I know. How do you even define “used” eBooks? eBooks don’t deteriorate as you use them. They don’t age. They don’t disintegrate after you have read them a million times. Your eBook is going to look new while your Kindle ages. So eBooks last longer than paperback books. But you can’t sell them. I have been complaining about this very issue since Kindle 1.0 was introduced. When you buy a paperback on Amazon, you can read it a hundred times and once you are done with it you can sell it to someone who really needs it but does not want to pay the full price for it. With Kindle books, you have the DRM to deal with. And you can’t easily transfer an e-book from one Kindle to another let alone sell it.
The guys at Business Week duly note that we all should be able to do whatever we want with our Kindle books (except duplicating them). I do give Amazon credit for giving us a minor discount on e-books. Paying $9.99 on most e-books helps cover the up-front cost associated with buying a Kindle. But what I do not appreciate is becoming the last owner of all e-books that I buy. Amazon really needs to take a look into this whole issue and provide us customers with ways to get rid of books that we do not want anymore.
Here is what Amazon can do:
- Allow third-party Kindle book sales: that’s the most straight forward approach here. I am sure it will bring some technical headaches for Amazon, but we should be able to sell our books on Amazon if we want. And I am sure Amazon wouldn’t mind charging us a transaction fee.
- Create an e-book-to-e-book exchange program: this is my favorite option. Let’s say Amazon creates a social community around the Kindle. Wouldn’t it be fun if owners could reach out to each other and exchange books through an Amazon interface? Amazon can charge folks a small fee for the exchange.
- Create e-book share program: now this is a wild idea! What if you could share your book with someone who needs it for a while without transferring your rights. In the real world, I would give you my book, you’d read it, and return it to me when you are done. A lot of authors complain that they do not get paid for this transaction. With e-book share program, Amazon charges a small fee to enable the transaction. The other party loses the book once your agreement runs out. Everybody’s happy. Asking for this feature is probably wishful thinking but who knows. We may see it.
- Allow e-book donations: I am sure at some point Amazon will start to give free or highly discounted Kindles to folks who may need it. I am not sure when that happens, but I do like to see “a Kindle for a child” program. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just donate your e-books if you want to?
Amazon has worked hard to make Kindle 2.0 better than the first generation Kindle. But it’s time for Amazon to step up and take the Kindle store to the next level. Paying $9.99 for an e-book is great, but being able to sell those e-books is even better.