Monday Musings: The Case Of The DNF

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Oooooh this post will surely ruffle some feathers, but you know me, I gotta speak on it so here goes:

  1. Should books be returnable items?
  2. Should readers be allowed to review books that they’ve admittedly did not finish or returned?

I will be the first to admit that I’ve returned a book or two in my time. They either offended me on some level, or the writing was just so bad that I considered it a defective item and returned it. Did I feel guilty? Hell nah. I felt at the time that I didn’t get my money’s worth so I was justified in returning it. That was until I came across a Facebook thread where a lot of authors bemoaned:

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My immediate reaction:

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But then I went back and really read some of the comments, and the authors were saying things like Amazon shouldn’t allow returns once their book is purchased, I’m losing income blah, blah, blah…But then there was one comment that gave me pause, and that was something to the effect of “I consider returned books theft of intellectual property”… Hmmm…

How is returning a partially-read book theft of intellectual property any different than receiving an ARC, which I could easily manipulate and pass off as my own or sell to the highest bidder? Or are they considered two different things when one is purchased and the other gifted? I’m just thinking out loud at this point, but I get it though. I see both sides of the coin.

As a consumer, if I spend my money on something that doesn’t deliver what sold me on it in the first place, am I not entitled to get my money back? Writing a critical review is an alternate solution (But who really takes reviews that seriously? If you wanna read it, you’ll buy it anyway right?), but why should an author be rewarded by getting to keep my hard-earned dollars?

As an author, I’d be hella pissed too because yeah, a returned book affects not only my bottom line, but my sales rankings and visibility, not to mention the mental or emotional toll it must take on you when you see the ratio of sales vs. returns.

I’d like to hear some other opinions on this. I haven’t returned a book in a long while, but my Kindle graveyard sure is growing. I could buy a new pair of boots if I could return some all of those books.

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16 thoughts on “Monday Musings: The Case Of The DNF

  1. I never thought that returning a book was an option. If I do not like a book or it was a DNF, I would say that in my review. I make sure to say that I do not recommend reading the book for _____ (then list the reasons).
    I think that I try to be diplomatic because I can understand that authors might see their books with the same emotional attachment as their children. That being said, if they need a new story line or a decent editor, they need to know that too.

  2. I don’t generally return books but I would if it was so poorly written/edited that I couldn’t get through it. That I would definitely feel is a defective product. If I simply didn’t enjoy it I just chalk it up to being burned. I will DNF though. There was a time where I would force myself to push through something that I just wasn’t enjoying. But now there is so much on my wish list that I have finally given myself permission to just walk away from a story that I am not enjoying. As a general rule when I DNF I won’t give a star rating but I will sometimes leave a brief review/opinion on Goodreads or my blog about why I couldn’t finish it. There have been quite a few books that I just quietly put down and backed away from!

  3. As a reader, I’ve hated some books and thought they were horrendous. I simply didn’t finish them and they are forever buried in the Kindle graveyard. I’ve read some books that were plain awful, BUT I reviewed them because there was a sliver of hope somewhere in the mess. In all my time of reading indie books, I’ve only one-starred a book once and I wrote a review. I felt the author needed to know why. People loved the book. Comments on my review state: “Well, that part was bad BUT… it gets better.” There was no turning point for me. It was just bad. I wouldn’t dream of returning a book regardless of how bad it is. I took a chance, I wasn’t satisfied, I read the product, end of story. I know what author not to buy from again.

    Regarding posting reviews on a DNF. Sure, I think it’s absolutely okay to tell the author where you stopped and what didn’t work for you, it can help when writing. It’s constructive critique. What’s not cool? Writing a review saying you didn’t finish, you returned the book, and people should skip it. Huh?

    Oh yes, that’s happened to me. I’m okay if you hate my work. Shit happens and everything isn’t for everyone, but to tell people not to buy someone’s work based on your opinion? One lone person’s opinion? No. And then admit you returned the book? *deep breaths*

    What works for one person won’t work for another and vice versa but to warn someone away from an author’s work is not cool imo. I get that not all customers will be satisfied but I would never dream of telling someone else not to purchase a product based on my opinion. That’s just me. *shrug*

    As an author, I’m okay with people returning a book if they accidentally purchased it. However, say you read over 50% of a book or the whole dang thing and then return it? Hell no. This angers me more than anything. You want to borrow a book, that’s what the library is for, that’s what Kindle Unlimited is for. I think my comment may be the one you reference in your post 😁. To me, it is theft of intellectual property. You’ve read over half of someone’s work and then you decide, no thanks? What do I get? Can I reach into your head and take back what you’ve read?

    Amazon can track how many pages are read but refuse to tell people, “Well, you’ve read over half this book and you want a return now for a full refund? That doesn’t seem fair.” What if Amazon returned a percentage of money based on what you read? People would be pissed about that too. See how that works?

