There is a new trend on TikTok that’s equating to financial ruin for authors, and it needs to stop.
Summer is peak book reading time. You kick back by the pool or at the beach with an adult beverage and a good book, and relax into oblivion.
It’s one of my favorite summer pastimes. I fill up my Kindle with new reads, and my only goal for the whole summer is to read through each and every one of them.
This has been the tradition of so many book readers, but there is a new — somewhat awful — TikTok trend that’s hurting those authors that I so adore.
See, they’ve gone through the painstaking process of writing the book — sometimes an arduous task — editing the book, rewriting the book, more editing, revising, and usually it ends with authors busting ass to publish and sell their books.
Historically, authors get paid when a book sells. Getting paid is like the cherry on top for these authors who have poured their hearts and souls into these books.
But, now TikTok — and Amazon — are bringing down the writing community one return at a time, and it has to stop.
Lisa Kessler is an award-winning author of more than 40 novels in the paranormal romance and thriller genres. You may know her from her Moon series or her Muse chronicles.
She recently took to Twitter to shed some light on this horrible TikTok trend, and share her thoughts.
Just a reminder that Amazon is NOT a library. When you read and return a book it COSTS the author… It’s June 1st and I owe Amazon at the moment because people are reading through the Muse series and returning the books when they finish…. :-/ Authors need to eat too… 🙁Lisa Kessler on Twitter
According to BuzzFeed, TikTok users are sharing the fact that readers can buy, read, and then return eBooks.
This is all fun and games for the reader, but it’s causing catastrophic financial trouble for authors.
Until May, I rarely ever had a returned eBook, and when I did it would be just one or two, which I chalked up to accidental purchases, totally understandable. But last month, there was a sudden swell of returns of an entire series of books.Lisa Kessler to BuzzFeed
See, what has been happening is Amazon has a crazy lenient return policy on eBooks. It’s actually a bit too lenient, IMHO.
They allow people to purchase an eBook, and then the people have a full 7 days to return the book.
That gives the person plenty of time to read the book — which may have cost them like 5 bucks — and then “return” the book for a full refund.
Seems like a pretty good deal.
EXCEPT, the author is then held responsible for those returns.
What do I mean?
The authors get paid per book that they sell. When you return a book, the money gets taken away from them.
Not only that, they are charged a fee by Amazon for the “delivery” of the book. They don’t get that back. So, they are actually LOSING money on the deal.
There is also a digital delivery fee that Amazon charges the author, and we do not receive those back when a book is returned.Lisa Kessler to BuzzFeed
Over on #BookTok, there is a HUGE discussion about the ethics of taking advantage of Amazon’s crazy return policy.
Like, it gives me real ‘I’m going to go into the restaurant, eat the whole meal, and then tell the server I didn’t like the meal, and then leave without tipping” vibes. Is it legal to do this? Yes. Is anyone going to stop you from doing it? No, probably not. Are you still the biggest and most entitled asshole in the room for doing it? Yes.Trey Burwell on TikTok
If you try to spew the absolute crap that is “Returning a book after you’ve read it is theft,” I need you to delete your social media account. Because that might genuinely be the stupidest f***ing book take I’ve ever heard. [Authors losing money] is not the reader’s problem and that is not something that readers are responsible for in any kind of way.readinglikesappho on TikTok
What do YOU think about the whole returning the ebook debate?