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From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Don’t Cry for Me, La Agencia! Making a Silk Purse Out of the Sow’s Ear Fact That You Can’t Resell eBooks After You Read Them

Thanks to Kindle Nation Citizen Western Reader for this comment on an earlier Kindle Nation Daily post:

Item for Wishful Thinking Department: Wouldn’t it be nice if one could sell one’s “used” Kindle books? Ah, but how could one legally and/or ethically sell a book that was acquired at no cost in the first place? There are probably too many hurdles to even begin the journey. That’s why this idea is classified as wishful.

Well, @WR, you are correct that it’s unlikely you would ever be able to resell your license to your gently read Kindle books, but there’s more than one way to look at this. And, no surprise here: I prefer mine, which is based on the following notions:

  • Turn the concept inside out and what do we get? The fact that ebooks cannot be resold, compared with the fact that most print books will bring 30% to 50% of what you paid for them if resold in “very good” to “like new” condition through Amazon Marketplace, is a powerful value argument that aligns well with various cost arguments (most notably the lack of publisher costs for production, storage & warehousing, fulfillment, and returns) in favor of significantly lower suggested retail list prices for ebooks. It’s not how the publishing world or the executives of Steve Jobs’ collusive Agency Price-Fixing Model (SCAP-M) are seeing the world today, but the economics are straightforward and the logic is compelling, so it is just a matter of time.
  • While I would argue that you cannot ethically or legally resell your Kindle books, I have posted recently that Kindle owners of all ages should consider not only their Kindles but their Kindle accounts and their Kindle content to be part of their estates, something of significant and palpable value to be passed along in each case to a single favored heir. And Amazon should assign two smart people, a lawyer and a marketing copy whiz, to figure out the ins and outs, set the policy, and codify it in language on the Kindle portion of the Amazon website.

From the Kindle Nation Mailbag: Legacies (eBook, Literary, and Political), eBook Architecture, and Free Book Alerts

Thanks to Kindle Nation citizen Kenno for  his thoughtful comment on my RIP Alan Sillitoe post from last night. I commented back with some of this, but here I will take it a step further:

Your comment: “I didn’t much like the turns that Sillitoe’s personal politics took after his success as a novelist, but that never kept me from seeing his fiction as, in a number of ways, heroic and inspirational.”

I would have liked for you to have fleshed this one out a little. I did a small amount of research and saw that he identified with the poor working class and was in favor of the Iraq War, when few authors were. What did you mean?

Here’s another minor thought that may have no merit at all, but your daily long lists of freebies for the Kindle may be overdone. After acquiring “must have” classics, I may not have a life left long enough to read all that’s already on my Kindle. But please don’t stop listing them, since I acquired the freebie last week “90 Minutes in Heaven”, which was a very worthwhile read. I’m just hinting that more of your own thoughts would also be interesting.


Thanks for the comment, Kenno, but I’ll demure from further engagement on Sillitoe’s politics (other than to say that my relatively mild distaste was based more on Sillitoe’s Tory affinities of the 60s and 70s rather than of the past couple of decades): while I occasionally feel the need for a brief self-tagging, I would never want Kindle Nation Daily to become a political blog, or even a politics-of-the-literati blog. (Believe me, it’s not so much that I’m naturally reticent about politics and culture but that the opposite is true, so that I know enough not to allow myself to get started!)

Your point regarding KND Free Book Alerts is certainly taken, but here’s my thinking:

  1. Given the fact that there are thousands of new Kindle readers every day (via Kindles themselves or the many other Kindle-compatible devices), it’s important for me to continue organize content not only for those who have been here in the Kindlesphere for a year or more but also for the newly Kindelized.
  2. I always try to list the newest freebie listings first, so that those who like yourself are familiar with my patterns can easily ignore the balance of the post or, for that matter, the entire post.
  3. I appreciate the invitation to share more of my own thoughts about the books that I post, and I do believe that I have worthwhile things to say from time to time, but I’m also a great believer in the wisdom of crowds, and I know that most Kindle owners are pretty capable, once they reach the product page for a Kindle book on Amazon’s website, of gleaning a great deal from the combination of editorial and marketing content, categories and keywords, and Amazon customer reviews. (By the way, my belief that the Amazon and Kindle Store browse-search-sort-buy architecture amounts to book- and information-browsing Nirvana for most visitors is central to my belief that the Kindle environment is likely to continue to dominate ebook content market share compared with what may well be much cooler hardware, with perfectly fine reading environments, attached to “Chart Toppers” shopping environments that are about as inviting and search-the-long-tail-friendly as the CD department at Target or Best Buy.)
  4. Finally, let me push back a bit on what may have been a throwaway line from your comment: the notion that you “may not have a life left long enough to read all that’s already on” your Kindle. First, of course, there’s the fact that any and all of may well have a lot more time left than might be indicated by an actuarial table, and isn’t it great to know we’ll be able to keep reading on our Kindles throughout those many years? Second, from the converse assessment that we Kindle owners by and large are not a bunch of 12-year-olds, I encourage you — and all of us frankly — to think about our Kindles as an important part of our estates. Even if we do not finish reading everything on our Kindles at the time of our earthly departure, some child or grandchild or local library ought to be pleased to have us pass on our Kindle content when we pass on.

(Now all that Amazon needs to do is to establish a straightforward, easily understandable set of policies and practices that ease and streamline such bequests, including an enhancement of the Kindle environment to allow it to read EPUB-formatted books and documents.  Between the value of a Kindle and its owner’s lifetime ebook library, we could often be talking about value in the low four figures or more.

Is there an app for that?)