Due to increasing pressure from authors and the Authors Guild, Amazon is dramatically changing its return policy for Kindle books. Previously, customers could return a Kindle book for any reason and receive a refund. Even if you’ve read the whole book. TikTok is the main culprit, as many popular content creators say 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 happen — for example, when a child or pet accidentally clicks on a book, or you buy the wrong book with a very common title — several authors indicated that some people read the book in its entirety before submitting it to Amazon . Customers get their money back, but authors are charged a fee for restocking the book.
Getting a refund for a Kindle book is ridiculously easy under the current rules. You only need to visit Manage your content and devices and sign in using the same Amazon account information you used to purchase your content. Choose from your content Actions next to the track you want to return, and then select return for refund. In the pop-up window, select the reason for the return and then select return for refund. The refund is then immediate and the book disappears from your Kindle e-reader, Fire tablet, or any of the Kindle reading apps for Android and iOS.
Amazon has schemes for people who are outrageously returning books. There is a threshold for refunds and when that is reached the Amazon accounts can no longer receive refunds for Kindle books, it’s like a switch that turns off the feature at the account level. The exact limit isn’t publicly known, but various sources have told Good e-Reader that it’s between 4-6 returns in a month that will set things in motion. Amazon customer service knows about these limits because there is a note on the account and nothing can be done to override them.
The entire refund policy will change by the end of the year. According to the Authors Guild, Amazon plans to limit automatic returns of e-books to cases where people haven’t read more than 10 percent of the book. Any customer wishing to return an e-book after reading more than 10 percent must submit a customer service request, which will be reviewed by a representative to ensure the return request is genuine and complies with Amazon’s anti-abuse policies. This process creates a strong deterrent to buying, reading, and returning eBooks within seven days, and readers who attempt to abuse the return policy will be penalized according to Amazon’s guidelines.
Expanding e-book return policies may be new, but Amazon has done this before. Amazon-owned audiobook platform Audible tightened a rule that deducts royalties for titles returned or exchanged within a year of purchase. After the change, authors kept royalties on anything returned after seven days.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audio books and e-readers for twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.