Amazon to crack down on ebook ‘read and return’ after Authors Guild campaign

The Authors Guild campaign against Amazon’s policy of allowing customers to return ebooks has paid off with Amazon set to crack down on returns.

The guild says that discussions with Amazon’s senior executive team over the policy allowing readers to return ebooks within seven days of purchase, regardless of the amount read, have brought a major breakthrough.

It says Amazon plans to change its ebook return policy to restrict automatic returns to purchases where no more than 10% of the book has been read.

At present, Kindle books can be returned for accidental purchase within seven days of making the purchase.

A rising trend of Kindle ebook returns has been reported over recent months as authors claimed that social media influencers are telling users they can read and return the ebooks.

Download fee leads to loss for authors

Amazon charges a download fee to authors using the 70% royalty level based on the size of the ebook (in Mb). When a Kindle ebook is returned, Amazon claws back the royalty paid to the author but does not reimburse the download fee. This means that authors actually make a net loss on an ebook return.

The new Amazon policy on ebook returns is set to go into effect by the end of the year. Any customer who wants to return an ebook after reading more than 10% will need to send in a customer service request, which will be reviewed by a representative to ensure the request is genuine and complies with Amazon’s policies against abuse.

Deterrent against read and return

The Authors Guild says this process will create a strong deterrent against read and return. The guild took up the issue with Amazon earlier this year.

In 2020, Amazon’s audiobook platform Audible changed the policy of clawing back author royalties on audiobooks returned or exchanged within a year after buying. Although Audible kept its policy of allowing audiobook returns for up to 365 days, authors kept royalties for any title returned after seven days.

The Authors Guild

The Authors Guild is the oldest and biggest professional organization of writers in the US. The guild welcomes self-published, independent authors as well as traditionally published authors.