Will Authors Get Compensated for Used E-Book Sales? (On degradation)

Media Shift has a great article regarding used eBook sales. You should read the whole article but I’d like to highlight one point that’s made in the conversation:

Still, prominent authors have begun to debate what the potential sale of used e-books would mean for the publishing industry and the writers who depend on it. If used e-book sales follow the model of used print book sales, they will provide no revenue for authors and publishers. But digital copies don’t degrade the way printed books do, [emphasis added] so the availability of used e-books could also remove readers’ incentive for buying new e-books.

Later in the article there is this from author John Scalzi regarding why it’s ok for libraries to loan things multiple times:

Scalzi agreed. “Libraries pay for their copies, and books are not an infinite resource. Books get wear and tear and libraries have to replace them. If the library down the street lends out my book “Old Man’s War” 20 or 30 times, it needs to be replaced.”

Ah, the old HarperCollins theory rears its ugly head again.

First, yes, physical things do “degrade” but we also have books that are hundreds of years old. So please, tell me again how many times a physical book can be read before it magically ceases to be readable. Next, back that number up with something vaguely like proof.

Second, this argument seems to at least imply that digital content doesn’t eventually become unreadable. Yes, it doesn’t physically degrade, but I’ve got some early MS Reader content, that I “purchased” that is no longer readable short of re-“purchasing” it in a newer format due to DRM issues.

You can’t have it both ways folks.

Read the full article @ Media Shift.

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