Amazon Makes Returning Kindle eBooks Easy

According to a story posted on Mediabistro’s Galleycat blog, Amazon is now accepting Kindle e-book returns within seven days of purchase.

Unlike Barnes & Noble and Sony, who won’t accept returns, Amazon makes it easy. You can request a return and refund by visiting the Manage Your Kindle section of Amazon’s website, clicking the Actions tab for the e-book title, and then selecting “Return for refund.”

So go ahead and order your third copy of Fifty Shades of Grey; you can always return it when you come to your senses.

25 Comments on Amazon Makes Returning Kindle eBooks Easy

  1. “…Amazon is now accepting Kindle e-book returns within seven days of purchase.”

    Amazon has ALWAYs accepted e-book returns within seven days of purchase. It has been that way since 2007 when the first Kindle came out.

    They will also refund your money if you purchase a book that is badly formatted. (You have the choice of an instant refund or you can keep the book and they will notify you when it has been corrected so you can download a new copy at no cost.)

  2. Excuse me, but this is NOT news. Amazon has ALWAYS accepted ebook returns within 7 days, from the very beginning (November 2007)!!

    AND, this has never been the policy at B & N!

    Another eason why Amazon’s customer service, ESPECIALLY for the kindle, has always been the best.

  3. B&N accepts returns for badly formatted books, or when something is wrong with a book. They usually do not accept returns just because you bought the wrong book, or bought a book by accident.

  4. As usual, Amazon is well ahead of the pack in the features it offers.

    But we should keep in mind that it’s probably the publisher/author who bears the greatest financial burden in these returns. Does Amazon still pay them for ebooks that are returned? I doubt that. Is it like the print world, where the publisher/author determines if returns are permissible? Not likely.

    These are the facts:

    * Amazon’s only expense with these returns is the minuscule cost of the file download and it gets all the customer good will.

    * On the other hand, given that quite a few books can be read in seven days, the author is out his entire income for that ebook. Yet he gets no customer good will for his many works of labor. Not very fair.

    That said, I have gotten books and ebooks from Amazon that were so poorly written (and not just badly formatted), that a return with the author getting nothing would be well justified. There are sleazes out there who’re taking full advantage of the ‘buy before you see’ aspect of online sales and gaming Amazon’s reviewing system with planted reviews.

  5. Michael – no offence but you have completely contradictory statements here.

    “But we should keep in mind that it’s probably the publisher/author who bears the greatest financial burden in these returns. Does Amazon still pay them for ebooks that are returned? I doubt that.”

    So you don’t know. Can we find out ? This is a critical question … because ….

    “These are the facts:” ….

    Well are they the facts ? because we still don’t know the facts about your first question.

    I agree about Amazon being ahead of the pack. That is because they put customers first. fair play to them.

  6. Amazon is simply the best company to buy ebooks from. Apple, Sony, Kobo, et al. suck big time. Amazon lets you buy with full confidence that you can return an ebook that doesn’t meet expectations, no questions asked. That is why they are so successful. They encourage consumer confidence which then results in more sales. Simple as that.

  7. Some publishers allow for ebook refunds and some do not. Therefore, some retailers will refund your purchase and some will not. Exception occur. Amazon and Google allow refunds within 7 days (I believe). They absorb the loss if it is from a non-refunding publisher. This explain why both retailers will take action against those who abuse the system.

  8. Howard and Michael, authors do take the loss when a book is returned. I’ve had a few returned and there are frequent stories on Kindleboards about returns that seem to be part of a pattern of reading, then asking for a refund. As a reader, I’m grateful when I can get a refund for a badly formatted book (and that’s the only reason I’ve asked for one), but as an author, it can suck.

  9. When I was a boy there were times when a new book came out from one of my favorite authors that I just HAD to read but couldn’t afford. So I’d read the entire thing standing in a corner of the bookstore. So I’m sure some people will certainly buy books, read them and then return them. Especially since a great number of the best selling “novels” these days could really be called novellas or novelettes.

