I wasn’t going to touch this story because I thought at first that the claim was an exaggeration or misinterpretation, but I was wrong.
If you’ve been listening to the author grapevine over the past few weeks, you may have heard authors griping about Audible’s return policy. While you can usually find someone griping about something, no matter the topic, this time authors have a valid complaint.
Amazon’s audiobook subsidiary is actively promoting exchanges to potential subscribers.
What do I mean by “actively”?
Well, when I checked into renewing my Audible subscription, I saw that Audible wants me to know that if I reactivate my monthly subscription, I will be able to exchange any audiobook I am not happy with:
Also, when I visited Audible’s Memberships Benefits page, I was shown this:
And if you visit the Audible page on Amazon.com, you will see this:
While I think Amazon’s liberal return policy is a great idea because it reassures readers that they don’t have to worry about wasting money on crappy content, I share authors’ concern about actively promoting returns. I beleive that promoting this as a “feature” attracts serial returnees – people who will consistently return every audiobook they get.
This does not hurt Amazon, but it does hurt authors and publishers. Amazon isn’t refunding the credit that their customer bought, which means they get to keep the money (this is why it’s considered an “exchange” rather than a “return”). At the same time, however, Amazon is also taking money away from authors each time a subscriber makes an “exchange” of an audiobook which authors paid to produce.
No wonder they’re pissed.