Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Life isn't always tidy


Looking at my list of books sold January 1, where I expected to find a gold bar, which is what you see until a sale appears (I mean sales were good -- for me anyway in December-- with a few much appreciated reviews where people told me, sometimes in emails, how much they enjoyed my books, a sale already was unlikely. I both laughed and growled when I saw why no gold bar.

My bet is the same person who stole 11 of my books in December came back December 28th, ordered one of the two books they hadn't already gotten, waited a couple of days and then asked for the refund. Hence [-1] is what showed up to start off January. I bet it won't be long and they'll have the last one also. Wonder if they will come back for new arrivals. The thefts have been a thorn in my side-- mainly because Amazon lets it happen.

The policy in Amazon is you can get a total refund of any purchase without giving a reason if you ask for it within 7 days. So any reader can order an eBook, read it, or just stash it on their computer and then ask for the refund even if they loved the book. There is no way Amazon can track it down and take it back. They ask no questions nor currently appear to look at how many returns a person has had. Although someone might use different email accounts, it could be tracked -- if Amazon cared.

Basically as one friend said, this kind of thing happens with those who go into a store, buy a big screen TV, watch the Super Bowl, and then return the TV the next day. In their case though they stole usage of the TV or the dress they wore to a big party. The item is returned. It's all dishonest, but in the case of the eBooks, it enables total theft. 

It's been said that you only really know if you are an honest person if you will steal when you know you can get away with it. Amazon is making that possible with their policy most especially where it comes to Kindles. If they only stole the books to read, that's one thing. Not good as it establishes a habit of taking whatever one feels they can get away with but there is another possibility for the thefts.

Some take those books for pirate sites where they give them away, resell them or alter a few words and claim them for their own. Amazon cooperates with that happening and mostly because what's an indie writer to them? What's a theft to them? They might care if it happens to the big publishing houses at the rate with which it happened to me.

It's funny because I give away books. I gave away thousands when I began putting out the eBooks. It was a way to get seen.  It feels different when they are stolen-- partly because it means a dishonest person has that book. If someone is willing to steal to get them, might they do other dishonest things with them?

I had been debating bringing out my Oregon historicals. They wouldn't have been first in 2014 in any case as I have a paranormal novella set for February 1st and a short story in an anthology of western romance writers for the middle of March; but when I do, I am pretty well decided to bring them out only as paperbacks and maybe not even list them on Amazon where they aren't likely to sell many or any. Right now I trust them no more than I do the person who stole the books. They are helping that individual go down a path that may lead to worse. All of life is that way. Actions lead to consequences. When the consequence is it worked, what does that teach?

Every book I write is about that issue of actions --> consequences. I wish I had a way to have the books out there with a company that cared about that philosophy.

The photo is from a path at the trailhead in Catalina State Park. It heads out with signs that clearly state where it's possible to go. Life isn't always so tidy.

13 comments:

Tabor said...

I must be honest because I have never nor would I ever do that. How could one enjoy reading a stolen book? I wonder if my photos have been stolen. The site where I publish them has had photos stolen, but it was an accidental siting by the photographer himself and then telling all of us. I wish you many sales in the new year and hope that Amazon is more honorable.

Rain Trueax said...

Tabor, some photographers go around the images on the Google Image site to look for theirs and definitely they can be stolen. The safest way to acquire photos, such as I use for the trailers and covers, is going to somewhere like CanStock where the photographers put up their own images. Some think anything on Google Images is okay to use-- not so. They warn you it's not but I am sure some disregard it.

One photographer said her images were taken for advertising and she was able to go after them and get some pay but not what they were probably worth. The best idea with putting images anywhere is keep them small and low dpi; so they are hard to use elsewhere.

robin andrea said...

I don't know why it surprises me that Amazon lets people return books up to seven days after purchase. They might as well be a lending library. There must be a way to protect authors from thieves. I wish I knew what it was.

