Amazon is making all kinds of news headlines today. Some technology sites are reporting that Amazon is setting up a used ebook marketplace. Other sites are reporting that Amazon has already set up such a marketplace.
Let me set the story straight. Here’s what’s happening: Amazon has obtained a patent. This patent will potentially allow Amazon to sell used ebooks and audio downloads. Amazon has not made a move yet to sell any used digital content.
The original press release put out by Publishers Weekly states that Amazon is poised to sell used ebooks. This simply means that the company has secured the patent. What is also interesting to note is that Amazon’s core business model thrives and survives on the resale of content. If the company cannot allow customers to resell digital content, its entire business model might crumble. Now that Amazon has secured the resell patent, things may change.
What Is a Used Ebook?
If you think about it, the concept of a used ebook doesn’t make a lot of sense. After all, there’s no real usage of an ebook. These books don’t have dog-ears, aren’t torn or ripped, and can’t actually be touched.
So, what a person would be selling is the right for another person to own a pre-purchased ebook – even though that book is not technically used. In some ways, this sounds a lot like selling a ripped copy of a digital track or burned movie. The difference here is that the original ebook copy would disappear from a seller’s ebook files once the book has been sold.
A company called ReDigi already offers a used digital music service similar to the ebook service that Amazon wants to set up. Using ReDigi, it is possible to sell your used tunes to a buyer. In fact, ReDigi wanted to move in the digital book direction soon, though the startup may be trumped by the almighty Amazon. How the Amazon used ebook model might work is questionable, though I’m betting that the company takes some kind of profit from each sale.
When, Where, and How?
When will Amazon’s used ebook marketplace be created? Amazon hasn’t made any official announcements yet. Since the company has just snagged the patent allowing the sale of ebooks, it could be a few months before anything has been set up. However, it is important to point out that the digital world is, indeed, heading in the resale direction.
Right now, it is impossible to share an ebook with a friend or family member, but this is likely an unrealistic look at the future. People who purchase, read, and are finished with ebooks want to sell them. It will be hard to stop this movement, and Amazon is embracing it.
You can’t do much with your ebooks at the moment. Hopefully, though, you will be able to sell those digital copies in the near future. While you still can’t lend a friend a copy of that book you just bought, you can sell it for profit – or you will be able to soon enough. It’s a strange world we live in, isn’t it?