Let me repeat that: Amazon has come up with a way to RE-sell ebooks.
Translation: Amazon has figured out how to NOT compensate you for selling the book you wrote.
We all have been to second hand bookstores: You go in, find a nice looking book for a couple of bucks and whoosh – you’re at home reading that Stephen King novel and only paid $2 for it.* Not as awesome as rummage sale finds, but pretty good.
So Amazon want to be an e-rummage seller.
As a consumer it might be great. I don’t read ebooks from the big six, er, five, because the pricing is ridiculously high, in my opinion. I understand that I don’t actually own the e-version of the book I’m reading, I just pay for a license to read it, and I expect to receive a discount for that very reason.
But I don’t. I end up paying the same, or more sometimes, for an ebook that I don’t really own, that looks like crap on my bookshelf, and that I may not have access to if someone decides that this book is inappropriate, or that my account is suspended, or whatever.
It’s really crappy.
But as a consumer, I think, hey, if I pay $8 for an ebook, and can resell it for $4 –then I really just paid half the asking price, really, for it. It’s like a movie rental from blockbuster - before they were ran out of business, a business they could have probably salvaged if people weren’t secretly fuming over their tendency to treat consumers like money trees that needed to be plucked before eating. So when they fell, the masses celebrated with glee (A warning, I would think, to greedy people that are so openly greedy).
So yeah, I’d be thrilled to do that. Because that makes the pricing for an ebook feel more right to me. Because $3 - $5 feels like something I’d be comfortable with paying.
Except of course, that I tend to buy actual books whenever possible, reserving the e-versions for only those that I have a harder time getting elsewise. But still, it might make me pause and reconsider.**
Then I think of the author/publisher and realize that they just got cut out of the loop. I think of the possibility that I’d be selling 30 copies a month of a story but it’s actually been purchased 60 times… I only got credit for 30 because the other ones were “second hand.”
Then if that resold copy gets sold again, and again, over the course of a few years, 100% of my sales might be coming through ‘resold’ ebooks.
A book that’s been through a thousand transactions only got me two buck in royalties.
I’d drop a dollar into a slot on the wall at B&N before the doors will open to let me in.
It’s like they want to force me to go to Amazon. Of course, the reason that happens is because every business worth its own salt has the end goal of prying every penny you have ever had and putting it into their grubby little paws. I’m sure a single stick of gum would be $1000 dollars if Wrigley’s could get away with it. They would really like to just get your banking info and draft your account directly every time you chew.
You know what, they’d really like your employer to pay your wages to them directly, and they’d just give you the difference, minus transaction fees for all the hard work they’ve been doing on your behalf.
And then they’d decide that $1000 per stick of gum is actually $10,000… and it’s retroactive from the beginning of your life. So you owe them a lot of money.
Then people would complain of course, so they’d bribe a congressman to craft a bill that makes this a law. Then they’d name that bill the ‘Kittens are cute and Democracy is awesome’ bill and pass it through at 3 a.m. on a Sunday when only 2 people are there to vote on it.
Then people would complain again, and they would be on the TV news as people who hate kittens and want to destroy democracy.
… what was I talking about again, I forgot.
·Oh yes, so Amazon, as the 800 pound gorilla, wants to start selling the ebook you spent all that time and effort on, and might only have a small audience for, and not compensate you for it.
·Your publisher, if you’ve been fortunate enough to get one, thinks it’s a really smart idea to charge people for the privilege of even looking in the general direction of a book.
·Wrigley’s, the gum makers, want to draft our bank accounts each time we chew gum… wait, I forget now, I might have made that one up.
I know change can always be scary, and the Amazon change certainly is. But when I sit back and think of who benefits from this, depending on the pricing they offer for resell, it might only be them.
*Not at my second hand bookstore. A $7.99 mass market paper back, used, typically sells for about cover price. I’m not real sure how that works out, but they seem to be making a ton of money off of it, that place has more books than any chain bookstore I’ve ever been to. But I think my larger point still stands.
**And I don’t have too much and issue paying $ 8 - $20 for a physical copy of a book. It actually becomes my thing after that. I can throw it in the fire, sell it to that used bookstore down the street, use it as toilet paper, whatever. It’s a sliding scale on how much more I’ll go than that. One author, of whom I am a huge fan, has been selling hardcover copies of his self pubbed books from his personal website at $50 a pop. I just can’t go there. But I have paid $30+ for a self-pubbed book from an author that I love on more than one occasion.