Amazon Tells The Authors Guild It’s Going to Restrict Ebook Returns

Amazon’s generous ebook returns policy is set to be curbed significantly, according to The Authors Guild and Society of Authors(Opens in a new window) (SoA).

In what the Guild deems a “major breakthrough for authors(Opens in a new window),” recent discussions with Amazon’s senior executive team resulted in an agreement to change the ebook returns policy. The current policy allows an ebook to be returned for up to 14 days after purchase for a full refund regardless of how much of it has been read by the customer. However, automatic returns are going to be restricted before the end of 2022, “to purchases where no more than 10 percent of the book has been read.” The policy change will extend to ebooks read on a Kindle, other ereaders, smartphones, and computers.

It will still be possible to return an ebook if more than 10% has been read, but that will require some extra work on the part of the customer and the refund may ultimately be denied. They will need to file a customer service request and then wait for an Amazon representative to “ensure the return request is genuine” and no abuse occurred under Amazon’s policies.

The Authors Guild, and its UK counterpart the SoA, believes this change will stop customers purchasing an ebook, reading it in a week, and then returning it for a full refund (a practice being encouraged on TikTok(Opens in a new window) earlier this year). Such behavior means the author receives no royalty for the purchase even though the customer enjoyed the book in its entirety, which is obviously unfair. It could also negatively impact the production of future books by an author as those refunds will not be counted as sales when determining the popularity of a book by a publisher.

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Amazon has yet to confirm this returns policy change publicly, but David Naggar, Amazon’s Vice President of Books & Kindle Content, sent an email to The Authors Guild and SoA stating, “we do hear all you have said over the course of our conversations on this topic and are planning to make meaningful changes … Most notably, we will de-activate self-service returns for any book read past 10%, adding substantial friction to the process.” The Authors Guild says it’s “grateful to Amazon’s team for listening to our concerns and taking good faith action.”

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