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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
"Returning Kindle Books

"Books you purchase from the Kindle Store are eligible for return and refund if we receive your request within seven days of the date of purchase. Once a refund is issued, you'll no longer have access to the book. To request a refund and return content, visit Manage Your Kindle, Click the Actions button next to the title you'd like to return, and select Return for refund, or contact customer service."

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This policy can appear understandable from Amazon's point of view, but it's incredibly unfair to writers of short stories and singles. Anyone can purchase a book of less than 20,000 words (which can easily be read within 7 days) and then simply return it for a full refund. The money is then lost and the book's ranking is also damaged.

I know that this is happening because I am selling hundreds of books each month and getting almost wholly great reviews on all my titles, yet I still see several refunds on my shorter books (but never on my longer ones). If people really didn't like the books I would have received negative reviews. Those are the easiest ones to get. Dissatisfied consumers are the ones most likely to leave reviews. I can also see that my longer books get plenty of borrows while the shorter ones never do.

I think the return window should be shortened and/or readers be allowed to borrow more than one book a month (since the return policy allows them to borrow in essence, with the key difference being that writers actually get paid for those). Of course it doesn't matter since we have no influence on Amazon the same way seller have no influence on eBay (which is now geared 100% toward the consumer to the detriment of long time users). I worry this trend will continue and hurt us more and more.

What do you think?
 

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a) I write short stories. I have only returns I can attribute to misclicked (no-longer)freebies.
b) I can read any book sold on Kindle in 7 days. ANY book. Find me one you think it too long to be possible, I bet you I can read it. George R.R. Martin's latest I FORCED myself to go slow, it lasted 10 days.

(My bet on why your shorts get returned? People think they are novels because they're too silly to pay attention. They're not reading and rejecting a short, they're rejecting that it's not a novel.)
 

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I write short stories exclusively.  I get occasional returns. I like their return policy.

I've used it myself for mistake 1-click orders. It's just so easy to do. I believe that is a significant chunk of returns.

Yes, some people will abuse it. Amazon can very clearly track serial returners and cracks down on them, eliminating their ability to return items or stripping them of their account entirely. They don't get away with it for long.

(Also, it's not really exclusive to short stories. Anyone determined to steal a novel can download the necessary software to quickly copy a novel within the 7 day period (try 10 minute period) and then return it and read it at their leisure.)
 

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Are there malicious returns? Of course there are. I've experienced them myself and they do cluster around shorter works and works of an erotic nature or at least works people think/hope are erotic.

But as long as Amazon maintains its "one-click-buy" system without even an "Are you really sure?" warning, an easy return system is important, simply because it is so easy to accidentally click the buy button. I've done it myself, and while I wouldn't return a 99 cent indie, I have returned a pricey trad pub book I bought by accident.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mathew Reuther said:
I can read any book sold on Kindle in 7 days. ANY book. Find me one you think it too long to be possible, I bet you I can read it. George R.R. Martin's latest I FORCED myself to go slow, it lasted 10 days.
Sure you could. Question is WOULD most people. Answer is no. A 5,000 worder on the other hand is a one day read for anyone.

BTW, how about the 1500 page War and Peace :)

(My bet on why your shorts get returned? People think they are novels because they're too silly to pay attention. They're not reading and rejecting a short, they're rejecting that it's not a novel.)
Yea that has been the case once that I know of. His review complained "this is not a full book it's short" -- guess he missed the product attributes where it said "Print Pages: 25". ::)
 

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ingrid avluv said:
Sure you could. Question is WOULD most people. Answer is no. A 5,000 worder on the other hand is a one day read for anyone.
ANyone who sets out with the intention of cheating the system will cheat it.

BTW, how about the 1500 page War and Peace :)
Had to in a week in school. So yes. Passed the exam I was reading it for, so I retained it. DO not have much love for Russian literature as a result, however.

Yea that has been the case once that I know of. His review complained "this is not a full book it's short" -- guess he missed the product attributes where it said "Print Pages: 25". ::)
That's a definite problem with shorts, particularly given that people price novels at 99c. (Ridiculous, but whatever.)
 

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Oh, people return full-length novels as well. I'd say at about the same rate as short stories.

It was much higher in January. Amazon has reduced the returns since February.

It stings a little, but remember they were never truly sales.
 

