Saturday, 16 February 2013

Amazon – Legalising Piracy of Our eBooks

As if authors retailers and publishers do not have enough to worry about, the news that Amazon has received a patent for a system for selling 'pre-owned' digital files may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. For a start it is a nonsense to believe that a digital file can be 'pre-owned'. What we are talking about here is an infringement on the license to sell the ebook, and who will monitor that files are not merely copied and sent on as pre-owned. Regardless of whether the 'original' digital files sits on the cloud or not, allowing sales of 'second hand' digital files is more worrying than piracy and in many respects it is difficult if not impossible to distinguish between the two. Both methods strip the publisher and author's legal right to obtain duly earned royalties from content they have the rights to.

This is clearly a case of Amazon being its usual savvy forward thinking self being at least 500 steps ahead of the current judicial system on digital content ownership. If this is allowed to go ahead we may as well send all of our content out for free because the idea of actually making money out of publishing will die. We will look back on the days where we could sell for 20p (This is another dreadful promotion accepted by the industry that is ultimately harmful) because returns to authors and publishers let alone retailers (except Amazon who will own the patent after all) will potentially be diminishing from the very first day of publication as books find their way immediately into the 'second hand' market. The only option left to publishers will be to dramatically raise the price of eBooks universally to protect the financial investment we put into books and authors.


John Holt said...

I have to admit that I do not fully understand the implications. Maybe one possible course of action is to stop relying solely on Kindle (as many of us, including myself, do) Maybe our ebooks should be available on all types of ebook format - Nook, and Kobo. Perhaps Smashwords and Draft2Digital should be supported more than at present. Certainly Amazon needs to be made aware of our (Indie authors) concerns. Sadly an individual author would have no impact whatsoever. Perhaps we should all join together into a Federation of Indie Authors.

Caffeine Nights said...

We do put all of our ebooks on all platforms available but the sad truth is that the majority of sales for ebooks still come through Amazon. They are selling 70% of all ebooks sold. While sales at Kobo are picking up they have such a long way to go to get the numbers Amazon is achieving. The implications of 'second-hand' ebooks could be the nail in the coffin for many publishers. A more direct course of action might be a universal boycott which I would support if we had the support of all publishers including self-publishers on Amazon.