This rumor has been running across the internet chat room and websites like wild-fire. Have you heard about it yet? If you’re a self-published author strictly using Amazon (KDP) for publishing, this may affect you in a huge way. And if you aren’t strictly using Amazon, it still affects you, but you may have options, such as not using their service. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling the literary world to take up their Kindle and storm the gates, but only that authors take time to consider the alternatives.
According to this article at The Dish (and other sites):
[A] U.S. patent that Amazon Technologies in Reno, Nev., received last week indicates that the mega-retailer has its sights on digital resale, including used e-books and audio downloads. According to the abstract, Amazon will be able to create a secondary market for used digital objects purchased from an original vendor by a user and stored in a user’s personalized data store.
What does that mean for e-book authors? Simple. It means that once John Q Reader finishes reading your e-book purchased through Amazon for Kindle or the Kindle app, he can resell the book back to Amazon at a lesser rate. From there, Amazon can resell the e-book at a slightly cheaper price than “new” and the author will receive no royalties on the resell transaction. And, considering a used e-book will always be in new condition, most readers would go for the “resell” book at the cheaper price. Thus, Amazon makes a major profit on your book while you make nothing at all.
While a physical book would eventually have wear-and-tear, and the buyer would have the choice in purchasing a new or used physical book, the choice is pretty one-sided when buying a “used” e-book. Buy a new e-book for $4.99 or used e-book for $3.99, which would you buy?
Consider this: how many e-books would have to be returned before the market for new e-books is dead? My best novice mathematical figure is just one. Here is my reasoning: Today I buy Be Still for my Kindle app and return it by next Friday. On average I sell one copy a week, so next week my returned e-book will resell at the used price. And suppose for argument’s sake that the reader returned the book the following Friday and Amazon resold it that night. And let’s say this continued for the year, which comes to 52 weeks, how much books did I sell? Answer: Just one, the original one. And that one book will be all the profit I will ever see. Do you see how this plays out now?
This does not increase your rank either, as resold books do not count into the ranking system. All it takes is one resold e-book to stop everything.
What’s all the fuss? Physical books and CDs are resold all the time, right? Yes, but at the discretion of the consumer receiving used and worn goods. Given the choice between a new and used book I will read for leisure, I buy the new one. Now if you’re talking about a textbook, then I buy used, and these days even textbooks are revised almost yearly so they can maintain their sales.
Is there a fix? None that I can really see, except asking people not to purchase your book on Kindle and to use another avenue like Barnes & Noble, iBook, or some other eReader. But how long before the other distributors follow suit?
I have been told, and have blogged prior, on the topic of writing for fun or profit, in which I stated that I write for fun, but I’d love to be making a living from it. It’s not easy holding a more-than fulltime job, and then coming home and writing after midnight. Writing is my passion, my career is a job. Given the choice, I would write, but the dream of being able to support my family from this may be drastically suffocated to the e-book resell program, because 90% of my books are sold through eReaders. What do you think?
Please give your thoughts and honest opinions on this discussion here.
Tania L Ramos
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