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This has been tossed around several times over the past few years and it always comes back to the same thing. Do people read and return? Sure. I'm positive that some do. I fact, I know they do. What some of you might not know is that Amazon flags this. If you return too many books to where they think it is excessive, they give you the boot. You have to keep in mind that Amazon is a business and people who spend and return aren't revenue neutral to them. It takes resources to process returns and that's not something they like to do. I've read of several readers who had their accounts closed and an indefinite ban placed. Doesn't your heart just bleed for them?  ::)

So more than likely, people are just accidentally purchasing and then returning. It does happen and with the touch screen, it's really easy to do.   
 

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ingrid avluv said:
BTW, how about the 1500 page War and Peace :)
I read War and Peace in three days, in the original Russian (my native language) back when I was a teen.

I actually know many people who can "swallow" two full-length novels a day. :)
 

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Anecdotal reports suggest that Amazon cracks down on people who abuse the returns system. I know I saw a reference to it on a previous thread here, so I Googled & found this Amazon forum thread where people are talking about it: http://www.amazon.com/forum/kindle?_encoding=UTF8&cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx255CUNAUZS03Z

I think that's encouraging. Sure, it doesn't mean that you'll never get a return from someone abusing the returns system to get a free read - but it does mean that there will be less of it.

It's really easy to accidentally one click buy on some tablets. Heck, when I was first testing out my son's Kindle Fire, the 'buy' button loaded under my thumb where I was holding the tablet and treated the presence of my thumb as a 'click'! Thankfully, it was a print book and more confirmation was required before purchase went through, but if that had been an ebook page, it would have been an instant accidental purchase.

If you don't already, then you may want to specify in your blurb that it's a short. Many readers never check the page count.
 

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As someone who currently only sells shorter works, I find this refund policy most jarring, and I even wrote to Amazon about it last month. I was shocked to find that the returns on the first in my erotica series had reached a whopping 30%, and the returns only started when I released the second book in the series. It got to a point where I knew that, once the first was bought and returned, I'd get a sale on the second one immediately after. Disgusting.

I think, in the beginning it was fair to say that many of the returns could have been attributed to accidental purchasing, but I don't think that's the case now. It's simply too easy to return a book on Amazon, and more and more people are going there for "free" books, not deterred by the fact that many of those books aren't actually free.

Edited to add: I specify the word count in ALL of my books, on all platforms.
 

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I don't think there is much we can do about this one, I think it very unlikely that Amazon would change their returns policy. It is costing them some money, but on the other hand it encourages people to use their website, and it is only the minority of jerks who return everything.

The only defense against this is to write longer works, or compile the short stories into a collection I think. Of course, writing good should also discourage most customers from returns the book or short due to guilt  ;). Not saying that you guys are writing bad, so don't take it that way, but it would be interesting to see the % of returns on highly ranked books vs. lower ones.

Anyone got any stats on their returns rate for differently ranked titles (i.e. 3 vs. 4 or 5 stars)?
 

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I agree, a number of Amazon.com's policies favor customers at the expense of Indie authors, and also of Amazon's sales. I recently sold 3 ebooks in the UK, and two were promptly returned. I checked and did not find any problem or reason for this.

Barnes and Noble has a zero return policy, I have a 48 hour return policy for ebooks bought from my website
In my opinion Amazon.com's policies overall favor customers, not suppliers. Perhaps that is why both Walmart and Target no longer carry Amazon.com products. They booted Amazon.com out. There has to be a good reason.

Phil Duke
 

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I know people who buy clothes they know they'll only wear one time, tuck in the tags, wear the outfit and return it the next day. The first time I heard of someone doing this (a lady I worked with many years ago), I was shocked. I've since met several people who think nothing of doing this. The thing is that none of these returners couldn't afford the clothes. They just didn't think they should have to pay for something they would only use once.



 

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Every time I hear of an author/publisher asking Amazon to stop the 7 day return policy, I feel compelled to send a letter to Amazon saying how much I, as a customer, appreciate it. :-\ If someone using my kindle actually buys something I don't want, I can return it easily. If I buy something and find that the formatting is screwy, I can return it easily. It isn't actually that hard to click 'buy' accidentally from a kindle or Fire; I've even done it from my computer when I meant to sample and just moused to the wrong button.

Amazon is the only eBook retailer that serves it's customers this way, and I applaud them for it. Buy a nook book by accident? Too bad, so sad, I hope it wasn't anything too expensive because there's no way to return it and you can't give it away to a friend -- as you could with a physical book. (Heck, you probably COULD return a physical book - why should an ebook be different? :() I've rarely had to take advantage of the policy at Amazon, but have been glad it was there the few times I did.

