99CentBooks01I used to blog about the horrific devaluing job on books accomplished by (among others) John Locke and Amanda Hocking. 99 cents for a novel is a crying shame.

As a promo price? For a short story? For a crappy book?


But that’s not what this post is about. I recently ran a 99 cent promo for a couple of days, to get my Amazonian algorithms energized again. I made it to # 93 on the overall Amazon Paid Bestseller List, Top Ten in Thrillers (#6), and four days later am still hanging in there at #695 overall. Made my advertising payout back PLUS several hundred on the bump to my other books.

A good investment.

But that’s still not what this blog is about.

On the statistics page, it shows that eight people RETURNED their 99 cent purchase. 99 cents. It literally cost them more to correct the mistake than to just read the book or live with their self-hatred for purchasing it, stifle their regret, and smack themselves in the skull figuring they could have had a small sip of V8.

But to go through the process of returning 99 cents worth of digital bits and bytes? Even just the effort to click the “oops, didn’t mean to purchase” button and follow the procedure of returning what was already downloaded?

It’s a Kindle book. You’re subscribed to a Kindle deal email list. You read Kindle books. You just downloaded and then returned a book that cost less than a toothbrush (and not even a nice one).

What kind of chucklehead are you?

penniesIf I saw 99 cents worth of change scattered in a car wash I wouldn’t get my jeans wet to pick up the coins.

If 99 pennies fell from heaven I’d shake my fist to the sky and curse Bing Crosby and Steve Martin.

What is the matter with the people populating this country? I’ve just about had all I can take. People eating Vick’s Vapor Rub, their own cats fallen fur, and toenail clippings.


Duck Dynasties.

The Kardashians.

boo-boo+juneHoney Boo-Boo, for God’s sake, and a mother with a thumb for a head (and we, as Americans, are proud to EXPORT that fat little mongrel to I don’t know how many other countries).

Hey, World, take a look what we make HERE!

In a strange way it almost makes returning a 99 cent digital novel seem normal. Or at least average.

It’s a short blog, what can I say? I’m embarrassed for us as a nation.

Honey Boo-boo.

I’m actually starting to feel proud of the dipsticks who returned the 99 cent books. At least they knew how to follow directions.

jesus-nazareth-235I had a dream the other night that Jesus himself came down and wanted to check out what had become of the world. It was really hard to see, but through the fog and lightning and darkness I could have sworn I heard Honey Boo Boo laughing. Then the storm receded and the sun broke through the bulbous, purple clouds, and I saw it was Jesus in hysterics.

He didn’t stick around long and I do recall now that after the laughter also receded the expression on his face couldn’t put a veneer over his disappointment. Maybe it was supposed to be the Second Coming but he just decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. He just faded away and all that was left was the nauseating feeling that the joke was on us.

He never did say a word, so I don’t know if he was laughing with us or at us.

To be honest, I was afraid to ask.


The blank page is dead…long live the blank page.


Author known to use spontaneous satire, sarcasm, and unannounced injections of pith or witticisms which may not be suitable for humorless or otherwise jest-challenged individuals. (Witticisms not guaranteed to be witty, funny, comical, hilarious, clever, scintillating, whimsical, wise, endearing, keen, savvy, sagacious, penetrating, fanciful, or otherwise enjoyable. The Surgeon General has determined through laboratory testing that sarcasm can be dangerous, even in small amounts, and should not be ingested by those who are serious, somber, pensive, weighty, funereal, unsmiling, poker-faced, sober, or pregnant.)


12 Responses to What Thumbhead Returns A 99 Cent Book?

  1. Ryan Schneider says:

    This is an interesting issue, Rob, particularly from a psychological standpoint.

    The first time someone bought and returned one of my stories priced at $0.99, I was a bit dismayed.

    At first I was a bit pissed.

    Then I felt bad for being pissed; perhaps this is someone with a limited or fixed income, someone down on his or her luck, someone hit hard by the anemic economy.

    Then I thought that perhaps it’s someone who is simply a cheapskate. Someone who goes to a restaurant, eats two-thirds of their meal, yanks a hair out of his or her head, drops it into the food, and then calls the server and complains, thereby garnering two-thirds of a free meal.

    Then, after about 90 seconds, I thought Who cares?

    Because there’s simply no way to know who this person is or why they returned the book. Perhaps they didn’t enjoy the story and the return was their own private protest.

    Okay. Whatever.

    Each of us is entitled to our opinion. Not everybody has the same taste. There are plenty of books and movies people love but which simply did not work for me. Conversely, there are plenty of books and movies I adore but other people think are crap. There’s simply no accounting for taste. Busby Berkeley isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some folks are more of a “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” type. Yet both are Steve Martin vehicles.

    I therefore choose to focus on two things:
    1. The overwhelmingly large number of people who did NOT return my book, no matter what it was priced;

    2. The overwhelmingly large number of people who DID enjoy the read. Positivity begets positivity. Let the naysaying dream killing energy vampires alone; I refuse to get brought down by them.

    Sorry I’ve gone on a bit.

    Keep writing.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Hey, Ryan. Thanks for the thoughful insight, as usual. Mostly on this one I just wanted to use a little humor to let off a tad of curious steam, but there was a little perturbedness, so it’s fair to dissect the possible reasons (even though the blog did rather quickly devolve into a rant about the state of our country/world). 🙂

      The only one of your scenarios on which I find myself opposite-sided is the “poor person” answer. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Heck, I’d have given it to them if 99 cents meant that much AND they wanted to read my book.

