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Second Hand E-Books On The Way?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 3

More Changes In The World of Publishing And Book Sales

The Amazon Kindle E-Book Reader
There can't be much doubt that the advent of e-readers has been the biggest single change in the world of publishing, reading and book sales since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the fifteenth century. E-readers have been around for well over a decade, but it was really the launch of the Amazon Kindle reader that brought them to the public's attention.

That took place in November of 2007, and the original Kindle was, being honest, just a little clunky - quirky if you want to be polite - in comparison with the sleek, smooth readers available today. It was probably the launch of the Kindle 2.0 in early 2009 that saw the start of the meteoric rise of e-readers.

Other manufacturers tried to get in on the act, but Amazon continues to dominate the market. Today, their main competition comes from Barnes and Noble - and it's more than a coincidence that the two top dogs in the market are both well established booksellers.

The e-reader market is pretty well a Kindle Paperwhite vs Nook Glowlight shoot out right now. There are other alternatives available - but those are very much the main options.

Over the piece, Amazon seems to be worthy of its market leading position. It has not only dominated, but shaped, the emerging market for both e-readers and e-books over the last few years. It has now expanded its hardware range to include tablet computers in addition to e-readers (as has B&N).

It's easy to get wrapped up in the analysis of the hardware, but that's really missing the point to some extent. Whilst it may not be immediately obvious, it seems probable that, in the long term, e-books are at least as important as the hardware used to read them. At the end of the day, both Amazon and Barnes and Noble are booksellers.

Amazon's latest innovation may be signalled by the fact that it has just been awarded a patent titled "Secondary Market For Digital Objects". This is based upon the transfer of used digital objects - which could include software, audio, apps and, most likely, e-books.

It's an interesting development, and one which might have some very significant implications for book sales.

Unlike physical books, e-books do not become dog eared, worn and grubby after repeated use. There wouldn't be any point advertising a second hand e-book as being "as good as new". That would be taken as read, if you'll pardon the pun.

A second hand e-book would, to all intents and purposes, be indistinguishable from a brand new e-book. You would have to wonder why, if there was any significant price difference, anyone would buy new - assuming that there was a sufficiently large supply of second hand titles available that is.

At the moment it's not clear whether the author would receive any compensation for second hand sales - or what the mechanism might be. Amazon has only recently received the patent - and it might be years before they decide to act upon it. They may even choose tot ake no further action.

Nevertheless, it poses a great many questions as to what direction the world of book sales might take in future.

Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

Kindle Paperwhite, 6" High Resolution Display with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi - Includes Special Offers [Previous Generation]
Amazon Price: $119.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 25, 2013)
Amazon says that the new Paperwhite is "the world's most advanced e-reader". They might just be right. It's a joy to read on, in bright sunlight or dimly lit conditions.

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet Computer

Kindle Fire 7", LCD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB
Amazon Price: $174.00 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 25, 2013)
Check out Amazon's Kindle Fire. Get full access to Amazon's massive content system, e-books, videos, games and apps at a fraction of the price of other tablets.


Mar 11, 2013 8:22am
As a librarian for many years I was not really sure how the ebooks and the Kindles/Nooks would go, but now I am convinced that many people who own these ereaders are getting to more books that they enjoy reading!
Mar 11, 2013 8:28am
I certainly think that e-readers have made books more easily accessible and encouraged reading in general. At the end of the day, the hardware isn't all that important - it's the e-books and the reading that matters most.
Mar 12, 2013 9:10pm
I was unsure, but got a Kindle Paperwhite 3G for Christmas, and I love it. I was running out of shelf space, as I read 2 or 3 books weekly. I found I'm reading more, but its so easy to order a book from Amazon have it delivered wirelessly in seconds. I think a few of mine may have been second hand, because people had underscored certain passages. I would still prefer to have some research or informational books in regular form, as it's hard to write and use a page of a Kindle to quote a source.
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