Here is yet another reason I dislike Amazon. They own Audible. You may have heard of Audible, you might even use it. And if you’ve returned an audio book through Audible I hope you’re going to think twice about doing it again in the future.
When we return purchases to large corporations it is with the expectation that the large corporation will swallow that return and that it won’t affect anyone else. Although, when I return to an eBay seller then it’s the seller that has to refund me. And if I’ve returned an audio book to Audible then the expectation is that this large corporation will just absorb the costs of the return. A few weeks ago I found this is totally not true. Apparently any returns of audio books are taken out of the author’s (or narrator’s, or rights holder’s) pockets.
As you might be aware many authors make precious little money. Many authors must have another form of income in order to pay the bills. In Australia the average author makes around $10,000 per annum. This generally goes into writing the next book. So when Audible funds a return and then takes the money from the author (or the narrator, or the rights holder) then that eats into that small amount of money and makes it harder to have the money to write and publish the next book.
I’m not sure how long Audible has been taking refunds from the authors (or the narrators, or the rights holders) as that’s a little unclear. Apparently Audible have been fudging the paperwork and not showing things like this to the author. I’ve seen screenshots of some paperwork and it looks as if one author has a negative balance of $60, that’s a lot of returned books.
Not only that, but until a week or so ago the reader could return books even if they’d read them completely and had 365 days in order to do so. Audible have recently made a change and returns must be made within 7 days.
What can you do to help?
If you’re an author and you’ve got books listed with Audible you can write and ask for them to account for what you’ve sold and what has been returned. I also suggest you join this Facebook group as many people have already done this and shared their emails in the group. If you’re struggling for neutral language then this is a good place to be. Or if you want to find out more, or just want solidarity. I joined for solidarity. I did expect I wouldn’t be allowed in as I’m a book blogger rather than an author but the person in charge recognised me and admitted me.
If you’re a reader and you’re registered with Audible then I suggest you look at how they advertise their returns. It used to be the first option a reader had when contacting Audible about a problem. Speak to friends with Audible accounts and make sure they understand what’s happening when/if they return books. You can even write to Audible expressing your concern about their returns policies.
Whether you’re a writer, reader or anything else you can read these two blog posts made by Susan May. I’ve written about her in the past as she’s an excellent writer. She writes in the horror genres, but I don’t think she could have imagined the horror this could have caused to authors (or the narrators, or the rights holders), I don’t think even she could have managed to write about the horror and pain this could have caused. Both articles are a little lengthy, but well worth reading. This is the first article Audiblegate! The incredible true story of missing sales and here is the second article Audiblegate 2: The Emperor’s New Clothes Policy, Pot Theory, Unicorns & Pirates. Share these two articles everywhere you want.