If you don’t follow Amazon Kindle news closely, or spend too much time on BookTok, the reading-focused community on TikTok, you may not be aware of the ongoing e-book return drama. But now it has prompted Amazon to change the way it handles its digital books.
A TikTok trend encouraged readers to quickly read and then return ebooks on their Kindle, with the automatic return program giving them a full refund even if they had read the entire book.
This didn’t hurt Amazon, as readers probably expected, and the action actually left authors out of pocket, as they were the ones who had to pay the refund. Many e-book authors published statements criticizing this action, and it seems that Amazon listened (see testimonials on Twitter here (opens in a new tab)Y here (opens in a new tab)and a change.org petition (opens in a new tab) about it here).
1/2 Every time you return an ebook on Amazon, the author is charged more than they were paid for the sale. Yes, that means we could owe Amazon at the end of the month. Since TikToks went viral saying ‘it’s okay to return e-books’June 3, 2022
In a publication by the Authors Union (opens in a new tab), a US-based organization designed to protect the rights of authors, it has been confirmed that Amazon’s e-book return policy is changing. Starting at the end of the year, you will no longer be able to automatically return e-books if you’ve read more than 10% of them.
In the future, if you’ve read 11% or more of a book, you can still submit a return, but it will be reviewed by a natural person, and the Author’s Guild believes this will work as a reasonable deterrent to people gambling. the system.
There are still a few things to clear up: collections of poems or short stories, which you might jump into, might label you as having read more than 10% if you only read an excerpt halfway through, for example, and it’s not clear how easy it’s going to be to get a refund through this manual system. But it is a step in the right direction.
Analysis: good or bad for readers?
For some books, 10% is a lot of pages; if (for whatever reason) you’re reading Edward Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that’s over 500 pages in itself. But for novels or shorter texts, the difference between 10% and 11% could be an accidental page turn.
This new change is certainly good for authors, and means opportunistic and bad-faith readers will no longer be able to game the system to get a free read without spending any money. Now, more authors will be able to rely on their writing to support themselves, which is great news for literature.
Not such good news for your standard readers, though, who can really get about 15% of their way into a book before realizing it’s just not for them and they want their money back.
Of course, it’s the readers who took the mickey who we have to blame for this change, with the TikTok trend (and other users who did the same, we can’t solely blame this community of readers) likely turning this little quirk of politics of Amazon returns in a major problem.
This update could affect the way some people read books, making them much more cautious about their book’s progress percentage (shown on Kindle e-readers) than they otherwise would be, to make a decision about whether they will progress beyond 10% or not. But if it means authors can keep writing, maybe it’s a good thing after all.