E-book exchange

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

E-books sure are swell until you want to give them as a gift, loan one to a friend, or sell it second-hand. The technical part of that shouldn't be hard: you ought to be able to email them around or zap them to someone else's Kindle (remember "beaming" on the Palm Pilot?). Of course it's not about transferring the bits of a book. It's really about transferring the digital rights or license to someone else, and that kind of thing makes Jeff Bezos shoot out of bed at night in a cold sweat. So you're stuck. Reselling an e-book is like trying to return that chemistry textbook you dropped in the keg ice bucket in college.

CNN takes a look at why you can't give a Kindle book as a gift, and Nick Harkaway writes about selling "used" e-books. His solution, returning the license to a book for a 25% credit on a future purchase, could be a real goldmine for booksellers because it would guarantee repeat customers. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

(Harkaway link via MOBYLIVES)