Amazon appears to be ramping up to sell used eBooks. But should it?
Let’s assume the technology exists to prevent the original buyer from retaining a copy of the eBook before reselling it to/on Amazon. That’s a big assumption that ignores monetary incentives for copyright infringement.
What’s likely to happen is someone will buy a new eBook, keep it to read, and promptly resell a copy of the book on Amazon to someone else.
Even if there is piracy-proof technology involved, selling used eBooks will hurt the authors and publishers, particularly self-publishers. Each additional re-sale potentially replaces one new sale of the same eBook.
If you’re relying upon book sales or royalties as a source of income, Amazon used eBooks will hurt your bottom line. At best, the company could mitigate the damage caused by paying you a percentage of the re-sale price. That’s unlikely.
The clear winner in the resale of eBooks will be Amazon. The losers will be the authors and publishers.
Full disclosure: I have three books that sell at Amazon, including eBook versions.
However, these are not the primary source of my income. If I were a full-time author or publisher that relied upon sales/royalties, I’d be very concerned about any plans by Amazon to sell used eBooks.