Used Ebooks, the Ridiculous Idea that Could Also Destroy the Publishing Industry

Amazon has a patent to sell used ebooks. When I first scanned the headline, I thought it must be some Onion-esque gag, and I'm sure I wasn't alone. Used e-books? As in, rumpled up, dog-eared pdfs? Faded black-and-white kindle cover art, Calibri notes typed in the margins that you can't erase?

Barely-amusing image aside, used ebooks are for real. Or at least have a very real potential to become real. See, Amazon just cleared a patent for technology that would allow it to create an online marketplace for used ebooks--essentially, if you own an ebook, you would theoretically be able to put it up for sale on a secondary market.

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so you can patent something that's illegal?

the dmca makes selling used ebooks illegal because no one "owns" the ebook to start. the publisher leases the ebook to the consumer. and Amazon is only the distributor, not the publisher.
but if Amazon publishes an ebook, they can resell used copies however they want. but I don't see how they can force other publishers to do it. other than the usual force applied by owning the marketplace and behaving as a monopoly.
so I don't understand how a patent comes into play when it's only technology that keeps someone from selling the ebook, not any device/service or anything that could be patented that that allows that sale. it's like applying for a patent to sell someone a cheese sandwich: "1) payment is given from party A ('buyer') to party B ('seller'); 2) a cheese sandwich is transferred from party B to party A."
this just leads us to Amazon becoming the publisher and the seller -- what that means to libraries, in the long run is pretty much death... since Amazon will control almost all the authors, all the bestsellers, all the distribution and all the post-first-sale transactions. libraries would go back to stocking unwanted fiction and second-rate scholarship because there won't be any other competition.

Change the terms and you can do what you like.

If a publisher says you own the book or Amazon owns the book then that is how they can do it. Just as songs were drm'd on Itunes to paying more to make them free to making them free generally. Things change.

If the publishers want to offer their books to consumers directly then they can do that, if they want to go through Amazon they can do that. There's just little reason to not go through them when all the costs and systems already exist with the big company.

If the publishers want to put in an exemption for libraries then they could do that as well.

The biggest impact is that maybe people would start to realise that they DON'T own the digital copies, that it's NOT free and that there is no difference in the product apart from the format.

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