Please sign this petition! 😊

There’s a lot of drama going on through the BookTok community about returning books (like people will buy a book, read it, then return it to the bookstore, Amazon, etc. just to buy a new book, or will do this if they didn’t like the book). There have been many who have said they don’t mind returning books, but many authors have come out to say that it actually hurts them because it’s essentially theft.

There have been many videos on the topic, such as from the BookTok creator brooke_and_books, who defends authors and even explains how it’s effecting them. She has even spoken about piracy as well, which damages authors—especially self-published. Many have mentioned that if a book shows up on a pirated website, Amazon takes down the KU e-book (and or others)…

There’s now a petition for Amazon to change their return policy on returning books so this doesn’t happen to authors.

Here is the petition!


Isn’t that essentially the function of a library? Are we saying Libraries are bad things now?

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A library is different, cuz the people involved aka the librarians and the management buy the books and offer it as a lending service. Piracy doesn’t mean these middlemen buy books. They scrape them off of Kindle and other Ebook services and put it up on websites.


But this is, well, kinda normal when it comes to book stores if they have a return policy

How, exactly, is returning a book to the store “theft”? Little confused here

See, this is a bad thing because it’s theft. Returning isn’t theft. Piracy is

Edit: Wow that petition is getting signatures by the second! I don’t think it’ll take very long to reach the target number. I just read the actual info on the site. I think I see the confusion. You’ve said returning a book is theft, which it isn’t. What you’ve failed to mention is this part: “Authors are charged a download fee when a customer purchases an ebook. When the customer returns the ebook, the author is NOT reimbursed that download fee. In other words, the AUTHOR paid for that person to read their book!” THAT is theft because money is being taken away from the author because someone decided to be rude instead of just, idk, keeping the book or donating it second hand or something


The issue is not that people return books, though it might seem that way. The issue is people reading the book, cover to cover, and then returning it for a refund. With physical books, this happens less often - there are obvious signs of reading where a spine has cracked, or a page is dogeared, and most people have too much shame to admit to doing it and having to physically return a copy. With Kindle, the entire book is read, and then the author is not paid. There is also the additional fact that authors ARE paid if a reader returns a copy in a chain store - the author is paid when the order is processed, not when someone buys a copy from the store. Of course, there are exceptions with smaller bookstores who may buy a handful of copies and then return them if they don’t sell quickly enough.

Because you’ve read the entire thing - you have had a book for free. It’s the same principle as Steam game returns. Same thing with stock images or resource bundles - with digital files, once you download it - it’s yours. This is why the majority of online sellers who offer digital downloads do NOT accept refunds on any files, including me (I sell stock images). Amazon doesn’t work that way. People who read it and then return it got to enjoy a book that they SHOULD have paid for, and if they’re smart enough, will keep. They just get to keep their money, too, and ensure the author doesn’t get paid.


Libraries work differently because they buy the book—either which way, the author still gets paid.

I’ve heard of many authors who have said that when books are returned to Amazon, Amazon will have the author owe them money. So, they’re losing their money by doing this. Many consider it as theft because the author isn’t making money off their product, same for piracy websites. When you look on a piracy website who has your book for free, you’re consuming the product but the author isn’t getting paid for it. It’s like sneaking into a movie theater. The movie theater isn’t getting paid for any tickets or concessions, nor is the entire film crew, production company, etc.

Of course, it may seem a bit different for those big corporations because they have the ability to let it slide since they have loads of money. But for any author, since the majority are smaller authors, it can cost them their entire business if they try to make it into something more.

Same analogy for having a small business. If you buy a small business somewhere, it’s good for locals to come to you. But if a big and or better business of the same type of subject strolls through your neighborhood, you can lose business and eventually go out of business because no one is coming to your store. If no one is buying your books, if everyone returns your books where you have to pay the company to make that up, you’re not making money and therefore, could possibly stop writing if you wanted to make publishing your part-time or full-time career.

The problem that many people are doing, which is what causes the drama on the app, is how many people read it, won’t like it, and return it. And others have said that they will read the entire book and return it just so they could use the money to buy a new book.

It’s morally wrong because if you don’t like the book and return it, it’s like going to a restaurant and asking for a complete refund because you weren’t a fan of the food. Or going to a movie theater, watching the entire movie, not liking it, and asking for a refund on your ticket. It makes no sense. There’s many ways to get rid of the book besides returning it, like donating it or giving it to a friend. If you want to make money off it, sell it at a yard sale.

