Home » Amazon, Passive Guy, Royalties » Paying Authors for Used Book Sales on Amazon

Paying Authors for Used Book Sales on Amazon

8 August 2013

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?

Amazon, Passive Guy, Royalties

68 Comments to “Paying Authors for Used Book Sales on Amazon”

  1. But…but…but publishers would want their cut, and so would agents.

    • Yes, but they wouldn’t get a cent. It’s a donation from a reader to an author, not payment for a book.

      Besides, the first sale doctrine says the copyright holder has no claim to any of the proceeds from the resale of a physical book. Once a book is lawfully sold or even transferred gratuitously, the copyright owner’s interest in the material object in which the copyrighted work is embodied is exhausted.

  2. That would do a lot to quell the guilt I feel when I buy used. This is a great idea, PG.

  3. Shouldn’t this go one step further and automatically include a percentage for the author in the price. After all this is still the authors ‘intellectual property’ and copyright, in most cases, will not have expired?

  4. Something tells me that implementing this would be a bit like herding cats. But then again, getting any large group of authors to do anything together usually is.

    • It could be limited to authors who regularly comment on The Passive Voice, Joe. :)

      • And who cooperate, and sign up properly.

        It’s a perfect idea – for the transition period of buying used books. An easy way to say thanks directly to someone who gave you pleasure.

        Sort of like the system they have in parts of Europe, where borrowing a library book puts some money in a pot for the authors, but more personal.

      • Ha ha ha ha ha! Love your condition, PG! :D

    • Even more deviously delightful: it could be limited to authors that have items for sale through KDP. If you’re on KDP then Amazon all the information necessary to pay you and keep track of used-sale donations. Authors not on KDP would then have motivation to put up a short story for sale to get in the system.

  5. Great Idea. I recently bought a used book from Amazon and wished I could send a few dollars to the Author. Knowing Amazon though, they might still want a cut.

  6. The crazy people would spin it as Amazon turning authors into panhandlers.

  7. If the authors got a buck for each sale, Tortuga, I suppose some of them would not have a problem.

    To modify your Modest Proposal, it could be handled by the author. All they need is an amazon account. Turn on the begging bowl, provide the information for a direct deposit, and you’re off.

  8. I think it’s a splendid idea. It’s sort of “green,” too, because buying used books is like recycling.

  9. PG – good in theory – but it would be a pain to implement and manage. Not from the technical viewpoint but from the business side.

    For example – I decide to buy a Jules Verne, a Robert Heinlein, and a Modessit, all second hand. Maybe I add a new ebook. And at check out, a little message pops up – do you want to donate? Say I do.

    The first question to resolve is – is the amount to be per book, or overall? Exclude the ebook, of course?

    Then, how does the business determine whether there is a Jules Verne still alive, [or an estate]? Ditto Heinlein. Modessit is alive and well, so that is OK.

    What happens if the author is deceased, there are no heirs, etc – and Amazon is holding $1. Or $100.

    What if Modessit moved to Sri Lanka? What tax issues would arise? [He is still living in Utah, as far as I know].

    What if an author assigned all of his copyrights to a trust in Lichtenstein? How does the Zon track down these people, their trusts, their estates, etc.

    What if…?

    So one key issue is going to be how does Amazon disburse the proceeds in a legally accurate and defensible manner. Would it do this for free?

    I think the Zon would not thank you for the business headaches!

    [I've always had similar questions about performing artists trusts which collect royalties in a country - from e.g., radio stations - and hold these proceeds in trust, eventually distributing them to artists, local and overseas...]

    • You raise some good points, John.

      I think Amazon limits the program to living authors and only makes payments directly to them.

      This is not a royalty. It’s a donation that’s tied to the original authorship, not the ownership or license to the copyright for the book. Nobody has any right to receive a donation unless they agree to Amazon’s TOU for the donation program.

      The TOU allows Amazon to terminate participation at any time for any reason. If the situation looks sticky, Amazon doesn’t accept the author into the program.

  10. Nice! Now maybe we can get library patrons to donate a bit every time they read the author’s book free.

    • Yup, that’s right. Try and take pennies from the little kids and bucks from the unemployed and homeless. That’ll make people _really_ want to use the library more. Way to make us a nation of readers.

      Faugh.

