Amazon is dramatically changing their Kindle book return policy, due to increasing pressure from authors and the Authors Guild. Previously, customers could return a Kindle book for whatever reason and get a refund. Even if they have read the entire book. TikTok is the primary culprit, as many popular content creators say that bookstores should be treated like libraries.
According to Amazon’s Kindle return policy, you can “cancel an accidental book order within seven days.” While accidental purchases do occur—for example, if a child or a pet clicks on a book by accident or you purchase the wrong book with a very common title—several authors said that some people are reading the book in full before turning them to Amazon . Customers will get their money back, but authors will be charged a fee to have that book restocked.
Getting a refund on a Kindle book is ridiculously simple under the current rules. You just need to visit Manage Your Content and Devices and sign in with the same Amazon account information you used to purchase your content. From Your Content, select the Actions button next to the title you want to return, and then select Return for Refund. In the pop-up window, choose the reason for return, then select Return for Refund. The refund is then instantly given the book will disappear from your Kindle e-Reader, Fire Tablet or on any of the Kindle reading apps for Android and iOS.
Amazon does have systems in place for people who return books egregiously. There is a threshold limit for refunds, and when it is reached, the Amazon accounts are unable to get refunds for Kindle books anymore, it is like a switch, that turns off the feature on an account level. The exact limit is not public information, but various sources have told Good e-Reader that it is between 4-6 returns in a month that will set things in motion. Amazon customer service knows about these limits, since there is a note on the account and there is nothing that can be done to lift it.
The entire refund policy is going to change by the end of the year. Amazon plans to limit automatic e-book returns to cases where people have read no more than 10 percent of the book, according to the Authors Guild. Any customer who wishes to return an e-book 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 e-books within seven days, and readers who attempt to abuse the return policy will be penalized under Amazon’s policies.
Augmenting the return policies for e-books might be new, but Amazon has done this sort of thing before. The Amazon-owned audiobook platform Audible tightened a rule that deducted royalties for titles returned or exchanged within a year from the purchase date. After the change, authors kept royalties for anything returned after seven days.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.