If you’re wanting to return the book just so you can use the money on other books, there’s a library for that. Or you can use thrift stores, yard sales, borrow from friends if they have it, use KU which allows unlimited books for a small monthly fee, or buy used books online if you don’t want to spend so much money on a brand new book.

I’ve also seen many people who argue that you can buy products and still return them, like buying a dress, and ask why that’s not any different.

Well, if you go to a clothing store, most places will have the ability for you to try it on before buying it. That way you can see if it fits and if you like it on yourself. If you’re browsing through a bookstore, you can also do this by reading the first few pages or skimming the book to see if it’s something up your alley.

But there’s also online clothing stores, and this is tricky because clothing products online are often inaccurate with sizing, the fabric, etc. It’s different because you can’t try it on before checking out, so if it doesn’t fit you or if you don’t like the fabric, you can return it. With a book, it’s not the same. You can still try the book out because some websites will have samples, and if you look up a book on Google, you can sometimes find multiple chapters for free.

But at the end of the day, you have a 50% chance of not liking the product. If you read the book part of the way, like say by 30-50 pages in, and didn’t like it, a return may not be that bad, though you probably had the ability to see if you liked it before purchasing it. However, if you read the book in its entirety or most of the way, it just seems wrong.

Like, as a hotel employee, I’ve had people come in to sleep in a room for a few hours and leave, asking for a refund because they didn’t spend the entire night. But we don’t do refunds for that. If you used a room for a few hours, it’s the same as using it all day. The maids still have to go in and clean after you. A refund would only be allowed if you went up to the room and after five minutes, you didn’t like it and left. Nothing was used. Nothing was destroyed. :woman_shrugging:

Sorry for all the analogies. :sweat_smile:


You keep a library book, and you pay a $30 fine to replace the book. Not what happens on Amazon.


Physical books degrade over time. Some companies won’t take back a book that you “broke the spine” of–that is, opened it enough that it’s no longer pristine.

Walmart won’t take back a book after 24 hours for cash reimbursement–the one time I returned a book because it pissed me off that much. Store credit is, I think, the length of regular returns.

So, there are major limits to physical book returns that vary by company.


See, when I actually saw this part by actually going into the petition site, then I understood why it was theft. Think it was the wording of the initial post that was a bit confusing ;-;


‘Sblood! Scalpers strike again!

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After reading this, it makes a lot more sense to sign the petition. You explained it a lot better. Everyone replying to me that libraries are different and not explaining why only furthered to confuse me. I think if OP wants people to sign the petition, they should probably explain the mechanics of why it’s needed better because I honest to god did not understand why it was a bad thing or any different than a library because I don’t buy e-books and have no concept of how that works.


As an author I can confirm this whole issue is hugely affecting us. I personally haven’t experienced it much (I don’t sell many copies to begin with lol) but I know several authors who are losing massive amounts of money to this. Some have even decided to quite writing altogether because it’s destroyed their entire business and discouraged them so much they can’t bring themselves to continue. Obviously there are great and supportive readers out there but there are so many awful, toxic ones too who are actively trying to tear us apart for fighting this, bashing authors who speak out, trying to drive readers away from them, and it just keeps getting worse. The amount of people who do this and say that we authors are entitled and selfish for wanting to be paid for what amounts to years of hard work and hundreds of dollars of investment to put these books out is just shocking.


It’s not shocking at all–to me, at least.

I prefer to read a book from the library over having it fill up my house, when I’m mass reading, so I have room for the books I love.

And so I don’t have a subscription to any platform. I’m a majority free reader at this point.

So long as I can read fairly cheaply, I won’t think much about the cost to the industry.

That being said, being made aware that I’m reading for free, and it’s off of people who could be going into debt for my free read is a big moral issue.

Especially from a platform like Amazon who can afford to keep the financial hit off the author. If Amazon wants to keep doing freebies, the 3rd party needs to be able to opt out of malicious refunds.

I’ve got absolutely no problem with the idea that people want to screw writers over and have no guilt over it because the “inclusivity” and “that’s offensive” movement wasn’t about being moral or right at all, but about opening society as much as I can for ME to access everything. So, if we thought people were getting better, they weren’t. They just ain’t got the same beliefs as the previous generation, but are just as selfish as ever.

Truly moral people will compromise their own freedoms voluntary. Immoral bandwagoners just want everything to be a freebie, and so rock any form of morality that allows them to do just that.

It’s a skin that is worn, not a truth that is lived.

And it’s the way humans have always been. This ain’t nothing new.


