can jump around may mark you as over 10% read if, for example, you only read one passage halfway, and that doesn’t explain how easy it will be to get a refund via of this manual system. But this is a step in the right direction.
Analysis: good or bad for readers?
For some books, 10% is a ton of pages – if (for some reason) you’re reading Edward Gibbon’s Story of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, it’s already over 500 pages. But in the case of short stories or shorter texts, the difference between 10% and 11% could be an accidental page turn.
This new change is undoubtedly good for authors and means opportunistic and unfaithful readers will no longer be able to cheat the system in order to get free reading without spending money. Now more authors will be able to rely on their writing to make a living, which is great news for literature.
However, it’s not so good news for standard readers who can really get about 15% of their way into the book before they realize it’s just not for them and want their money back.
Of course, it’s the readers who took mickey that we have to blame for this change, and the trend of TikTok (and other users who have done the same – we can’t just blame this one community of readers) is likely to change that. Amazon’s little quirk of return policy into a bigger problem.
This update may impact the way some people read books, making them much more wary of the percentage of progress in books (which is displayed on Kindle readers) than otherwise, in order to decide if they will make progress above 10% or not. But if that means the authors can keep writing, then maybe it’s a positive thing.