There are many things I don’t like about Amazon’s update to their reporting for book sales. However, one interesting new metric is “books returned”. A few weeks ago (I write some of these blog posts well in advance, as you probably know by now) I was checking my stats and I saw that someone had purchased and returned one of my books.
A lot of people also know that I fucking hate Tiktok. I think it’s a terrible app that is mining and selling your data — remember, if a service is free, then the product is you — and I want it to be launched into the sun. Apparently there’s a subset of Tiktok called “Booktok”, and on Booktok some folks are saying you can use Amazon as a library, purchasing ebooks, reading them, and returning them before the 7-day grace period is up to get your money back.
Look, I get it: sometimes you buy a book, you realize it’s not for you, and you want to return it. That’s fine. But authors get charged when someone returns a book, and small authors (like me) can’t really afford that hit to the already-small amount of money we make on our writing. Plus, it’s disheartening. And also, I’d really like to know why someone returns a book — it would be great if Amazon made those stats available too.
What’s really interesting is that (a) the book that was purchased and returned is available on Kindle Unlimited (b) that particular book was the most-read book of mine in June as of the day I wrote this post (June 9). So clearly it was either someone doing the buy-and-return thing or someone who truly didn’t think the book was for them. I hope it was the latter.
This is not an ad for Kindle Unlimited by any stretch of the imagination, but: almost all of my books are available through KU. The only ones that aren’t are Other Options (because I refuse to charge $2.99 for something that short, and $2.99 is the minimum you can charge to be included in KU) and Detective Daddy (because Amazon sometimes gets squirrely about the word “daddy” in titles and I didn’t want to risk being put in Amazon Jail). And I’ll be the first to admit there is a lot of crap on KU. But I’ve also found some hidden gems, and that makes it worth the monthly subscription fee. Plus, most (but not all) self-published erotica is available on KU, so if you like erotica, it’s the place to be.
Look: if you buy a book and hate it, sure, return it. But if you are using Amazon as a library, you’re not only harming small authors but you’re also missing out on the fact that there are actual libraries, paid for with tax money you’re already spending, that have plenty of books for you to check out — printed, electronic, and audio.
And please… get the hell off Tiktok.