Please know that there is an important reason why you cannot return books on BookBaby Bookshop – it’s because we put authors first. Here is our statement on the #ReadandReturnChallenge.
TikTok does a lot of good for independent authors. As a platform, it is built for discovery – and is an essential tool for authors and other creators. With all of its benefits come some inherent flaws, as certain trends could end up being quite harmful. A recent BookTok trend was the #ReadAndReturnChallenge, and it has been costly.
In March 2022, a TikTok video instructed readers about a loophole in Amazon’s eBook return policy – allowing books to be read quickly and then returned. As the word spread through the platform, thousands of readers quickly returned books after reading them – likely unaware that this money was being taken away from the authors. Although the masses were technically following Amazon’s return policy, authors were directly harmed. Their royalties were being deducted as readers got free access to their work, and the authors also were held responsible for the digital delivery fees.
Books on BookBaby Bookshop cannot be returned because author equity means everything. As an indie author, it takes hours upon hours of work to build your personal brand, promote, and publish. Earning sales is no easy task, and when you do, you deserve each and every dollar in your royalty payout. Allowing customers 14 days (regardless of how much of the book has been read) to return an eBook equates theft – or worse. The author essentially paid that reader to read their book, eating fees and suffering overall losses when too many people make returns. See Amazon’s current return policy here
So, when you purchase your next book on BookBaby Bookshop, there’s a reason why checkout makes it clear that the book cannot be returned. It is not meant to be harmful towards consumers, rather, the policy is meant to protect authors. Don’t worry, if there are quality issues with any of the books you purchase, our support team will make sure that it gets resolved. What matters to us is that authors never have to eat costs on Bookshop. As a fair trade company, we manage our store to ensure that authors have a space to earn some of the highest royalty rates in the industry, and never have to worry about loopholes that can harm them and affect their earnings.
It’s quite difficult to see some authors have their careers impacted by something as small – but dangerous – as an eBook return policy. But it shows why it is so important to consider every possible way to support indie authors. We do our best to prioritize author equity and strive to be the most author-friendly bookstore on the internet. For that reason, we stand by our decision to make books (print and eBook) non-returnable. So, while you have the book, enjoy each page and don’t forget about the author who put hours into creating the final product.