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.
Sorry for all the analogies.