Used eBooks: Should Amazon Sell Them?

amazon used ebooks

Amazon used ebooks will hurt authors and publishers

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.