This subject usually generates a lot of discussion among the indie author community and the debate can sometimes be heated. Refunded ebooks are not something I think about as I focus on writing more material. But when I do get a book returned I often wonder the reason behind it.
For every hundred books I sell I usually get one return. When my book was at a cheaper price this figure was higher, suggesting my books were often bought on impulse. The number of negative reviews I received was also higher, again suggesting impulse purchasers with customers failing to read the sample chapter.
The last two words of the previous sentence holds the vital clue to why this debate continues to rage. Authors argue the sample chapter is crucial when deciding whether to buy a book. After all, if you were in a physical bookstore you'd be daft just to buy a book blindly without flicking through a few pages first. And although you cannot physically do that while online you can read the sample that's on offer.
So why can customers request a refund from Amazon if they do not like the book? Smashwords does not operate this policy because they state this is the reason for the sample chapter. People can read a book in a day but Amazon will accept refunds for the following seven days, giving its readers ample opportunity to read the book and then return it.
But people argue they accidentally purchase books all the time. I think that if an honest, genuine mistake was made then a refund should be allowed, providing the return happens in the same day. But I think a week is far too long for refunds to be accepted. What kind of message does that send out?
If people were allowed to ask for a refund every time they watched a film at their local cinema which they didn't like, the film industry would be in dire straights. I can't actually remember the last time I paid to see a film that I actually enjoyed. That's why I no longer go to the cinema these days, especially as the prices are not cheap. Again, this is another argument against refunded ebooks. Most ebooks are so cheap it's almost petty to go to the trouble of receiving a refund. Sometimes free ebooks are refunded which I think is mind boggling.
But from another angle I suppose I'd rather a refund than a negative review. As far as I'm aware refunds do not affect your book's ranking like reviews do. If customers weren't allowed a refund they might be more inspired to write a scathing review instead. And refunds are more of a private issue too. Nobody views the refunded figures except the author, whereas a bad review is on show for the whole world to see.
So, what's your perspective on refunded ebooks?