I’ve seen the petitions flying around Facebook these days about changing Amazon’s policies on book returns. A lot of authors, disappointed with returns, want the return window changed from 7 days to a mere 24-hours. That is something I disagree with, as both an author and a reader. But that’s not the point of this blog post, and frankly, I couldn’t say it better than Lisa McCourt Hollar does here: http://www.lisamccourthollar.com/2014/03/e-book-returns-my-thoughts.html
The point of this blog post is simply to make some suggestions that will benefit readers and authors alike.
Kindle lending library: Many authors, myself include, allow lending for their books. After all, when I read a good paperback or hardback, I usually lend it to someone I know will enjoy it. I treat my Kindle books the same way. I know not everyone can afford to shell out their money, especially if they’re not sure how they’ll like a certain author. There are even groups you can join for lending. This cuts down treating the Amazon website like a library- buying a book, reading it, and returning it so the buyer isn’t out any money. One huge way to support your favorite authors? Don’t do that! Returns may save you money, but they do hurt your favorite authors.
Read the information available to you: This can be broken down into several categories…
1- Reviews: Read the reviews, particularly the long ones. Those reviews generally highlight the reasons the reader liked or disliked what they read. Maybe the book was compelling, but maybe the characters were flat, emotionless. Maybe the book was well-written, but lacked good editing. Know before you buy!
2- Description: It sounds silly, sure, but there are many people who don’t even bother. If they see a good sale and the cover catches their eye, they’ll download the book… and many return because the book wasn’t what they wanted. Read the description to make sure the product is what you’re seeking!
3- A lot of books offer the “Look Inside” option. That’s key for me when I download a book. I like to read the free preview so I know if the writing style and story appeal to me. Very seldom do I return a book now. Most of the ones I download but return are ones with little to no reviews and no “Look Inside” option, so I’m downloading ‘blind’ so to speak.
Write good reviews: Love a book? Hate it? Write the review so future downloaders know what they’re getting into. Amazon will allow you to review with a minimum of 20 words, but that’s not particularly helpful. What information would YOU have wanted to know before downloading? Was the book good? Does it have a lot of typos and wrong word usage? If that’s information that would have been important to you, include it in your review! You’re helping people choosing what book to spend their money on, and you’re helping the author, too. We do pay attention to suggestions, and those reviews tell us what to fix, what books you want more of, whether to continue a series or not… We listen!
There are so many things you can do to avoid downloading a book you won’t like, and prevent someone else from doing the same. An honest return is acceptable, but Amazon isn’t your public library. I don’t want to see the policy changed, but a lot of authors feel differently. More careful research from a potential buyer can stop the return issues in a way a policy change won’t. Just a little food for thought…