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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Refunds on ebooks - is it fair?

I was driven to write this post by a number of reports that there are so-called reputable websites out there actually advising people to buy their ebook from Amazon, and take advantage of their 7 day refund policy.
A lot of kindle editions are not very long and for people with plenty of time on their hands, it is easy enough to read the whole thing, then return it.  One person had read of someone boasting of having bought, read and returned over 1000 kindle books, all for nothing.
If she had gone out shoplifting and got away with it, thus costing the shop owner money, would she still be boasting of it?  Probably not.  More likely she would be condemning the person who shoplifted and even reporting such a person to the proper authorities, and she would feel very good about doing so.  But people think nothing of doing the same thing with an author, who doesn't simply buy in books to sell, but puts their heart and soul into them.  It is not Amazon she is cheating, it is the author.
I haven't heard of any websites advising people on how to shoplift and if they did, they would probably get a lot of complaints.  It is no different.
The refund policy gives readers confidence to buy from an unknown author, but it does rely on people's honesty.
A lot of work goes into writing a book, sometimes three months worth, sometimes six and very often a couple of years.  Gone with the Wind took seven years to write so I read somewhere;  how would you feel if you had spent all that time wearing your brain out, writing the best book you could, editing it, proof reading it, perhaps even paying for those services, only to have someone think they are very clever to buy it, read it, then return it for a refund for no better reason than that they can?
Whatever it is you do with your time, painting, needlework, knitting, or whatever and you found you could sell those arts because you are rather good at them, just think about how you would feel if you spent months perfecting something only to have someone claim a refund because they could.
It is not right, it is not fair and it is soul destroying for the author.  If you truly don't think the book was worth the money, if you can't finish it or think it is badly written, by all means return it.  But not because you think it is clever to read a worthwhile book for free.
I have often likened people who publish badly written, grammatically incorrect, badly spelled, punctuation challenged twaddle and think that's ok, to bad dog walkers who don't bother to pick up their dog crap.  Other people leave it there, after all?  It gives us all a bad name and so does self publishing rubbish and expecting people to pay good money for it.  There is even someone trying to sell the questions and her own answers to a college exam, and wondering why no one wants to buy it.
I liken people who abuse the refund system as thieves, no better than shoplifters.
Amazon's self publishing program has given readers access to some very cheaply priced talent that they would not otherwise have ever seen.  Treat that talent fairly and there will be lots more;  abuse it and it will disappear.

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