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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Article here:
http://www.zdnet.com/amazon-lands-patent-on-marketplace-for-selling-on-used-digital-content-7000010917/

Odd to think of digital goods as being "used." Not sure how I feel about this.

On one hand, it would let people "recycle" digital content, which is one of the main gripes people have about ebooks: that you can't hand them off to friends like you can physical books.

On the other hand, a physical book that is passed on has less value than the original because it is not in the original state (new). There is wear and tear, spine creases, etc. Wouldn't "used" digital content be exactly the same as "new?"
 

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I don't mind this secondhand marketplace if the following happens:

1. Rights holders have an "opt-out" option.
2. DRM Free ebooks are not included in this secondhand marketplace. Because DRM Free ebooks can technically be copied an infinite number of times, I would hate to see my DRM free ebooks in this type of marketplace. And selling (or giving away) copies would be a violation of my copyrights.

Otherwise, I don't have a problem. I do like that the original owner would lose access to the ebook and could trade the ebook only a limited number of times. But I do wonder how this type of marketplace would impact income for authors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
SunHi Mistwalker said:
But I do wonder how this type of marketplace would impact income for authors.
That's the big question, isn't it? Good point about the DRM, too.

Here's what the article says about limiting the transfers:
"Amazon's second-hand digital marketplace would create scarcity by limiting, via a counter it describes in the patent, the number of times a digital object may be transferred.

"These thresholds help to maintain scarcity of digital objects in the marketplace and/or to comply with licensing requirements of the digital object, by putting conditions on when and how many times used digital objects may be transferred," Amazon explains."
 

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Hmmm, sounds like Amazon may have a change in their terms of service. In order for them to decide how many times a digital item can be traded, wouldn't they need to ask the rights holder first? Also, would the digital item return to the original buyer?  It's a brave new world.  ;)
 

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What I want to know are sellers of used digital books going to be allowed to link to our book pages? You know how it is now with paperbacks where there is a list of sellers of the used paperbacks? I won't be happy that all my work, effort and in some cases, money, has been spent to get people to my Amazon page, and someone can spend a few bucks buying my books, and undercut my pricing right there on my page. With paperbacks, people at least have to worry about condition or if the books will actually arrive. Not so with digital. What is to stop someone from creating a hundred different accounts and getting hundreds of free books, then when they go back to paid, selling them for half the price that we sell our books?

What if they get to re-sell that book six times? It may not sound like much, but if you have a thousand sales, and then people re-sell, that's now six thousand books probably cheaper than yours and in the exact same digital condition.

Now, if they could make the digital degrade with each subsequent purchase. Lighten the text or make it less crisp, install a few days delay in receiving it, then it could compete with paperbacks resale.

Am I just thinking too hard on this or could these things really happen?
 

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As far as the TOS ... Amazon can make that clear, like Dayla says, we're prawns.  Don't like the new rules?  See ya.  There is an endless supply of authors to take one disgruntled writers place.   I make my living on Amazon ... I can't just move on if the TOS changes, and Amazon knows that to some degree ... they hold all the cards as far as my career is concerned.
 

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MaryMcDonald said:
What is to stop someone from creating a hundred different accounts and getting hundreds of free books, then when they go back to paid, selling them for half the price that we sell our books?

What if they get to re-sell that book six times? It may not sound like much, but if you have a thousand sales, and then people re-sell, that's now six thousand books probably cheaper than yours and in the exact same digital condition.
I hadn't thought of this. Well, I guess it could definitely dissuade writers from going free. :) Maybe they could prevent the resale of free ebooks. Only seems fair.

Italiahaircolor said:
As far as the TOS ... Amazon can make that clear, like Dayla says, we're prawns. Don't like the new rules? See ya. There is an endless supply of authors to take one disgruntled writers place. I make my living on Amazon ... I can't just move on if the TOS changes, and Amazon knows that to some degree ... they hold all the cards as far as my career is concerned.
Prawn? Speak for yourself. :p I don't plan on leaving Amazon anytime soon, but they're not the only source of MY income. If (when) they implement this resale scheme, I will assess the situation and adapt. Hmmmm Are prawns adaptable little creatures?
 

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This is terrible, for all the reasons stated above.

There is no such thing as "used" digital content in the way consumers understand it. It's a copy, no matter how you shake a stick at it. ("I happen to have 1000 "used" copies of Wool here. A buck each, step right up!")
We all know that DRM is not much of a deterrent.

At least right now it's illegal to sell someone else's book and pretend to have copyright (or at least it's illegal once you get caught).
 

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SunHi Mistwalker said:
I don't mind this secondhand marketplace if the following happens:

1. Rights holders have an "opt-out" option.
2. DRM Free ebooks are not included in this secondhand marketplace. Because DRM Free ebooks can technically be copied an infinite number of times, I would hate to see my DRM free ebooks in this type of marketplace. And selling (or giving away) copies would be a violation of my copyrights.