Diane Widler Wenzel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Can you imagine a world without privacy and without ownership? Is this going to be the result of people stealing e-books and the drone surveillance? Is this beginning of the end for greed or will we loose a sense of self? I think "Life isn't always tidy" post is just the beginning of a whole series of topics that I find interesting.

Rain Trueax said...

Some of the answer is people having a sense of ethics. When cheating in schools isn't dealt with strictly enough, it starts people to not figuring out what is right. How many kids today run around the internet to find already written articles taking the chance the teacher will never find they didn't write their own thesis. The home ought to teach ethics. Mine sure did; but when it doesn't, it has to be schools and have they too often given up? Some people take things from where they work without realizing its stealing. I don't have an answer but it's a slippery slope at the least.

Rubye Jack said...

I'm sorry this has happened to you Rain. It must be hard to work hard on something, be proud of your work, and then have it stolen.
However, I am afraid dishonesty is commonplace and I have little faith it will change anytime soon. From our government and financial system to kids in school and on the streets, there is no longer any sense of what is ethical. Those days are gone and it is sad. I'm glad I'm old.

Rain Trueax said...

hey good to see you, Rubye. I have missed your blog. Well there were sales, and likely whoever took them would not have bought them all. My bigger concern is that they got them to use elsewhere. There are methods now though to find the books if they are out there under someone else's name. For all the improvements of technology there are some that benefit us as well as the hacker types.

Ingineer66 said...

That is horrible that people would steal from you. It seems that we have a lot of that going on in this country. People are just out to get whatever they can. It doesn't matter if it is ripping off eBooks or scamming a government program or a frivolous lawsuit against a big company so many people have no sense of right and wrong, they just care about what they can get out of it.

Rain Trueax said...

I think it doesn't help when we overlook small dishonesties as though it's not a big deal or we try to justify why the person stole or cheated on a test or a tax form, whatever it might be. It sets the stage for escalations. Ethics are ethics and too often that isn't being taught or enforced in the home or anywhere. Parents set the first stage for whether the person will be honest or not by how seriously they take any deviation from honesty.

Rain Trueax said...

What's odd on this has been that when I began bringing out the books. I rarely had it happen but this now has gone into the new year and still having books taken and then a couple of days later returned. Amazon is really the reason with their easy return policy-- no questions asked. It doesn't take much to read a book in a week. I have to wonder if it's a group. The forums have a lot of rather odd groups that develop and then go from there to talk privately. It makes me feel like pulling my books and gives me some serious thought about what I want to do with the paranormal novella that I had intended to bring out the first of February. I have to rethink that. :(

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Selfishly, I'm glad that Amazon has such a policy. I recently purchased a book for my kindle, and unbeknownst to me, there were comments from Oprah throughout. I could not bear it. I bought the book one day, went to start reading it a few days later, and discovered the horror. So I returned it, and purchased another version without the comments. Glad it was easy.

Less selfishly, I'm horrified that the policy is enabling people to steal from you. And that you are powerless to do anything about it. Grrr. Most people are honest and normal, and might cheat once in awhile, but don't go out of their way to do so. But then there are those who just suck, and will take whatever opportunity they can to make a buck. Ugh.

Rain Trueax said...

I agree, J. It's good that if someone gets a book and it's riddled with typos or right away hits on a topic that you abhor, that's who the returns should be for. I've thought it'd be nice as a writer to know why the refund was requested but understand the policy is fair. What got me with this is seeing one book or even two in a day go out and know there'd be a refund request in the next day. That cannot be someone who hated the writing as then you get the first refund and go on. I haven't had time to look to see if those books popped up for sale elsewhere-- that's the worst possible end to something like that. I has happened less this month; so maybe whoever it was moved onto the next author ;). I think those who do it too frequently should get tagged by Amazon. I've been learning though about things called sock puppets and phony accounts using separate emails and limited credit cards; so it might be heard to catch.