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Old 12-06-2020, 02:12 PM   #1
DNSB
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Audible return policy under attack

I'd heard about some authors complaining about Audible's return policy. Now I've run into an item on thebookseller.com entitled: Authors Guild demands changes to Audible's returns policy and the link in that item to Sign Our Letter and Tell Audible to Stop Charging Authors for Returns.

I do have one acquaintance who has been using this to listen to multiple audiobooks for no cost. As she said, "no one is being hurt."
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Old 12-06-2020, 03:17 PM   #2
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A bit late the AG joining in.
Others already got "changes" implemented.
Whether enough to get Audible off the hook is questionable at best.
This is not the first time they're created a mess.

https://www.thebookseller.com/news/a...anuary-1226744
(Mostly paywalled.)

Quote:

Audible has announced an alteration to its returns policy, following an open letter signed by over 10,000 authors and industry representatives calling for it to make changes.

From 1st January 2021, the company will pay royalties to authors for any title returned more than seven days following purchase. The company currently deducts royalties from authors’ and narrators’ accounts when a purchased audiobook is returned or exchanged within a year.
Not paywalled:


https://www.theguardian.com/books/20...yalties-amazon

Quote:

On 24 November, Audible responded, saying the system “allow[s] listeners to discover” audiobooks and “take a chance on new content”. It said it did limit the number of exchanges and refunds allowed and claimed that “suspicious activity is extremely rare”.

Audible said it would change its policy to pay royalties to authors for any title returned more than seven days after purchase, rather than within 365 days. But writers believe the change does not go far enough.

“We believe Audible’s change in policy has been a poorly considered response to serious concerns by rights holders who collectively have lost, and continue to lose, possibly millions each month from this programme, which only benefits Audible,” May said. “Until Audible supplies returns data in a transparent and timely manner we can’t know our losses and authors have their doubts very much will change in our favour.”
Not everybody is out with pitchforks and torches There actually is a more detached case.
Not saying I buy the argument, but it might explain how audible got themselves into the mess.

Not necessarily ill intent but rather incompentence.

https://www.thepassivevoice.com/audi...ed-discussion/

Quote:


DIGITAL PURCHASES. The problem with all of this, which is exacerbated by the timeline, is that it is a digital product with no degradation from a return. It’s not “used” in that sense, just that potentially the buyer already got the benefit from it. Audible wants to give them the right to return something up to a year after they bought it. Which all the authors then say, “Well sure, you’ve listened to it by then, and NOW you want to return it?”. Putting it squarely in group (e). Bought, used, returned.

Except the authors are wrong. Sure, there will be people in that category, as there are for lots of industries, and for those people, it is similar to a subscription / all you can eat buffet. But market research puts it in the 5% category as legitimate purchasers (not pirates) believe it is wrong. They feel like they would be cheating, so they don’t do it. Pirates and pseudo pirates would, but they’re a small percentage and don’t really represent lost sales. They aren’t going to buy anyway. Would/could it increase? Sure.

But the real question is *why* would Audible want to offer that length of time instead of 1m, 3m, etc.? It puts no money in their pocket and actually costs them money to do it. Every business model out there (except two) would tell them this is a bad idea.

One exception to that general limitation on returns is the “lifetime guarantee” or “extended warranty”. Sears in Canada used to have their “satisfaction guaranteed” promise and the best story I ever heard was a refrigerator that crapped out after 20 years, the guy tried to get it fixed, couldn’t get the parts, and the STORE TOOK IT BACK SINCE HE WASN’T SATISFIED. He didn’t even ASK for it, they just did it. Of course, small differential in price to buy the new one, but that was their model. About 6 years ago, I returned a tablet within a 2-year warranty and they gave me the full original cost back because none of their current tablets had the same features to give me a replacement.

The new “disrupted” exception is digital purchases. Since there is nothing to repackage, check for defects, etc., it is 100% resellable (although not really since it is just a digital copy anyway). There is no added cost to the returns. So why would Audible embrace this model for long returns? Because the buyer isn’t using the product right away.

If you look at the number of books bought for Kindles the day after Xmas, another example, people load them up. Dozens of books. Do they read them all in a month? Nope. Some they might not get to for several months. Or perhaps never.

Audible is identical. People buy several books, and might take up to a year to get to listen to them. Perhaps they buy four books in a series so they can listen to them. And after partway through Book 1, they realize they really don’t like them. This puts it SQUARELY back in category (d poor performance). And for Books 2-4, those are more like category (b a gift they didn’t want).

Now, well after the purchase time, the reader/listener is sitting there with multiple books they don’t want, they bought in advance, and now they want to return them. More than 6m after they bought them. If it was paper, they probably couldn’t normally because too much time had passed.

If they can’t return them, what do listeners do? They stop buying in bulk. They buy 1 book now, and they wait until it is finished before buying the others. THIS is why Audible wants to offer the return. So that people will keep buying well in advance knowing that they might not read it for several months. And if they get to book 3 and find they don’t like the series anymore, they can return it.