    Amazon as always is attempting to be customer friendly. But I wouldn’t worry too much about the people who try to abuse this policy. Amazon tracks all returns and if you return too much they will cut you off or close your account even when it comes to physical goods. In this case I’d expect them to only allow an occasional return of an ebook or only allow you to return a certain percentage of what you buy.

    Even as an author you should see that readers are more likely to make purchases if they feel they can return an ebook once in awhile that is badly made or does not meet their expectations.

  10. Here’s another way to look at this issue.

    Authors and publishers are constantly pushing the notion these days that you don’t actually own digital items that you buy. Instead you are just buying a license to read the content on specific devices.

    Licenses have terms that cut both ways. In the case of a returned ebook you aren’t really returning an item. You are just cancelling a license agreement because you consider that the other party has not lived up to the terms or because you are taking advantage of an opt out period.

    Puts a different light on things.

  11. ” Amazon tracks all returns and if you return too much they will cut you off or close your account even when it comes to physical goods. In this case I’d expect them to only allow an occasional return of an ebook or only allow you to return a certain percentage of what you buy.

    “Even as an author you should see that readers are more likely to make purchases if they feel they can return an ebook once in awhile that is badly made or does not meet their expectations.”

    Binko, I’m sure you think that should be comforting, but many of us are small sellers, and to see books returned can be very discouraging. Whatever limits Amazon places on individual buyers returning books doesn’t help the writer much when a lot of people are doing it. Some authors have discussed their statistics, and there are just too many returns to be accounted for by hitting the buy button accidently or claiming the formatting is bad. And certain genres suffer from returns much more than others, so there is definitely a pattern.

  12. Yes, Amazon deducts returns from the royalties of self-published authors.

    For my books, it’s been a minuscule amount (well under 1%), so it’s a minor annoyance, not a huge issue.

    As others have said, I believe Amazon will deal with those who abuse the system.

    As a reader, it should be comforting to know you can return a book that is terribly formatted or is not what it was represented to be.

  13. I sis not know it was 7 days, but I have, in the past, clicked the BUY instead of the SEND SAMPLE button and turned the item within 2 minutes of the purchase. That happened maybe twice in the past year.

    The only time I returned an item because it was so bad I could not stand it was last week, and, indeed, it was the Fifty Shades trilogy. I had read the sample, and was on the wrong track on where the story was going, but once the sadism started I decided to try and return it, and, to my surprise, I could.
    This is not diffent than returning a book at a regular book store. I think it’s possible (?), but most people would not read a book and then return it, because it would be wrong.

  14. Brian / AnemicOak // August 16, 2012 at 8:51 am //

    As a reader I’ve returned books three times (in the past 6 years or so) and every time it was due to formatting issues. These were all books from big six publishers.

  15. Binko – well said. A very salient comment on the licensing con being perpetrated on customers.
    I find the complaints by authors to be unconvincing and weak. If they had been selling paper books, unsold books would be returned and deducted from royalties. Returns to Amazon are either because they have supplied a sub standard formatting job, people ordered and changed their minds, or mistakenly ordered. And this stuff bout ‘pattern’ … well it’s not even worth commenting on.
    I buy stuff from Argos regularly in my city. I can bring back ANY items and get my money back if I feel it didn’t suit me or isn’t what was advertised. As a result I feel more relaxed about buying items and chose them to shop in rather than those that don’t. The same with many clothing chains.
    Authors need to cop on to treating customers properly instead of appearing as money grubbing.

  16. “Authors need to cop on to treating customers properly instead of appearing as money grubbing.”

    As usual, you’re sounding off about something you know absolutely nothing about. Please explain to me how putting your edited and properly formatted books up for sale, only to have them returned, is money-grubbing. Some of us are doing our best to build reputations as writers to be taken seriously. Any interaction between us and our customers takes place long before our books appear on Amazon. One they’re up, we have absolutely no control over what happens. It’s very easy for you to dismiss the fact that patterns are developing in requests for refunds because you’re not even interested enough to read about what’s going on behind the scenes. Just brush it all off because authors are probably all crooks and incompetents anyway.