Otherwise, I don't have a problem. I do like that the original owner would lose access to the ebook and could trade the ebook only a limited number of times. But I do wonder how this type of marketplace would impact income for authors.
I agree with everything here. My feelings exactly.
 

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MaryMcDonald said:
What I want to know are sellers of used digital books going to be allowed to link to our book pages? You know how it is now with paperbacks where there is a list of sellers of the used paperbacks? I won't be happy that all my work, effort and in some cases, money, has been spent to get people to my Amazon page, and someone can spend a few bucks buying my books, and undercut my pricing right there on my page. With paperbacks, people at least have to worry about condition or if the books will actually arrive. Not so with digital. What is to stop someone from creating a hundred different accounts and getting hundreds of free books, then when they go back to paid, selling them for half the price that we sell our books?

What if they get to re-sell that book six times? It may not sound like much, but if you have a thousand sales, and then people re-sell, that's now six thousand books probably cheaper than yours and in the exact same digital condition.

Now, if they could make the digital degrade with each subsequent purchase. Lighten the text or make it less crisp, install a few days delay in receiving it, then it could compete with paperbacks resale.

Am I just thinking too hard on this or could these things really happen?
These are exactly my fears. We're talking the potential loss of hundreds of dollars -- and that's just surface level stuff. Some people stand to lose much, much more.

If this happens, and terms are super limiting to the author, I'm going to have to really consider long and hard about my next move.
 

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SunHi Mistwalker said:
Prawn? Speak for yourself. :p I don't plan on leaving Amazon anytime soon, but they're not the only source of MY income. If (when) they implement this resale scheme, I will assess the situation and adapt. Hmmmm Are prawns adaptable little creatures?
Amazon is my only source by design. My books didn't move on other sites -- but believe me, I tried them and the results were just eh -- I do better with borrows. However, it's WONDERFUL Amazon isn't your own source, good for you.
 

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I'm not wild about the idea - but it's out of my hands.  This will be for the companies with millions to spend to fight over.  You can bet that the big publishers (and music companies, and film studios, and games developers) won't want even tiny steps being taken down this particular road.

If it's a case of transferring the ownership on the Amazon cloud from one customer to another - it's not so bad, especially with a limit on the number of transfers.  

If they let people randomly upload content and claim that it's the only copy they're selling - then heck no!  I think Amazon would be wary of doing it that way though, because there's a risk that they could be held liable & get fined or shut down for selling pirated content unless they could show that they'd done everything possible to ensure that only legitimate copies were sold.

I'm also not going to get too up in the air about this until I hear the terms that it would happen under (if it ever makes it past the courts.)  There's a chance (even if it's a small one) that they would make some sort of payment to the original author to sweeten the deal.
 

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This does sound distressing.  I would hope that the author of the product would still get their XX% of the cut, even of a used ebook sale. 

But it makes me wonder, why is Amazon doing this?  Is Amazon pushing for constant revision and new editions of ebooks, so they won't be static like a webpage?  Or perhaps, they figure they will get money no matter what, even if the author doesn't.

Jodi
 

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Italiahaircolor said:
Amazon is my only source by design. My books didn't move on other sites -- but believe me, I tried them and the results were just eh -- I do better with borrows. However, it's WONDERFUL Amazon isn't your own source, good for you.
I should have said -- ebooks aren't the only source of my income. That's more accurate. But yes, I agree that a digital resale scheme could mean a financial loss, especially for those dependent on digital sales for their income. And just in case my comment was interpreted as snarky, that wasn't my intention. I just wanted to point out that this resale scheme doesn't have to mean disaster for writers.

Zelah Meyer said:
I'm not wild about the idea - but it's out of my hands. This will be for the companies with millions to spend to fight over. You can bet that the big publishers (and music companies, and film studios, and games developers) won't want even tiny steps being taken down this particular road.

If it's a case of transferring the ownership on the Amazon cloud from one customer to another - it's not so bad, especially with a limit on the number of transfers.

If they let people randomly upload content and claim that it's the only copy they're selling - then heck no! I think Amazon would be wary of doing it that way though, because there's a risk that they could be held liable & get fined or shut down for selling pirated content unless they could show that they'd done everything possible to ensure that only legitimate copies were sold.

I'm also not going to get too up in the air about this until I hear the terms that it would happen under (if it ever makes it past the courts.) There's a chance (even if it's a small one) that they would make some sort of payment to the original author to sweeten the deal.
Letting the big boys fight over it is probably the best move. They have the money and they've got more to lose.
 

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Quiss said:
There is no such thing as "used" digital content in the way consumers understand it. It's a copy, no matter how you shake a stick at it. ("I happen to have 1000 "used" copies of Wool here. A buck each, step right up!")
Right. Why don't they just offer licenses instead? You get the book at this lower price, but it is removed after a year. If you want it perpetually (as long as Amazon is in business), then you pay this higher price?