Audible knows that if they don’t accept the returns, sales will go down in the short-term. People won’t binge buy. It’s part of the reason Kindle sales die off after a short while. Yet one of the other questions is why doesn’t Amazon offer it for ebooks?

In short, because the lead time from purchase to reading ebooks isa bout the same as it is for paper books, no differential. Audio books though tend to have strong purchasing from really busy people looking to timeshift their listening (commutes, workouts), and with COVID, many of them are NOT getting through their audio books as fast as they used to with commutes and gyms eliminated.

Audible is doing it because they’re tryign to keep buyers buying at sales and promotions, and buying in advance generally, not just when they run out of the previous one.

I agree there’s an issue of transparency, as there is in EVERY CORNER OF PUBLISHING, but there isnt’ a scandal here except that once again, a bunch of writers/authors are trying to tell you they are “artistes”, not business people making widgets that can be returned.
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Old 12-06-2020, 05:27 PM   #3
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Why not, "If the book is bought but not downloaded you have one year to return it. However, once it has been downloaded you have two days to return it."

Heck, they could even make the "not yet downloaded" return period indefinite for all it matters.

This would support binge buying in advance - and gifting - and buying a series on promo, testing it out, and returning later books if the series is bad - and also put the brakes on unethical "buy, consume completely, return" behavior.

I don't have Audible, do you even "download" the books? Or are they played online? Whatever ... they should be able to track whether you have accessed the contents of the book (via download or online streaming) and start the return clock ticking.
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Old 12-06-2020, 06:45 PM   #4
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I'm not sure how popular it is but I did some searching and found quite a few references giving details on how to return audiobooks. I don't have Audible but evidently, people are purchasing the books, listening to them, leaving reviews and then returning them and giving advice on how-to.

The acquaintance I mentioned in the first message uses excuses such as being retired and on a limited income to justify the practice though she was under the impression that the authors were still being paid.

As for odd returns, the funniest one I heard of was Eaton's accepting the return of a Kenmore cookware set when the customer insisted she had purchased them at Eaton's. A bit strange since Kenmore was a Sears house brand.
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Old 12-07-2020, 08:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DNSB View Post
I'm not sure how popular it is but I did some searching and found quite a few references giving details on how to return audiobooks. I don't have Audible but evidently, people are purchasing the books, listening to them, leaving reviews and then returning them and giving advice on how-to.

The acquaintance I mentioned in the first message uses excuses such as being retired and on a limited income to justify the practice though she was under the impression that the authors were still being paid.

As for odd returns, the funniest one I heard of was Eaton's accepting the return of a Kenmore cookware set when the customer insisted she had purchased them at Eaton's. A bit strange since Kenmore was a Sears house brand.
Some people can be pretty brazen about "gaming the system", or what I would call ripping off companies. They tend to screw things up for everyone else.
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Old 12-07-2020, 01:34 PM   #6
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pay royalties to authors for any title returned more than seven days following purchase.
Absolutely pathetic.

There should be NO returns on any Kindle eBook or Audible audio book unless it's proved to be not of merchantable quality. If Amazon wants a more flexible policy, then Amazon should pay, not the Author or publisher.

You can't return CDs, Cassettes or Vinyl in any shop I've known unless it's physically defective.

Amazon all along have abused their power, and this isn't enough!

Also why almost another month?

It's a disgrace.
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Old 12-07-2020, 01:38 PM   #7
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I'm not sure how popular it is but I did some searching and found quite a few references giving details on how to return audiobooks. I don't have Audible but evidently, people are purchasing the books, listening to them, leaving reviews and then returning them and giving advice on how-to.
Recently Amazon has even been promoting Exchange, as if it's a library they are running. Yet here real libraries BUY the original and pay a per loaned royalty. Amazon was promoting a system where Amazon got paid for one copy and potentially no supplier got paid ever.
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Old 12-07-2020, 01:39 PM   #8
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Absolutely pathetic.

There should be NO returns on any Kindle eBook or Audible audio book unless it's proved to be not of merchantable quality. If Amazon wants a more flexible policy, then Amazon should pay, not the Author or publisher.
The publishers forced the Agency agreements on Amazon. If those agreements allow for this, whose fault is it?
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Old 12-08-2020, 12:54 PM   #9
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I didn't agree. You mean some dominant (clueless?) publishers privately agreed it with Amazon, who apply it to everyone?

I'd rather NEVER set a retail price, but set the price that Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Google, Kobo and Barnes & Noble pay, just like for selling anything else to any retailer. Then the retailer can sell at any price, allow infinite returns, anything, as long as I get MY full price from the retailer for every copied ordered. It's also their problem if they lose a copy in transit or it's not actually downloaded. See also Gift cards and book tokens. The buyer pays the full price even if the end user never redeems it.

Why should Amazon set the conditions? Supplier is supposed to set price to retailer.
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Old 12-08-2020, 02:29 PM   #10
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I didn't agree.
Your agreement with Amazon doesn't allow them to do this?
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Old 12-09-2020, 10:50 AM   #11
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What I mean is that only some big publishers were involved. Acceptance of Amazon's T&C or go away is not negotiating an agreement. They are abusing their market dominance.
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