Amazon to Change Ebook Return Policy, End Refunds for Quick Readers

No more reading a whole ebook from Amazon in less than a week and easily getting your money back.

Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala
Laura Hautala Former Senior Writer
Laura wrote about e-commerce and Amazon, and she occasionally covered cool science topics. Previously, she broke down cybersecurity and privacy issues for CNET readers. Laura is based in Tacoma, Washington, and was into sourdough before the pandemic.
Expertise E-commerce, Amazon, earned wage access, online marketplaces, direct to consumer, unions, labor and employment, supply chain, cybersecurity, privacy, stalkerware, hacking. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Laura Hautala
2 min read

Amazon will also penalize readers who abuse the ebook returns system, according to The Authors Guild.

David Carnoy/CNET

Amazon soon won't automatically refund all ebook purchases up to seven days after purchase, according to an announcement Thursday from The Author's Guild. The policy change, scheduled to take effect by the end of the year, will stop readers from gobbling up books and then quickly getting their money back. 

Instead, automatic returns will only be available if readers have gotten through no more than 10% of an ebook. To return a book after reading more than 10%, customers will have to go through a lengthier review process. 

"This process will create a strong deterrent against buying, reading, and returning e-books within seven days," The Authors Guild, a professional organization for writers, said in a statement, "and readers who attempt to abuse the return policy will be penalized under Amazon's policies."

The Authors Guild statement didn't provide further details on what penalties might await people who abuse the return system. 

"We're always listening to feedback to provide the best experience for customers and authors," an Amazon spokesperson said in a comment. "While we continue to see low overall returns, we will deactivate the self-service return option for any book read past 10% by the end of the year."

Authors expressed concerns over the previous policy because it allowed people to read their books without paying. The practice was spread in part by TikTok users who explained how to read and return ebooks purchased from Amazon.

One author, Lisa Kessler, said on Twitter in June that excessive returns under Amazon's policy caused her to owe money to the company instead of earning royalties.

"Authors need to eat too," Kessler said.