Today is going to be an angry post, because there is something going on in the indie world that is currently unacceptable and coming very close to royalty fraud (well, allegedly, so I won’t get sued). I am here to talk to readers that favour audiobooks about Audible’s new return policy. And make no mistake this is a RETURN policy, not the “exchange” that Audible is currently and actively promoting.
And this is the problem.
When you return an audible audiobook, you are not just “exchanging” the book you read for a new one. You are remitting that first sale, and buying another book with your credit. So what does that mean to the authors and narrators trying to make back the hundreds of dollars in costs they invested in the creation of that audiobook?
It means they don’t get paid for their hard work.
Because this is what happens when you, the reader, “exchanges” a book: Audible takes back the royalty it paid us (which is 40% if you are exclusive with them, less if you are not). That means for every return we owe them money. And the kicker is they still have their 60% of that sale/membership fees lining their pockets. What’s worse, this return policy is valid on a purchase for a full year!
Now does this mean you should never return Audible audiobooks? No, of course not. If there is a legitimate reason for the return such as you didn’t like the book, it wasn’t what you thought, the narrator annoyed you, etc. then by all means, return it. That is your right as a consumer. But please, please DO NOT return an audiobook just to get another free book (as tempting as that may be). If you do, you increase the chances the author of that returned audiobook will not be able to AFFORD to make more audiobooks.
Authors and narrators deserve to be fairly compensated for their work. Please do not support this policy that is taking royalties away from creators.
For more information, and a better explanation check out Writer Beware: https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2020/11/audiblegate-how-audible-acx-returns.html
Or check out this wonderful video:
There is also a petition you can sign to protest this policy: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/sign-our-letter-and-tell-audible-to-stop-charging-authors-for-returns
UPDATE: ACX (the audiobook creation/distribution arm of Audible/Amazon) has sent out a statement saying they will now honour author royalties on returns after 7 days. Meaning authors will get paid on any audiobooks returned after a week’s time. Now this is encouraging, but it still remains to be seen if they will follow through on this, or delay it, or obfuscate on this change in Audible’s ridiculous return policy. And this does not mitigate the fact Audible is still implementing this policy and messing with an author’s right of sale (not right of lending or exchanging). Too many companies are currently trying to mess with author agreements and contracts to get out of paying us for our hard work. Short term it hurts the author’s ability to earn money and publish. Long term it will drive writers away from publishing. Speak up and voice your opinion. Save the future of books.
Here is the full statement of ACX: https://blog.acx.com/author/theacxteam/
And another video about the update