It’s not the fact that people do it that’s shocking to me. I mean I can fully understand that A. A lot of people don’t think about or aren’t aware of the damage it does or B. Don’t care because they’re selfish people. There have always been and always will be crappy selfish people who will take advantage of an opportunity to screw someone over. Like you said, it’s nothing new.

What shocked me when this all started to blow up was the backlash. The vast majority of readers I’ve seen aren’t in the “oh I didn’t realize this” camp. In fact aside from this thread I don’t think I’ve seen a single reader who wasn’t aware of this issue say anything about it being wrong. It’s how horribly vicious these people have gotten to the point of personally attacking any author they see mention it. I know authors who have gotten death threats over this. I mean I had pretty low faith in humanity before but they’ve hit another level.


I understand.

I want to see good in people, and I usually do, in individuals, not the masses. Never the masses.

I just thought the threshold was that low the whole time because the tactics are the same for both a good and a bad cause, is all. People are behaving exactly as they are trained to, when it’s something they don’t want to champion.


Sorry that I didn’t make it clear… :grimacing: :sweat_smile: :sadhug:

I don’t buy/read e-books, either, so I was also lost when I started hearing about it on BookTok/WriterTok. I’m not too particular on the details, even though I have heard a lot about how it sort of affects authors through some writers and readers. It’s just so crazy and hard to fathom that this happens to authors… :confused:

That’s what so many have said will happen—just like how if you’re a small business owner and a new business in town comes in that sells the same things but is bigger and better, they can put you out of business, so essentially, when authors aren’t getting paid, they stop writing or publishing. And so many don’t care… :confused:

Other people have said that they’re only going to sell their books from their personal websites, and how this should become the new norm.

Exactly! I’ve been fighting this on BookTok for weeks now, as well as many other readers and writers. There’s SO MANY people who just don’t care. I’ve been told: “Readers are not responsible for a writer’s financial situation.” “Writers shouldn’t publish if they can’t afford to be pirated and have books returned to them.” “Writers shouldn’t get a say in this because they’re bias.” “Writers are selfish and greedy if they don’t support piracy and books being returned to them.”

On TikTok, readinglikesappho and mckenseareads are some of the readers who are pro-piracy and pro-returning books who have lots of people on their videos agreeing with them. And like, they just keep making excuses. :upside_down_face:

That’s what’s all come down to. I’ve heard so many excuses, like how books (brand new) in other countries are more expensive than those elsewhere and even how e-books are the same price. People don’t have libraries or access to a library. But buying books online and a library aren’t the only ways to get books… or to read. Like, I understand some of this stuff isn’t always accessible because not everyone has the same privileges in other countries, but there are multiple ways to read or get a book.

The free ways of reading (legally) would include: if you have the internet which so many people do—especially those who are fighting over this online—you can simply use a free writing website like Wattpad or Raddish or whatever. If you have book friends who own books, you can borrow their books. If you have a library, you can use that. Some people will give the excuse of “You need an address,” but some libraries will accept work addresses or you can use a friend’s address or see if your friend has a library card that you can use. And some libraries will even accept just an ID without proof of residency. Not to mention, there’s websites like Libby Library where it’s like a library but online.

For cheap ways of getting books, there’s using sales or third party sales online. I mean, I buy from Amazon, but I usually buy used or like new books that are much cheaper (average book cost for brand new could be 15 dollars, but I bought it for 8-10). And this can be from any bookstore online. You can use thrift stores, yard sales, or buy a book from a library if they have a bookstore. I’ve bought books that were 50 cents to a dollar at a library, so they’re out there. Or there’s KU where you can use like a 10 dollar subscription for unlimited books. You can even use some of these ways and save up so you can buy a brand new book or a physical book.

But when you explain this to people, they brush it off and act like it went in one ear and out the other. They’ll completely dismiss it and won’t care because in the end, they just want a free physical book or free e-book. It boils my blood… :rage:


No worries! I’m sorry if I sounded rude or angry, that wasn’t my intention. I was just genuinely confused. I suppose I should have looked into it deeper before assuming it worked just like a library.


And that is why I directly quoted the site :+1:


All G. If you haven’t already, maybe edit the initial post to explain the whole money part. Would probably help a lot :+1:

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people in this day and age really don’t understand the amount of work and sheer costs that go into creating entertainment and content. I don’t know if that’s a recent thing, a socio-cultural thing, or always has been, but in terms of enjoying something people will go the furthest mile to get it for as cheap or free as possible.