Our porn novel, The Whites Next Door, has always outsold our other offerings. But young readers have gotten smart. Buy the book; copy it; then ask for a refund. From zero refunds in the previous 12 months, we've already had four refunds this April.
Refunds are given for various reasons. From what I've been seeing Amazon has been working on fraudulent refunds. The problem is that they also have to make it easy for customers to make legitimate refunds.
You will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why a refund was given. As with all retailers and distributors, we as publishers and self-published authors have given Amazon the right to make the final decision concerning refunds.
I handle both print and digital through my publishing company. Traditional distributors quote a return rate of 20%, as to what they expect returned from retailers for any number of reasons. Now I don't have a 20% return on print books, but it does appear to be a standard bench mark used in the industry. This is why many Print on Demand (POD) publishers don't allow returns and why retailers don't carry many POD published authors.
This month, as of April 27 2009, in Kindle books alone I sold 151 titles and have had 3 returns. That is a return rate of 2%. I can live with a 2% return rate. You can't micro manage every last detail of the life cycle of your titles. Once it's in distribution we are governed by the return policies of our distributors. You have to realize that they are just as concerned about fraudulent returns as we are, since they loose their profits as well. In the case of Amazon they are loosing 65% of the retail price for every refund, rather the return is fraudulent or a justified return.
As a publisher or self-publisher author we can't be seen as hostile towards our readers. Look at how poorly the record industry did when they started suing individuals. Now iTunes has removed all copyright security measures from music downloaded, just to boost sales.
It appears to me that many self-published authors are using Amazon Kindle as their only distributor. The more distributors you use the more your sales will increase and a slow month from one distributor will not hurt your bottom line.
In the month of April 2009, I sold 1,315 books & of those I had 29 refunds. That is 2.2% refund rate...or to put it a better rate 97.8% of the people who bought my books were happy with their purchase. Those numbers work for me.
One BIG thing to watch for is customer feedback, I have 80+ titles & I check them all every day or two for feedback, If something is wrong, I fix it.
Good Luck Everybody.