  17. Reading the comments on this blog for the last several days, I am starting to see a pattern from what I hope are just a vocal minority of self-published authors that seem to regard their reading public as little more than thieves and con artists. It is beginning to turn me off from self-published work, even though I do believe that this view is not representative of everyone. It is just becoming so repetitive and a huge turn-off.

    I have heard a chorus of authors on numerous posts crying, “Why should I work so hard when my fans just steal my work and I don’t make anything from it?” and it is getting really old.

    Pirates ARE stealing your work, but they would never have bought it anyway. If you are counting on getting their money to succeed, you never will, because they will never actually buy it. Those who buy and return books are not speed reading them and returning them to pull a fast one on the authors they enjoy. Readers don’t want to steal from you, they want to appreciate you. I have never returned a single book and would only do so if the purchase were a legitimate mistake. But on the forums, the main reasons I hear for returning the books are bad formatting, mistake purchases, people fooled by the Prime Lending for $0.00 into thinking the book was free, and people who purchased the book only to see the price drop within the 7 day period of their purchase. These readers return the book, but they buy it right back.

    So if one gets a high numer of returns and are a part of the prime lending program, maybe that is confusing some buyers. Or if they experiment with pricing on their books, maybe that triggers returns (people are bargain shoppers, but that doesn’t make them criminal). Or maybe they have formatting issues that they are unaware of and they should re-read their own book themselves to make sure.

    If a true reader, one who probably has a library of hundreds of books on their Amazon account, buys your book – they are not going to try to pull a speed read and return scam to get it for free. They do that with any frequency and Amazon will catch on and Amazon will cancel their account, and they will lose access to their entire library of books they have actually paid for. It is simply not worth the risk.

    If any authors truly have such a high loss due to returns and the above reasons don’t account for them, they maybe should look more critically at what is being returned than make accusations about the readers who are their bread and butter but who will quickly bail on authors who make them feel like cheap thugs.

  18. Vonda – Really excellent post. I couldn’t agree more.

  19. Catana … how interesting and polite a post.

    “Please explain to me how putting your edited and properly formatted books up for sale, only to have them returned, is money-grubbing.”

    I am happy to. Writing a work of highly subjective value, and then offering it for sale to people who buy it in blind faith, and then winging and moaning and bitching when a tiny number of people return it is money grubbing, in my view.

    You say “you’re sounding off about something you know absolutely nothing about” and then “It’s very easy for you to dismiss the fact that patterns are developing in requests for refunds because you’re not even interested enough to read about what’s going on behind the scenes.”

    So … I don’t know what I’m talking about but you do … because ….. your ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge is telling you exactly why the titles are being returned ? really ? I am fascinated . Do tell please ……. then we can all share in the wisdom.

    And just so we’re clear .. and so that no one accuses us of “sounding off about something you know absolutely nothing about” … let’s have facts please … not conjecture, guesses, pretty patterns or supposition.

    “Any interaction between us and our customers takes place long before our books appear on Amazon”

    That’s quite a feat. But hey what do I know. I’m only a customer.

  20. I am amazed that everyone calls it speedreading. I usually get through a light book , being a easy read , bestseller type book in a day. This is not skipping pages but getting full enjoyment from each page. My sister reads a book faster than that . I have 4 children, work from home part time and rush around lifting etc. There must be a lot of others who read equally fast. I do think the return policy sounds a bit excessive. I never knew you could return a book just because you didn’t enjoy it. Is that ethical ?

  21. As a self-published author who has to deal with this, I do find it frustrating.

    Personally I go through a lot of pains to make sure my stories are perfect. I edit them multiple times, price them appropriately for what they are(short stories), and make my eBooks as nice as possible. I highly doubt I’ve ever had a return because of formatting issues, though if I did then I completely accept that and would be happy to accept their return. If this happened over and over again, constantly, I’d realize there was something wrong and fix it.

    As a short story writer(typically 10,000 words or 40 paperback book pages worth of story), I’m one of those who are most easily cheated/pirated, though. This is not a “personal” problem so much as an industry problem, since I know that a lot of other writers who I correspond with have similar issues. My eBooks can be read in the span of a couple of hours, and then easily returned within the 7 day period.

