The Biblio Files  

  our bookish life  

The Biblio Files

The Biblio Files
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
January 01
We (Steve and Helen) irresponsibly gave up our promising careers in aviation and bookselling over ten years ago. Now books seem to have taken over our lives. We frequent libraries, bookstores, and thrift shops in search of interesting books. We buy/swap/sell, but mainly, we read. We both wear glasses and have been mistaken for librarians.


FEBRUARY 8, 2013 12:30AM

Ebook Dreams: All-You-Can-Read Buffet & Selling Used Ebooks

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  used ebook


The Washington Post reports that Amazon has received approval for a patent to sell used e-books. I'm imagining publishers' heads exploding at the thought. What does it mean? How can you sell or buy a used e-book? We can pirate e-books and lend e-books (with the seller's permission), but selling used e-books is a new and intriguing concept. I can't wait to find out how it will work.




Meanwhile, another concept in e-books is slowly making its way to the readers.  Imagine paying a monthly fee and reading all the e-books you want from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or some other provider. It seems to me that we are getting closer and closer to that dream of an all-you-can-read buffet.

Amazon Prime allows members to view all the videos they want from the Prime selection (currently at over 15,000 TV shows and movies) and Barnes & Noble allows Nook owners to read any book they want on their device for free while they connected to the in-store wi-fi (limited to one hour per day).

Amazon Prime members can also borrow a Kindle book each month, but the list of available books seems to be heavily tilted toward first novels and other self-published titles.

And now Amazon has a program called Kindle FreeTime which has a collection of videos, books, and apps for children. It costs a set amount per month for access to all the content (although parents can limit the content available to their child).

 The next step is an all-you-can-read buffet in which you pay a monthly fee depending on how much you plan to read, say $20, then read all the ebooks you can from a list approved by the publishers. And that's the sticking point. I can't see the publishers signing off on this plan, but Amazon appears to be interested in the idea, and they have brought pressure to bear before. We shall see.


amazon is the devil 

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A book is ultimately a story and there have always been a variety of price points for the same story: hardback, trade paperback, mass market paperback, used bookstore, book swap and library.

The value of a book is different to everyone. Many readers have a ceiling on how much they will pay for a book by an unknown author. They might be willing to pay a lot more for a book by the same author, once they know and love the books.

It's a good strategy to try to capture the different price points. Whether publishers will be able to get over their feat of cannibalization is another question. But if they don't, perhaps authors will abandon them for more dynamic partners. With the advent of the e-reader, many of the functions of a publisher can be performed without them.
Selling a used ebook will be interesting. As long as the seller no longer has the book on his/her Kindle/Nook/Whatever after the sale, I can't see how publishers can challenge the sale. Commerce laws generally say that if you legally own a product, you can sell it.
@Malusinka - Yes! I read one blogger who said if he couldn't get a book in the format he wanted (e-book in his case), there were so many other books he wanted to read that do come in his preferred format that he would just skip that particular book. Publishers be warned.

@Stim - That's what the lawyers call First-Sale Doctrine. And wouldn't you know, the Supreme Court is hearing a case this year about a fellow who was buying textbooks overseas and selling them in the US for a profit. He bought the books legally, sold them as used, and the publisher sued him for selling them illegally. That will be an interesting case, with implications beyond books.
I'd bet that after the shock wears off publishers will be lining up to cut some kind of a royalty or share of the fees charged for books read in this fashion. Especially when it starts cutting into sales! Money talks......

What the heck is wrong with that rating thing?