Why Amazon’s Patent to Sell Used eBooks May be Totally Cool

Vik RubenfeldFor WritersLeave a Comment

What would happen to writers if their books are sold without any potential for them to make a living from it?

I was originally very concerned when I heard reports stating that Amazon had a new plan to enable people to sell their “used” ebooks. The reports make no mention of the original author being involved in the transaction.

It’s hard enough already for a writer to make a living.  If a writer’s books can be recycled via a global marketplace like Amazon, how much will that cut down the number of “new” copies sold? Maybe 5,000 copies of any book is all anyone would need.  They can just be endlessly recycled.  The original author would get screwed. In what sense is an ebook ever “used” anyway? No electrons are harmed when it is read.

But these comments on Reddit probably have it right. They are voted to the top in the discussion titled, “Amazon is gonna start selling used ebooks.

Won’t happen, Amazon took the patent to stop other people from doing it.

[…..]I have a friend that works at Amazon. I sent him a message on gTalk and he replied saying they don’t have plans to sell used ebooks and that they only acquired the patent for strategic reasons.

Until further info is available, I think the Reddit comments quoted are probably correct. Selling used ebooks would be too much of an attack on the ebook industry that Amazon is doing so much to create. On the contrary, it appears possible that Amazon took this step to prevent others from doing it.

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