    And, it doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s very frustrating. When I have someone buy the first book of a series I’ve written, read it, return it, then buy the second, repeat, third, repeat, fourth, repeat, fifth, sixth, a side story…

    Do you really think they read through all those and thought it was because of formatting errors? And, the fact of the matter is, Amazon LETS them do this. Why is one person allowed to return -at least- 6 stories in the span of a couple hours? That is not good customer service, that is a huge middle finger to indie writers everywhere. Not that my one voice is going to stop anything, but if there’s a “cap” on returns and Amazon blocks people who have high return rates, it’s got to be really, excessively high, because returning 6 stories in one day is something that would set off red flags almost anywhere(except Amazon, apparently).

    Another interesting note is that this rarely happens anywhere but Amazon.com . Every other Amazon site has readers that are content with paying an author their dues, seemingly unless the story is not of a good quality or has formatting issues. Mostly, anyways.

  22. @cerys:
    I just did an Amazon search (this may or may not be you), and my first thought would be that users would not expect your $2.99 tiles to be short stories, and may realize their mistake in retropect. I know I would not expect something that cost $2.99 to only be 18 pages long, even though, granted, it does say how many pages your stories are. Have you tried adding “short story” to thet title and the description to make it clear to readers what to expect?
    I have seen other authors do it, which would eliminate these type of returns.

  23. PS: I just read an entire series (over 2000 pages) in the matter of a week, so the argument that short stories are returned more often because they are faster to read does not really hold. Anyone can read a good-sized novel in a week, or in a day if they are off from work.

  24. Authors who complain about Amazon’s liberal return policy might as well complain about having their books in a public library!

    Or about the fact that you can return a physical book you purchased at Barnes and Nobles within 14 days. (And unlike returning an ebook, the returned book may have signs of wear, or may have made the book unvailable on the store’s shelf for sale in the interim, if it was the last copy.)

    I would also suggest that people “abusing” the system (returning Kindle books they actually enjoyed) can still be beneficial to the author. They may still recommend it to friends, or leave a positive review.

    Here’s another possible benefit: Yes, authors want to be paid, but they also want their work to actually be read. Sometimes people may buy a book, thinking they intend to read it soon, but it turns into one they will “get around to” at some point, and they may never read it. I’m sure some authors don’t care, they got paid either way. But for those author’s who take pleasure form knowing people are actually reading their work, this return policy may provide an extra incentive to make sure someone starts reading it within 7 days. (Hopefully, it is a real page-turner and they read the whole thing.) Now not only are you more assured that your book has been read (or at least part of it), but by helping to assure that that the book doesn’t merely sit on the virtual shelf, there is an increased chance that the book will be recommended to others and/or have a review left. So besides the satisfaction of perhaps more likely having your work read, there is even still some possible financial benefit here as well, when the policy helps assure that the book does not sit on the device ignored.

    I’d also suggest that KNOWING that a book can be returned within 7 days may encourage more people to make the purchase in the first place, and if the book is good and the book is kept, these are sales you may not have gotten otherwise.

  25. Frustrated Author // December 29, 2012 at 3:15 pm //

    As an author, I am disapointed in several of the negative comments I have seen on this post regarding the theivery of something we, as artists, have worked so hard to complete. Sure, some of the returns are due to mistakenly buying ebooks or starting in on one and not finding it your cup of tea. I understand that, accept it, and agree with one’s right to return a book based on that criteria. What I do not agree with is the people who buy an ebook, read the entire thing, and then return it. They are stealing. Period. How would they like it if I took part of their paycheck from them?

    Recently I have had one of each of my books bought and then returned within a couple days. All 11 of them. The two series I wrote were bought and returned IN ORDER. It is obvious what happened there. Yes, I want people to read my books. But I have to make money from them in order to make enough money to do it for a living. I can’t give them away. So saying I should just be happy someone read my books doesn’t fly with me. And saying these people will spread the good word about my books, come on, give me a break. They are theives. I don’t think I can really count on them for much of anything but stealing.

    Just because I love writing doesn’t mean it is not a business and I shouldn’t make money doing it.

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