      On the rest, I agree totally, of course. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      (On Honey Boo Boo, though, I stand my ground.)

  2. Gdub says:

    Thoroughly enjoyable. Jesus laughed. I laughed. I would love to return Bill O’Reilly’s POS Killing JFK and get my money back, but a 99c book, nah. Not even his.

  3. Lyn Sofras says:

    Delightful post – I giggled through your wrath, but you are absolutely right to be annoyed and amazed. This cult of returning e-books is an ever-growing problem (at least in the US – it doesn’t seem to have caught on so much in the UK yet – thank goodness!)

    In the name of improved customer services, Amazon really should make people explain the reason for their return. I think they should also tighten up their policies. (One of my little-known titles which hardly sold at all in the US, hence was easy to track, was returned after 21 days. Three whole weeks! How can that be justified?)

    I hope you feel better now that you’ve vented spleen and would also like to reiterate Ryan’s words about the huge number of happy readers you have who far outweigh these miserable cheapskates. Onwards and upwards. Keep up the good work.

    PS Should I be worried that I don’t know who Honey Boo Boo is and can you be quite sure Jesus was laughing at human (or Amazon’s) folly and not advertising a new teeth-whitening product?

    • rsguthrie says:

      Thanks, Lyn. Your response brightened my day (and I was already having a pretty good one, thank you Emiril’s Big Easy Bold coffee). 😀

      To answer your question, if you never hear the name Honey Boo Boo again, you’ve been blessed my child, and I now believe Jesus is smiling because there are STILL Americans who have not heard of her. I guess I just answered both your questions (but I was going to go with teeth-cleaning product).

      Have a great Thursday and thanks again for the comment AND the encouraging words. 🙂

      • Ryan Schneider says:

        For the record, I didn’t know who Honey Boobie Boobo is, either. But then Taliya and I live in Israel so we’re spared a lot of the mainstream crap masquerading as entertainment in the States. Although, I’m pretty sure everyone’s TV/cable/satellite remote has an OFF button.

        • rsguthrie says:

          I don’t watch Honey Boo Boo (a spin-off from the Toddlers in Tiaras show where they dress up 4-year-olds like whores and their parents scream at them and berate them and make them do near-pornographic moves, dances, etc. Honey Boo Boo and her thumbheaded mother were the worst of the worst so of course they gave them their OWN show ). So I’m not complaining about watching it (I know where both my off AND record button are), I’m saying it scares me when it’s so popular with those who CHOOSE to watch it AND that other countries want it exported. End times, my friend, end times.

          (In fact I only know about Boo Boo and the other show because I watch a half-hour comedy program called The Soup with Joe McHale where McHale shows clips and basically mourns the same forsaken times we find ourselves in that 1) People like this exist, by the millions, and 2) “Normal” people watch their shows.)

          Plus, it was just a humorous blog. I don’t lie awake nights or spending a minute out of any day truly worry about any of this. Well maybe one.

          • Lyn Sofras says:

            Ah! Enlightenment dawns (or am I just dazzled by Jesus’ sparkling teeth?) I live in the UK hence my ignorance of Honey Boo Boo – BUT – yes I have heard of that awful programme – just never watched it – and now I never will. So thanks RS – you are a saviour!
            Lyn xx

  4. Jon says:

    Tell me about it. Logging in, tracking down the areas to return a 99 cents book LOL.


    Fact is, the world is full of FREELOADERS!

    Even more so in the world of books

    If anything that annoys me its the conversations that takes place on the kindle forum. I stopped going there as the places oozes “How can I get as many books out there, no matter how crap they are.”

    Every idiot and his dog is trying to jump on the book band wagon.

    I’m all for having a dream, writing books and hopefully making a living from it but not to the point that we are just shoveling crap out the door to feed the 99 cent refunders.

    Honey boo boo child is a good reflection of the way life has gone down the drain.

    People wonder why Jesus hasn’t come back. Why would he? LOL He was probably happy to get the hell out of here in the first place.

    • rsguthrie says:

      Amen. The worst part about the decline of this country is the fact that no one sees it. Or they turn a blind eye. It’s ridiculous. But I’d still take freedom and Honey Boo Boo over what’s going on in the rest of the world.

      And that’ll get here soon enough. I lived in L.A. during the Rodney King riots. People kid themselves. We are one click away from the jungle. Anarchy. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. We get a “maybe” prediction for a storm here you can’t find a bottle of water or a loaf of bread on the shelf.

      We’re on the slippery slope and it’s sheer ice and almost straight down.

  5. Larry Kollar says:

    I have a 99¢ novella in KDP, one that’s doing quite well, and I’m getting somewhere between 1%-2% refunds. Since the book is aimed at a YA market, I wonder how many of them are kids (or adults for that matter) clicking the wrong button and backing out. There’s another book with a similar title, and perhaps some of them bopped the “buy” button before realizing they were on the wrong page. It doesn’t matter. Thousands of others have bought and kept it.

    The funny thing is, I had another novella free on Smashwords and 99¢ on Amazon. The price-match didn’t kick in for a month, but I still got 50-odd sales without a single return. Crazy days.

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