      Because I own hundreds of used paperbacks — because I’ve read hundreds of books from libraries — I own thousands of ones I bought new, and hundreds of hardbacks also bought new, and a few thousand ebooks and audiobooks. The used bookstores and libraries should be collecting commissions from the authors, not the other way around.

      Who the heck cares about promoting midlist authors from the mid-80′s to snotnosed little teenagers with a couple bucks, except used bookstore folks and librarians? Whose customers then go on to create large library sales (by requesting books) and bookstore sales (by buying and by recommending to others)?

      Arrrrgh. Seriously, this whole topsyturvydom of the natural order makes me want to throw up.

      UPDATE: It occurs to me that since my used book purchases are probably about ten percent or less of my total book purchases, and a lot less than that in dollars, I have probably got a very unfair commission structure for the poor used bookstore guys! I assume my taxes have been plenty for the libraries, though.

    • Consumers buying my used book = I’d be okay with a donation if they wanted to give it.

      Libraries = I will always give my books away to libraries for free. I grew up seeking shelter in libraries to get away from a terrible home life, and books became my best friends and my starship to other worlds of imagination.

      I will support libraries and their ability to let readers consume words for free until either I die or libraries go the way of the VHS tape.

  11. Used books are a good thing in themselves. Used booksellers don’t deprive the author of any sales whatsoever, because that copy was already sold!

    You feel guilt when buying used books?

    What, did you also want to send donations to Follett’s board of profs and random freelancers when you bought your college textbooks used?

    Do you sit there with your wittle hearts burning to send money to the Faulkner Estate, because you read “A Rose for Emily” in your high school’s ten-year-old English books?

    How about the corporation who forced John Doe to sell them all his copyrights forever more? Don’t they deserve a donation for skillful negotiation?

    Do you feel guilty about used CDs? Vintage designer clothing? Gymshoes bought at a garage sale? Socks that your grandpa never wore and your grandma insisted you take home after he passed — are you going to send a little envelope of money to Hanes?

    Are you going to pick up every leaf on your lawn, do a DNA test, and send the tree fertilizer and water it with your tears?

    The joy of transferable property is that you can own it, and then you can sell it, and then someone else can buy it. If you want to send authors presents, send them just plain gifts on their birthdays.

    Me, I’m darned if I’m going to send money to John Doe’s ex-wife’s cousin’s dog, just because I bought a battered old paperback for a buck.

    • “Used books are a good thing in themselves. Used booksellers don’t deprive the author of any sales whatsoever, because that copy was already sold!”

      I agree, and I totally disagree. I have always loved used bookstores and libraries both. They’ve served me very well over the years. However, even now, I go look for books at the used bookstore (the awesome McKays), and then when I don’t find the ones I want, I go home and buy them new at Amazon. I don’t like buying used through Amazon and only ever do that if a new copy isn’t available. So I am a reader who completely disproves that used sales never hurt new sales. If that used copy wasn’t there, I’d be buying new. I don’t look for substitutes so that I can still buy something/anything used. I most often look for specific books I’ve already decided I want but haven’t gotten around to buying new yet.

      Even though that’s the case, as a writer, I have no problem with used book sales. I grew up being able to read many more books than would have been possible if not for used books and libraries and yard sales and all the rest. I wouldn’t ever want to take that away from someone else.

    • Suburbanbanshee – A thoroughly magnificent commentary on this mad idea.

  12. I like it, but as an author, why wouldn’t I? This plan would also separate the tightwads from those who appreciate all the work that goes into writing a book.

  13. I bought a used Camry for my daughter. I did not send a donation to Toyota USA.

    (No, I’m not comparing writers to inhuman, souless corporations.)

    As for the argument that Toyota is rich and most authors are not…maybe those authors shouldn’t have signed a trad pub contract. :)

    But this thread does reminds me of “84 Charing Cross Road”.

    Dan

  14. I kind of like the idea. No one’s forcing a purchaser to donate, it would just be an extra option added.

    Some people would do it nearly every time they bought used, others would do it here and there, and the majority would ignore the option.

  15. Maybe we could do this ourselves. Apparently, today is my day to avoid work by coming up with crazy business ideas.

    1. We create a single product [PRODUCT] to sell on Amazon which has a gazillion different variations. Instead of colors and sizes, the variations are individual authors.

    2. [PRODUCT] costs $1 and guarantees that 70 cents goes to the specified author. [Actual split TBD]

    3. The idea is that we put on a promotional push among people who buy used books to buy [PRODUCT] every time they buy a used book.