Mind you, I've no doubt there are less than honorable people who think nothing of finishing a book within a week and then returning it for a full refund. And, arguably, the odds of them finishing in a week is probably better with a short. But, as others have suggested, I am confident Amazon pays attention to such things and those folks risk their accounts being locked. And, as others have said, if this is their attitude, they'll do it no matter what.

I also understand there are a percentage of returns from people who buy it thinking it's a full length book and aren't happy it's a short. All you can really do, as the publisher, is be sure their expectations are set via the product description and then not get too upset if, as was also pointed out, they don't pay attention.

Finally, though I have no empirical data to back this up, I'm not convinced that the large majority of kindle owners are even fully aware of the policy. Members here notwithstanding, whenever I've been in conversation with kindle owners in the real world, and they mention having gotten a book by accident, I've told them about the 7 day return and they've always been surprised. They had no idea. This has happened to me several times. They ask me because they know I know kindle stuff. ::) They're readers and they're grateful I point this out since it means they now have back their $5 or $10 and can buy something else instead.
 

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Ann in Arlington said:
Finally, though I have no empirical data to back this up, I'm not convinced that the large majority of kindle owners are even fully aware of the policy. Members here notwithstanding, whenever I've been in conversation with kindle owners in the real world, and they mention having gotten a book by accident, I've told them about the 7 day return and they've always been surprised. They had no idea. This has happened to me several times. They as me because they know I know kindle stuff. ::) They're readers and they're grateful I point this out since it means they now have back their $5 or $10 and can buy something else instead.
I've had the same experience, Ann. If they didn't buy from their kindle, I don't think they have any way of knowing about the policy. Amazon doesn't post it in screaming letters and those buttons are darned close.

Seeing a sale and a return pop up at the same time tells me the book was bought by accident. Sometimes I'll see a borrow right after. Most times, it's just a return. Once, a book was returned on the first of the month and I started off at a negative one. :D

Returns are definitely annoying, but all retailers have to deal with them.
 

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Ann in Arlington said:
Every time I hear of an author/publisher asking Amazon to stop the 7 day return policy, I feel compelled to send a letter to Amazon saying how much I, as a customer, appreciate it. :-\ If someone using my kindle actually buys something I don't want, I can return it easily. If I buy something and find that the formatting is screwy, I can return it easily. It isn't actually that hard to click 'buy' accidentally from a kindle or Fire; I've even done it from my computer when I meant to sample and just moused to the wrong button.
I've done it. I've returned it. It was a book by a KB author.

Did I feel bad?

Mwah. Hugh can take it.

:)
 

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I get very few returns. Usually any returns for me follow a free period as the book reverts to paid.

Some don't pay attention, particularly when downloading free books.

Other usually follow two sales within the same time frame and I assume a miss click has occurred.

I have SHORT STORY in brackets for my Amazon title description, yet received a low star review saying, "I wasn't expecting a short story."

I'm sure there are many more reasons for returns, but that about says it all for me.
 

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Decon said:
I get very few returns. Usually any returns for me follow a free period as the book reverts to paid.

Some don't pay attention, particularly when downloading free books.

Other usually follow two sales within the same time frame and I assume a miss click has occurred.

I have SHORT STORY in brackets for my Amazon title description, yet received a low star review saying, "I wasn't expecting a short story."

I'm sure there are many more reasons for returns, but that about says it all for me.
Yep. Mirrors my experiences. Returns following free periods when there was a string of "after the fact" sales. Some commentary about length.
 

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Ann in Arlington said:
It isn't actually that hard to click 'buy' accidentally from a kindle or Fire; I've even done it from my computer when I meant to sample and just moused to the wrong button.
Well then it shouldn't be so easy to accidentally buy an ebook, just as it isn't easy to accidentally buy a boat. The other retailers don't have returns policies on ebooks because it isn't easy to buy a book by mistake. This is an Amazon problem. If most of the returns are accidental purchases then surely that's something Amazon should be addressing, right? You would think so. Also, if that really is the case then why have 7 days at all? Why not something like 24/48 hours?

Readers are now so used to seeing free plastered everywhere on Amazon that they're going to start expecting everything to be free, or see everything as overpriced. But that's fine, because if they don't crack down on it, it'll be more widely abused, and then all writers will be a lot worse off, not just us short story writers. Perhaps then many will change their tune.
 
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