Recently there have been a number of alarmist posts made on the interwebs about companies (Amazon being one of the them, but Amazon is ALWAYS one of them…) planning to allow users to sell their second-hand ebooks.
People have been really throwing their toys out of their prams over the issue. Or non-issue as I like to think of it. I know that some of you are you wondering what I’m on about here so I’ll do a quick recap on the issue:
- All creators have the right of first sale, it’s part of copyright in that when their product is sold (for the first time) they get their cut.
- Until recently there wasn’t the technology to allow the resale, or second hand market, for electronic goods.
- It’s apparently a back-door for pirated copies (and we all know that piracy funds terrorism (!)).
- The main argument, especially where DRM is used, is that the first purchaser is an “end-user” and so they are only licensing the product for their personal use, so resale is VERBOTTEN!!!!!! (yes I went over the top with the exclamation marks there, but it was for comedic effect).
Now I’m not going to go into any of those points because frankly, each of them is a choice for the individual copyright holder/publisher to decide on. Personally, I’m not going to put DRM on my future works (unless required by certain outlets…. Amazon) because I think it’s limiting and frustrating for the reader. “Surely you’re worried about piracy?” I hear you gasp. Well…. no. Not as much as I am about alienating readers in the first place.
So why am I not bothered about the re-sale of ebooks? Or more specifically, why am I not worried about the re-sale of MY ebooks? There are two reasons:
- I’ll have earned what I consider to be my entitlement via the ‘right of first sale’. I think it’s fairly obnoxious to expect to be paid when someone sells that book on.
- I actually see the option to re-sell e-books as another revenue opportunity.
Wait! What? You heard me! Now put your brain in gear. As an reader, how many copies of an ebook do you legally own? That’s right, as many as you legally paid for. Now, as an author, how many copies of your ebook do you legally own?……. Okay, let me help you with that one. It’s somewhere between infinity and whatever comes after that.
See where I’m going with this yet? These re-selling services operate by allowing you to sell any copies you legally own. With ebooks (as long as you haven’t stupidly sold your publishing rights), as an author you own an infinite amount of them. You can create them at will, which means that you can also sell them at will. So why should a canny author be bothered about these services when he/she can use them as another revenue stream. Log on, see how much your book is going for in the second-hand market, put a load of copies up for sale at a competitive price. A percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing. Simples.
I’d love to read your thoughts on the issue.
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