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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Used E-Books

A headline over on the Chicago Tribune website caught my eye this afternoon.  Eric Zorn has written a short piece on the e-book pricing controversy in which he offers a tweak to the current business plan being used to overcharge (in my opinion) readers for "major" e-book titles.  The headline that caught my eye reads this way:
In the idea oven: 'Used' e-books
Zorn argues that even the backlists of many publishers are overpriced in e-book format, forcing buyers to opt instead for cheaper paperbacks or used copies of the books they want to read.  In the case of used books, as he points out, neither publishers nor authors receive a dime from the sale of their work to a second, third, or fourth reader.  Why  don't publishers instead, Zorn asks, drop their prices (based on the calendar, or otherwise) so that they and the authors sell more e-books and put money into the pockets of all concerned?

That started me wondering.  Would you (I know I would) buy more e-books if you had the right to sell them to another buyer, or even give them away?  I realize that the e-book bookstores would have to change their tracking mechanism in a way that would allow them to register the transfer to the new owner, but don't tell me they can't cope with that.

I would be a regular buyer of e-books if they were priced at $8 or $9 each and I knew that I could get half of my money back by selling the books to someone else.  What I will not be doing is paying $15 for an e-book - any e-book - and I don't see myself as the loser here.  I will take that $15 and buy a hard copy, the version I prefer anyway, a book I can resell, trade, or give away.  After all, unlike an e-book, I actually own a printed book.


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