PG and Mrs. PG went out for lunch recently and were talking about the book business (surprise!).
On the way to the restaurant, we had passed the former home of a large used book store that closed. PG shared his understanding that many used book stores list their inventory on Amazon and observed that if he were in the used book business, he would be tempted to focus his sales efforts online instead of at a retail location.
The only printed books PG buys any more are used books from Amazon when the price of the corresponding ebook is too high for his tastes.
Both PG and Mrs. PG acknowledged feeling a twinge of remorse when purchasing a used book because, of course, the author receives none of our money for such purchases.
So, here’s a resulting PG idea.
As a service to authors, when someone buys a used book on Amazon, Amazon would give the purchaser the option of making a donation to the author of the used book. The contribution would be completely optional and the amount would be up to the purchaser. The author donation would be added to the credit card charge at checkout.
The donation option would appear only for authors who signed up with Amazon to participate in the service. Some sort of authentication would be necessary to deter scammers from signing up to receive payments for an author. All payments would go directly to authors, not to their publishers.
Amazon already has the infrastructure necessary to handle small commission payments with its Amazon Associates program. Electronic payments are made monthly to Associates, presumably at minimal cost to Amazon. The Associates program accrues amounts owed until they reach an minimum total ($10?) before a payment is made. (Here is PG’s Associates link if you need something from Amazon) PG speculates that some of the Associates infrastructure might be repurposed for an author donation program.
Passive Guy has no idea whether many used book buyers would donate or not. For those who feel a twinge of guilt when they buy a used book, he thinks this feature would generate additional used book sales through Amazon.
PG also thinks Amazon could generate a lot of goodwill from all sorts of authors with a program like this. Who knows, it might even reduce the incidence of Amazon Derangement Syndrome.
Other online sellers of used books could do the same thing. PG focused on Amazon because it sells lots of used books and already has the Associates program in place.
What do you think? Good idea or PG is full of beans?