Thursday, 24 October 2013


There has been a great hoohah in the press lately about the type of self-published books Amazon are allowing to be sold on their website. This has resulted in some online stores removing self-published titles with what they consider inappropriate covers, or content as suggested by the blurb. Basically censorship and denying the reader the ability to have the brains enough to read what they want.

Now.... I'm not related to Stephen Hawking or anything, but to me this seems a bit of a hasty move. There are categories that you can list your book under, plainly stating what it's about. Therefore, the adult is responsible for making the decision whether or not to buy.

If they're worried about children seeing these titles.... where are the parental controls? You get them on your pc, your laptop, your TV for God's sake. So surely the answer is to categorize the titles correctly and make sure the ones you don't want your kiddies wandering across are locked down tight and they can't get into them! The answer is not to remove the author's right to sell and the reader's right to buy!

There is, however, another issue with Amazon that seems to slip through the cracks and, as the author, we have to just bite our tongues and put up with it. What is that issue? The legitimate theft of an e-book.

There is a 30 day returns policy on everything on Amazon, including e-books. Although there are some things they won't accept the return of.... doesn't accept returns of the following items:
  • Items that are classified as hazardous materials or use flammable liquids or gases (contact the manufacturer directly for service, warranty, return, and refund information)
  • Computer laptops, desktops, and Kindles more than 30 days after delivery
  • Any product missing the serial number or UPC
  • Downloadable software products
  • Online subscriptions after they have been accessed
  • Gift cards (except as required by law)
  • Pay As You Go (or prepaid) phone cards (contact a local authorized dealer or the carrier directly)
  • Prepaid game cards (World of Warcraft, Xbox 360 Live, Wii Points, etc.)
  • Items purchased from sellers other than (but the seller may accept the return)
  • Some jewelry orders
  • Some health and personal care items
  • Grocery products
  • Open software
  • Items with special shipping restrictions imposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (as indicated on the product detail page)
  • Live insects
  • Wine

So, you can steal a book, but you can't return live insects, because books aren't important, right?
I may have a little problem with that. 

As a self-published author I can keep track of my returns. I can't however keep a track of returns of titles published by Silver or Dreamspinner. There are, however, a group of people out there who purposely buy titles, read them, then return them - and are quite blatant about it. You can't go into Waterstone or Barnes & Noble, or any other book store and say, sorry I didn't like it, can I have my money back. Oh, I get it, it's not a REAL book is it? It's only an e-book, so what does it matter? 

I'll tell you when it matters. It matters when my kids ask me for something and I can't give it to them because I've had 20% returns on a title. That's when it matters, when you're messing with my kids. Writing is my passion, that's true, but it's also my business and the way I put food on the table, just like any other working single mother. So if any of you thieves out there are working single mothers... shame on you.

But what has sparked this post today? The release of New York Cowboy today - and the return of 1 copy. It's only 1 copy you say, what the hell is she on her soapbox for?

Yes, it may well be only one copy, but this book is very special to me because it is dedicated to my friend Keith who lost his fight with cancer at the beginning of September, and 20% of the royalties from each copy sold is being donated to the hospice, Roxburgh House, who cared for Keith during his last weeks and continues to care for the countless others who are still waging their war against this awful disease.

So now you're not only willing to steal from me, but from a hospice, too? Yes, today it's 1 copy, but how many are there to follow? Well I can promise you now, I will take into account every return and I will take money out of my own pocket to make sure 20% of my royalties go to Roxburgh House. 

Amazon has been so quick to rip the titles from their shelves but, as my friend Tina said, they should be paying more attention to the other policies that slip through the cracks.

So... I hope you enjoyed the book Mr/Ms/Mrs Returner number 1... and I hope you choke on it.

Thank you for listening.


  1. This has been a growing problem. I track this and find the rate of returns ramping up alarmingly. And yes, it is as high as 20% or more. And what is the final straw for me is the reader leaving a bad review and boasting that they are returning the book because it 'wasn't to his/her taste.' It is stealing, plain and simple.

    I have tried to engage Amazon in a discussion about this issue but either receive a 'thanks for playing' canned reply or no reply at all.

    I am not a lending library. I invest a considerable amount of money in editing, book covers and distribution. I won't even mention the hours/weeks/months/years of time and energy invested in creating a book.

    If someone quite honestly cannot afford my book(s), I have said on many occasions: contact me via my website and I will *give* you a copy. Just. Stop. Stealing.

    This used to be confined to Amazon:US but has now spread to their other sites, including the UK.

    Something has to be done about it. I am considering not publishing through Amazon (as if that would make a difference, but still...) and concentrate on the smaller ponds: OmniLit/ARe and others. They, at least, have rational, reasonable policies in place that do not shaft the author.

    Thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention.

    1. I'm sorry it's happening to you too Nya. It's soul destroying. I don't know how they can live with themselves.

  2. I love the books I buy, and the wonderful authors who write them....I just don't understand how people can do this to others without a conscience.
    I am so sorry that this happens.
    Every time I read anything about authors being robbed of the profit they work so damn hard for I just get madder than hell. As reader I am appalled at the blatant theft of authors work. I work hard for my paycheck, and maybe it's how I was raised by my own hard working single Mom (may she rest in peace), but any theft is freaking wrong. I've raised my kids the same way..and I just want to throttle these thieves.

    Wishing you all the best, and hoping that there is a better system than the lousy one that Amazon has.