Is a Used eBook Store in the Future?

Recently, Amazon patented a way to sell “used” ebooks, music, videos, apps and other “digital objects.” The marketplace described in the patent would let such exchanges take place by cutting off the seller’s access to a piece of digital content once the buyer paid.


Here’s how Amazon has sketched out the way a used ebook store would work in the patent. The proposed used marketplace would work similarly to Amazon’s Kindle ebook lending process. Currently if a publisher grants Amazon the rights, when a Kindle customer “buys” a book, they have the option to loan the access rights to that digital file to friends or family that are also Kindle users. While the book is on loan, the original owner of the book is unable to access the ebook on any Kindle device. It’s still on those devices, but the access rights to the book have been transferred temporarily to the person with the loaned ebook.

Amazon’s proposed used digital marketplace would take that one step further. Instead of loaning the access rights of an ebook, music file, video or application, in exchange for some cash, the original owner of the digital file would transfer the rights to use that file to another party permanently.

Following Amazon’s lead, Apple has now also filed a patent application to create a used marketplace for digital goods also.

Interestingly, both companies appear to have built in ways that publishers (and authors) will benefit from the sales of used digital goods. It appears both Amazon and Apple might give a decreasing percent of the sale to the publisher each time a used digital book is sold (based on the number of times it has changed hands).

One obstacle to a used digital good store is a current court case involving ReDigi and Capitol Records around copyright infringement. ReDigi, a company in beta testing, lets people buy and sell all kinds of copyrighted digital content. ReDigi uses a verification process to determine whether a given digital item has been legally downloaded and can be resold, allowing only the original good to be sold—much like reselling a used physical book or CD. In addition, ReDigi already uses the model of paying copyright holders when it sells a pre-owned digital file.

I suspect that neither Amazon nor Apple will move forward with a used ebook store until the issue is settled for ReDigi.

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My Simple Marketing Test

Marketing a book is hard work. As the author of Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace and the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I get inquiries from authors quite regularly on marketing.

Pass Fail

Many of these authors will report that, in spite of their marketing efforts, their books are not selling well. I can tell with one little test whether any one of these given authors is really expending effort in marketing his book or not. I am going to share this little test with you. This way, you can conduct the test on your own book and see how well you are doing in the marketing department.

Here it is:

Head on over to a search engine—either Bing or Google—type in the name of your book and hit “search.” Watch for the results.

If your search, based on the title of your book, does not contain at least two full pages of results, then I can say with certainty that you are not expending enough energy marketing your book.

That’s my simple marketing test. If you are interested in a longer marketing test, check out the quiz on my book’s website by clicking here.

Some of you may be asking, how does that really tell about my marketing efforts? Search engines show how many places a book is listed or mentioned around the Internet. In today’s economy, with over 50% of all books purchased online, if your book is not found on multiple websites, it is clear that you are not even taking advantage of the many free marketing opportunities on the Internet.

If you are one of those authors who only gets a handful of search engine results when you plug in the name of your book, then I suggest that you start increasing your marketing efforts. You can start by listing your books in the numerous free online directories. Here are three to get you started:

There are many, many more free and low-cost things you can do on the Internet to market your book. Start by adding your book to these three free directories, and then make yourself a goal to do at least one or two online marketing efforts for your book every day. You will reap some results.

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Global Trends in Book Publishing

The publishing and book selling industry has been changing at lightning fast speed in the past few years. Every day, a new technology, new court ruling, or new trend is impacting our industry.

Watch this video by publishing house Berrett Koehler for a great overall synthesis of the many changes and trends that are impacting both the publishing and the selling of books.

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Expanding Print-On-Demand Options

I am a book person. I know book publishing. Once in a while, as the Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I get inquiries from individuals and companies who are looking to branch into magazine publishing. These people want information and resources related to publishing magazines. For the most part, I really can’t help them.


The little I know about magazine publishing can be put into this blog post. I won’t bore you with it. However, as with books and newspapers, the trend with magazines is also going digital. Magazine publishers can’t seem to sustain enough print subscribers to justify the cost of large print-runs. When you have dwindling print subscribers, the math stops adding up to a profit.

Ingram’s newest program may be the answer for some magazine publishers. The Ingram Content Group Inc. recently announced the launch of a print-on-demand program for journals (fancy word for magazines). Contending that this new program will “reshape the traditional supply chain” in journal publishing, Ingram is now extending its print-on-demand services for books to journals.

Under this new program, Ingram provides publishers with the tools to manage their print journals from file set-up to print-on-demand to delivery. Using a website, publishers can upload and manage content and subscription lists, designate fulfillment requirements, and place print orders for direct delivery to their subscribers.

Here is the neat part. Using POD for magazines can provide many of the same benefits the process does for books, eliminating overprinting and warehousing, reducing overhead, and providing improved inventory control.

Ingram’s new print-on-demand for journals program will begin this month. If you publish a magazine, you may want to check out Ingram’s new program.

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