Is Amazon properly concerned about the author’s lawsuits?

Is Amazon properly concerned about the author's lawsuits?
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The authors are against Amazon’s e-book return policy which allows buyers the option to return an e-book within seven days of purchase. However, the return policy that has been around for a long time has gained some notoriety in recent times after many shared a “trick” on social sites like TikTok and Facebook about how the same thing can be used to claim a full refund on an email. -book you bought, read, and then returned to Amazon within the seven-day window.

However, the authors state that this trend is leading them to sometimes even end up with negative balances. This is because the royalties authors earn when someone buys their ebook are deducted from their earnings balance once the ebook is returned within the seven-day period. While Amazon’s return policy acts as a hedge against accidental purchases, for many it’s enough time to read the eBook in its entirety. That’s prolific reading and it’s commendable, though not so much when it’s costing authors their keep.

The authors point out that readers who believe that taking advantage of the free return policy is a way to cheat Amazon are actually stealing the author’s resources and livelihood. This is because the retailer does not bear the risk of allowing their buyers, but passes it on to the author. For authors, it’s hard to miss the allure of Amazon being the biggest player in the e-book or audiobook segment with a worldwide presence. However, it is also the only company that has the most lenient return policy.

For example, Kobo or Apple iBooks both require buyers to contact the respective company’s customer service to find out if their eBook purchases are eligible for a refund. Also, as NPR noted, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords do not honor any return requests for any e-book sold through their channels.

As the authors have also pointed out, Amazon does not have a return policy like it does for its ebooks and audiobooks for other digital content sold through its platform. That includes digital copies of films or movies, both of which cannot be returned once purchased. The authors have expressed dismay at the way Amazon is treating ebooks and audiobooks differently from movies or music, even though these are digital content at their core.

Perhaps it’s time for Amazon to review its return policy for ebooks and audiobooks and come up with something that takes into account the valid concerns of both authors and readers. Perhaps it would be better to allow readers a shorter period of time, such as 48 hours to return a book. Or make e-book purchases non-refundable if buyers have made, say, 20 percent of the book.

However, Amazon is justifying its position, saying that the flexible return policy is aimed at offering the best “experience for customers and authors” possible. The retailer also said it has the necessary safeguards in place to prevent such policies from being misused and takes into account regular feedback from both customers and authors to ensure concerns from all parties are properly addressed. It remains to be seen whether the retailer is capable of meeting the author’s demands or is simply waiting for the trend promoted by various TikTok influencers to die a natural death.

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