The blog of author Harper Alexander

Return of The…What?

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Something that annoys me (and honestly is just as bemusing as it is annoying), is a certain quirk I’ve discovered lately pertaining to Amazon KDP customers.  Many of you will be familiar with the fact that Amazon KDP offers a program you can enroll your titles in that allows you to run ‘free promotions’ of your e-books.  This is something I’ve taken to doing, lately, to gain a little bit of publicity.  So far, in most respects, it’s a really cool avenue.  I really don’t have many complaints, as my fans, sales, and reviews have only benefited from enrolling.  I run a free promotion, score a bunch of downloads, watch my titles move up in the sales ranks, and then sit back and smile at the thought of the publicity I’ve just secured that will lead to a number of sales after the free promotion has ended.

But then something a little disgruntling happens (I love that word: disgruntling.  It’s kind of a crack-up).  There are always a few of those free download ‘customers’ who go and return the title that they have downloaded.  No one likes to go and check their sales report and see a number greater than ‘0’ under the column Units Returned.  Every time I do, my heart does a little betrayed flop.  Then I remember: it was only a free download return.  I didn’t lose anything, and it wasn’t some invested customer that then decided the thing didn’t live up to their hopes or expectations.  And, somehow, it just doesn’t seem to count as a legitimate return if it was merely a free download, rather than a sale.  I don’t know, I just find that reassuring somehow.  But THEN I remember: Wait a minute – it was only a free download.  And that begs the question: why in the world are they bothering to return it?

Granted, many more people than might normally read your book will probably be willing to give it a shot if it’s free, so you run the risk of a bigger number not finding your work to their liking, in which case you can expect some rejection.  But the thing is free.  Why are these people returning free b0oks?  What’s the point?  It isn’t as if they lost anything downloading it, because it’s free, with free delivery.  It seems like more work to return it than it would be worth, because returning it isn’t worth anything.  If they don’t like it, why not just…not read it?  Delete it?

And this seems to happen every free promotion.  Usually it’s only one little unit, but occasionally it’s two.  Am I missing something?  Is there a point to this?  Are these just ‘free-download’ trolls, trying to mess with my self-esteem one measly free-download-return at a time?  I just don’t get it.  Why go to the trouble?  What compels these people to return something that was free?  Did they just dislike it so much that they had to make a statement?  (Somehow, I find that particular scenario a little bit unlikely.)

So what gives?


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