Jodi
 

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I think people buy new books because they like to hear the spine creak and smell the pages, etc, they don't like other people's dirty throwaways, and/or they might want to be "one of the first" to read something. Other people don't care about that stuff and buy used books because they can save money, sometimes a lot. By making "used" ebooks, they are removing 2/3 of the reasons why people would be willing to buy a new book (at new book prices). So the only people who will be able to sell at new book prices will be highly established authors with rabid fans waiting to buy whatever they put out next the moment it is available (or even put up for pre-release months in advance as they do now). The unknowns, like a lot of us here, will not have that clamoring horde climbing the digital fences to pay new book prices, so instead, we'll have to give our work away until we can build a clamoring horde. I realize that at 99 cents and obviously the free lists, many of us already give our stories away, so perhaps nothing changes there. But if people can get your book for free, and then they can give it away to others, you're not even going to get download credits. So, to my mind, this means, essentially, the number of indies making a living from selling books will plummet right back to where it was before this little Gold Rush began. Which, I suppose, was inevitable, but still...
 

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Maybe I interpreted the article wrong, but this is what I got from it:

The digital content (ebooks, songs, movies, games ...) would be located on a cloud.

The first "buyer" would have access to the content, but in a limited way. For example, it could stream on the buyer's Kindle device, but not downloadable. The buyer wouldn't have real ownership of an object (a file), merely access to it.

The first owner sells that access to a second buyer. The first owner loses access.

There is a limited number of access sales available for each original "purchase" - and the actual object (file) remains in the cloud.

Might cut down on piracy if no files ever leave the cloud.

And ... there is no reason the content creator can't get a cut of each transaction. I'm sure Amazon will.

But this might just be me, with my head in the clouds.
 

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**Note, I just received my Kindle Fire HD 8.9" today in the mail with the Belkin keyboard I bought thanks to the sale they're having, and OMG, I am in love and amazed and cannot believe the possibilities this is going to open up for me writing and business wise, so I have Amazon stardust in my eyes ATM.

Imagine a world where paperback sales are a fraction of the business.

Imagine a world where a digital file can have a unique identifier to track where it's gone. A world where ebooks are priced at $6.99 and up because there are no $4.99 paperback at the grocery store anymore, it's a kiosk.

We know Amazon does a healthy business on resales of used books and products. It is smart for them to seek a patent for this capability with their digital ecosystem.

Problem we have? Traditionally published books don't make a dime on the resale and that's probably a trend that will continue, UNLESS we get in front of this and try to negotiate something different. I doubt traditional publishers are going to be okay with the digital file selling and reselling without getting a cut, and with a system to track the resale, it would be easy for a fraction of the cost to go back to the original content creator, provided they have an account with Amazon. I.e. yes you can put your digital copy up for resale for Amazon coins (I'd bet heavily that will be part of the system, assuming Amazon coins do well which they should since virtual currencies in other closed ecosystems are an established commodity), but a percentage of that sale goes back to Amazon. So say you put the book up for $0.99, you only get 50% in Amazon coins, and Amazon banks the 50%, giving a small peanut to content creator, pocketing the rest.

This also opens the door for limited edition ebooks, signed by the author etc. For authors with extensive libraries, you could create a vault like situation with some of your books to help them rotate in and our of "new release" status.

Patents though are secured all the time and nothing comes of it. I don't think we will see digital resale until there is a significant decline in the used physical book market. Maybe 5 years, maybe 15. Who knows?
 

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Elizabeth Ann, we're thinking alike.

Amazon is thinking of ways to make money. So far, they have always brought the content creators (the real content creators, as opposed to publishers and distributors) along for the ride.

I'd love to see piracy kicked in the hockey sticks.
 

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LKRigel said:
Maybe I interpreted the article wrong, but this is what I got from it:

The digital content (ebooks, songs, movies, games ...) would be located on a cloud.

The first "buyer" would have access to the content, but in a limited way. For example, it could stream on the buyer's Kindle device, but not downloadable. The buyer wouldn't have real ownership of an object (a file), merely access to it.

The first owner sells that access to a second buyer. The first owner loses access.

There is a limited number of access sales available for each original "purchase" - and the actual object (file) remains in the cloud.

Might cut down on piracy if no files ever leave the cloud.

And ... there is no reason the content creator can't get a cut of each transaction. I'm sure Amazon will.

But this might just be me, with my head in the clouds.
Well, I went back and read the article again. Here's a quote:

The patent describes a marketplace where digital goods such as "e-books, audio, video, computer games, etc" that are purchased from an original vendor are stored in a personalised data store. Amazon's idea is that users can sacrifice their right to access "the now-used digital content" and move it to another person's data store.
So it sounds like a customer would purchase the ebook, then store it on Amazon's system and from there the ebook could be resold or transferred to others a limited number of times. But it sounds like a "closed system" where you must belong to this data store program. My concern about unauthorized copies still remains. What's to stop a person from storing multiple copies of a DRM Free book? Technically they could make copies of a DRM free item, keep one on their system and another on Amazon's "cloud."
 
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