Industry & Advocacy News
February 1, 2023
Update, February 1, 2023: Yesterday, Amazon informed us that it had updated its systems and rolled out a new policy to crack down on ebook returns if a book has been partially read. Amazon updated its returns policy to state that customers “may not be eligible for a refund if a book has been partially read or if we detect account abuse.” Amazon also added a notice to the Kindle Orders page stating that “the self-service refund option may not be available” if a customer has a high rate of returns or has partially read a book.
We have reached out to Amazon about adding clarity to the terms of service to reflect our discussions that automatic returns will not be available if 10 percent or more of a book has been read. We will also continue monitoring reports from authors about returns to evaluate the efficacy of these changes.
Update, January 19, 2023: As we reported in September, Amazon is changing its ebook return policy in response to concerns raised by the Authors Guild and independent authors. At the time, Amazon told us that the new policy would go into effect by the end of 2022. After Amazon missed that initial estimate for the rollout and we reached out to them, Amazon informed us that they are in the final stages of making these technical changes and will roll out the new policy in the U.S. before the end of January. We will provide an update when these changes are complete and the policy is rolled out.
September 27, 2022: The Authors Guild is proud to report that our discussions with Amazon’s senior executive team concerning the platform’s policy that allows readers to return ebooks online within seven days of purchase, regardless of the amount read, have resulted in a major breakthrough. Yesterday, Amazon informed us of its plans to change its ebook return policy to restrict automatic returns to purchases where no more than 10 percent of the book has been read.
The planned change will go into effect by the end of the year. Any customer who wishes to return an ebook after reading more than 10 percent will need to send in a customer service request, which will be reviewed by a representative to ensure that the return request is genuine and complies with Amazon’s policies against abuse. This process will create a strong deterrent against buying, reading, and returning ebooks within seven days, and readers who attempt to abuse the return policy will be penalized under Amazon’s policies. The Authors Guild and the Society of Authors, its counterpart organization in the U.K., had taken up this issue with Amazon’s senior executives earlier this year. We applaud the scores of indie authors who advocated for this change.
We are also grateful to Amazon’s team for listening to our concerns and taking good faith action. The Amazon team is also reviewing individual author accounts for customer returns abuse. If you are an Authors Guild member who is experiencing anomalies in your returns numbers, please send in a legal query through our online form or by emailing email@example.com.
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