Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Amazon Ebook Returns, AKA Piracy Enabling


This is more of a rant than an article.  It's about online piracy and theft of artistic work.

I'm a writer.  I write books and try to sell them.  My books sell better than many authors, but not near as well as others.  I guess you could say I'm a low-end midlister.  I work hard to write more and I market to get people interested in my books.

Since I primarily sell my books as ebooks, it's very easy to steal them.  I understand this and accept that all of my works have been put on pirate and torrent sites.  It's simply a fact of life.  But there are times when the theft is so blatant and obvious that it upsets me.

The reason for the rant.

Amazon's return policy is great for customers.  I'm okay with it sometimes as a writer.  But when someone goes in and buys every book in the Ryallon series and then returns them all at once, it really does make me angry. :(

My book sales for November. "Units Refunded" are the returns. You can see that each of my books of Ryallon has been returned.  Those showed up in the last hour.

Writing is hard work.  I spend countless hours writing, editing and formatting hundreds of thousands of words.  I work full time at it in  addition to working full time to support my family.

There's not much I can do about this other than protest it publicly and to tell Amazon it's wrong.

I give books away for free so people can see if they like my writing.  The books after that are a reasonable price.  Those returns in the chart above aren't from someone who didn't like my writing.  They're from someone who wanted to copy the books and either keep them for themselves, sell them to others, or download them to torrent sites.

I'm angry with Amazon

I accept the thief for a thief.  I have a problem with Amazon being an enabler.  Amazon has everything on their site categorized in countless ways.  It's just as obvious to them as it is to me that someone bought my series of books and returned them, yet they allow it.

I get it.  Amazon puts the customers first and has become Goliath by doing so.  The companies, or struggling individual artists in this case, are simply a tool to accomplish their hunger to become the biggest.  It's a brilliant policy and along the way, they've truly been instrumental in changing the face of publishing.  I've been very fortunate to benefit from this, but I have no illusion any of it was done for my benefit or the benefit of self-published authors like me.

The end result

I'm still going to keep writing books.  I love it and I'm fairly decent at it.  There's not much I can do about piracy other than continue to point out on occasion that it's wrong.  Amazon enabling it in such a way is also wrong, but there's not much I can do about that either.

So that's about it.  I shall take deep breaths and get back to writing the next story.  There's a joy in weaving tales that no pirate or big company will ever be able to take from me.  Even if they someday come and take my computer, my eyes, my fingers and my tongue, the stories will reside in my soul.

So, naner naner.

All my best,

John H. Carroll.


Alicia Quad SUPERSTAR! said...

That bites hard John. Am sorry to hear that Amazon isn't doing anything to help protect against this kind of thing. You are right in that no one can steal your joy. Glad you will continue to do what you love! All the best- Alicia

Anonymous said...

Think of it as people who wouldn't have been willing to buy your books in the first place, so you're not actually losing sales. Instead you're getting free advertising when they tell their paying friends what a great author you are.
(I've bought all your books and tell my friends about them, but sometimes it helps to remember that "pirates" weren't paying customers in the first place.)
And yes, it does suck. People should buy your books.

Anonymous said...

Also, shame on Amazon for making it so easy.