    Point is, people can do what they want with their money but if you buy an e-book and you have SEVEN days to return it, that’s bull. I get that not everyone reads what they buy immediately but Amazon’s current system isn’t in place to appease authors. It’s consumer driven and it’s absolutely unfair. There needs to be a happy medium for readers and authors. Maybe 48 hours for a return. Maybe half the price of the payment returned. Considering I don’t return e-books, this wouldn’t bother me. Something needs to be in place because people do treat Amazon like a library and read and return on a frequent basis.

    Now if Amazon publicly flagged those accounts, life would be grand. People do get warnings but they just make another account. 😠

    1. I was waiting for your response, and you did not disappoint lol. I love getting different perspectives” on the “elephant in the room” issues. I’m still very torn about this, but KU has been a godsend for me. I don’t feel as guilty now for returning unfinished books. I still don’t review books that I don’t actually finish, but like Monlatable, I will state on my GR feed why I didn’t.

  4. Except for THAT ONE HOT MESS OF A BOOK I returned a couple of years ago (it had to GO!), I don’t return books. I figure if I walk into a bookstore and buy a book, I wouldn’t return it if I didn’t like it, nor would the bookstore be happy to see me. The Internet provides a certain level of anonymity where folks feel they won’t be found out, and online retailers want return business, so flagging an account just isn’t going to happen. However, since Amazon is tracking pages read – and they’re doing it to non-KU books too – the return option should automatically be turned off once the reader reaches a certain percentage, even if it’s still within within seven days of purchase. There would still be abusers, but not those who actually read most or all of the book.

    That being said, my DNF list becomes a ‘Do Not Buy From Again…Ever’ list. How many times must I hit my head before I realize it hurts?

    The flipside of that is why are people returning books? Because they can? Are they truly that bad/poorly written/poorly edited/offensive? It’s all relative to the individual reader. THAT ONE HOT MESS OF A BOOK that I didn’t even want in my archives, much less on my Kindle, actually has a few decent reviews even though just seeing the author’s name gives me a facial twitch! :p

  5. I do return sometimes if the storyline consist of rape and child molestation that’s something I can’t finished. Also if the story is left on a cliffhanger and the author doesn’t tell you that’s the ish I don’t like and will hit refund in a minute. Thankful for the KU very useful resource so I use it often.

  6. I haven’t returned a book ever. But sometimes I wished I had because it was that damn bad. My issue is I have a problem when authors rant about people returning books because honestly most times we don’t know why someone really truly returned it. But a book should be like any other product, if I didn’t enjoy it…I should be able to return it without feeling like I stole something. People return things for the most craziest of reasons, why should books be any different? I resent readers being calling a theif because they eturned something they didn’t enjoy. Far as the DNF issue go, if you are a reviewer or blogger, yes…I agree you should simply state what didn’t work for you cos, everything ain’t for everybody. But do we have to hear from every reader that didn’t finish a book? seriously though?…You telling me that every author is going to check Amazon/BN/whomever to see what customer posted a DNF, nah…i don’t believe it.

    But it seems in the romance community, the littlest thing will piss a author or reader off…its getting kind of petty out here it these romance streets of late.

    1. “seems in the romance community, the littlest thing will piss a author or reader off…its getting kind of petty out here it these romance streets of late.”

      Truth!! People get in their feelings if they even THINK you didn’t like their book or their fave author’s book.

  7. The only books I’ve ever returned are those I bought in error. And that’s only happened 2-3x tho. Sometimes my 1-click finger gets trigger happy for something I’m just perusing. In those cases, I didn’t even open the book before returning it. If I buy a book, read it…even just a portion of it, then it’s mine. Returning a book after reading every last page is not cool. To me, it’s no different than buying a dress, wearing it to your company’s Christmas party, getting your dance on all night, then returning it. They have samples of books to get a feel of the writing before you 1-click for a reason.

    If a book was so bad that I regret spending money on it (lack of editing, objectionable content, etc), I probably won’t buy that author’s work ever again. My DNF list is fairly short — perhaps because if I spent money on a book, then I want to read it to the end to feel like my money wasn’t wasted. With KU, I feel less inclined to suffer through a book to the end that I’m not enjoying. The author gets paid for the pages I did read (however nominal that amount may be) so it’s a win-win. I will write a “soft” review explaining what didn’t work for me and why I DNF’d, but no stars.

  8. I have return books in the past because of horrible grammar, editing and negative image of black women. I only purchase paperback, but I have recently started to buy ebooks for my personal computer via kindle app from amazon. After being twice bitten by dubious writing of some authors. I discovered this blog site, and romance junkie insight is truly helpful to this reader.

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