You read that title right. I’ve been seeing talks of this more and more from fellow indie authors on instagram, tiktok, blogs, and twitter. Among us authors, this argument doesn’t seem very controversial, but when you add in the readers who see nothing wrong with this…well, let’s just say things are getting heated. And that’s why I’m here with my two cents.
I haven’t had any personal experience with this problem. At least, not that I know of considering I don’t monitor my sales enough and writing (even though I wish) currently isn’t my full time job. But, I definitely feel for the author on this one.
So, there’s an issue going around where readers are buying books online off major platforms like Amazon, reading the entire book, and then requesting to return it for a full refund simply because they didn’t like it. Amazon is one of the retailers that generally always sides with the customer and refunds the money by taking those royalties away from the author. And if you’re not the author, you may think this is fair, but in truth, it’s not.
There are people out there that use this method all the time. They’re virtually consuming a product and then returning it. This isn’t a library. This is a transaction of goods that puts money in the author’s hands and then takes it away. I mean…they have services for this exact situation if you don’t want to physically pay for a book to read and I’ve already mentioned it above. A library.
For indie authors who write full time and is their only source of income, this could be financially devastating for those individuals. So while I’m all for picking up the book at the library and returning it later, knowingly going on Amazon to order a book just to request a refund after reading it is kind of absurd.
Every time someone purchases a book, you’re taking a gamble on it. You get a paragraph or two telling you what to expect and that’s about it. It’s been that way for forever. If you didn’t like the book you can always keep it, donate it, or even sell it to a thrift store. Most people don’t pay to go see a movie at the theater and then demand a refund at the end because they didn’t like the movie. It’s the same concept with books.
Now, if you received a damaged book, an unreadable copy, or skimmed the first couple of pages and decided the writing style wasn’t for you – that’s different. And those whose situations apply to these types of exchanges or refunds don’t have to worry about any backlash from any authors anytime soon.
But those buyers who are a high risk to the author need to have a stern talking to because not only does it take all the royalties away but some are charged extra fees for refunded purchases. There are so many exceptions to who my fellow authors are referring to in their argument, so I can see why some readers might take offense to being lumped in with these kinds of book
stealers readers. However, just know that if you’re not the type of reader who does this kind of thing, we thank you from the bottom of our book-loving hearts.