    4. That would get [PRODUCT] recommended to people who buy used books, initiating the Amazon recommendation system virtuous cycle.

    5. Authors would have to create accounts through some system (like PayPal or Gumroad).

    6. Our “seller” would just be a system to transfer the purchase money from us to the author.

  16. With print on demand and ebooks, who says that there are going to be that many used books anymore? In twenty years there might not be enough used books, or enough of a price difference, to support even a small used book industry. If there is only a dollar or so between a used book and a new copy, I’ll get the new copy because some money will go to the author. I know I buy ebooks for reading and only get a physical book if it is one I’m sure I’ll want to still have around decades down the line. Pretty sure that a big part of the used books industry is either getting reading material for cheap and/or free, which ebooks covers more or less, and out-of-print books which will be covered in print-on-demand.

    Also reminded me of discussions in the video game industry of how to deal with used game sales now that things are getting all digital. Same ‘but where will we get it for cheap’ and ‘creators should get paid’ comments. Is funny how universal some things are.

  17. Audible had an author program where if you signed up you got an extra dollar for every audio title of one of your books they sold. If this program was operated on an opt-in basis I could see it working well and not being that much of a nightmare.

    A great idea, PG.

  18. As a reader, I kind of like it. I’d be inclined to add a premium for the author, if that author weren’t a best selling gazillionaire (but is that fair, really? If the principle holds, then shouldn’t it hold whether the author needs the money or not?)

    As an author, though, I hate it. Once I’ve sold a book, it’s sold, and I definitely don’t want anyone who buys it used to feel they have to “donate” to me. I’m a professional, not a charity, and I have already been paid for that book.

  19. It’s hardly surprising that authors love the idea. Turkeys and Christmas after all. Personally I think it’s an appalling appalling idea. Writers negotiate and get paid for their books. End of story. The buyer buys the book and gets to do with it what he choses. Trying to reach out for a second bite wreaks of money grabbing greed. Sorry guys, no offence intended.

    • No one is ‘trying to reach out for a second bite’ that I can see. Authors are saying they wouldn’t mind getting a little of the money that consumers pay for used books, but they they wouldn’t demand it nor even guilt consumers into paying it.

      As an author of course I would be okay with this. As a reader, I would be more than willing to donate a little to the person who spent months, maybe even years toiling away to write the book but wouldn’t make an actual sale because the book was sold used.

      I fail to see any greed in a completely voluntary program that attempts to reward authors for their hard work and especially one that doesn’t attempt to guilt anyone into donating.

      Money isn’t the most important thing in the world, but it is nice to be compensated for the work one has put in.

      • Travis – in my humble opinion this is reaching out for a second bite.
        Hey I don’t blame you, as an author of paper books, to agree with it :-)
        But for authors to actually seek to have this plan implemented, I do believe it is greedy. And I’ve heard about the poor author toiling to make no money. Usually it’s because they have no talent and that’s the way life is.
        And yes it is nice to be compensated. But not twice over.You sign a contract to get paid for each copy sold. After that the product is no longer yours. Same for Painters, sculptors, furniture makes, etc etc etc.

  20. Before you could even begin to implement this, you’d have to educate the readers. Most of them don’t have a clue about royalties and how authors are paid, and most of them think all authors are filthy rich.

    I was in a used book store a couple of years ago and saw a customer pick up a used copy of my novel! I introduced myself and offered to sign it for her. Delighted, she handed me a pen and the book, then said, “This is great. You’ll be making money on this sale.”

    When I told her that I wouldn’t see a penny she was shocked.

  21. Full of beans, I’m afraid. I doubt Amazon would be willing to implement it, and the sellers would certainly have no incentive to do so. And then there’s guilt. Certainly, I feel some guilt (sometimes) when I buy a used print book, but I do it because I can’t afford not to. I look for the very lowest price, which often means I go to half.com instead of Amazon because their shipping is lower.

  22. PG, That’s an interesting concept with many possibilities that others have noted, but on a realtiy level, it bothers me. I’ve owned a couple of used book shops, and what always separated my shop from other new bookstores in my town was the silent fact that I selected every book and owned that book from the minute I handed its previous owner the agreed upon payment. Unlike a Borders, B&N or local indie shop, I owned all my books. I couldn’t return them for credit against my account in 90 days if the book didn’t sell. I paid the same rent and overhead costs as the retail indie, but I gambled that the books I bought would appeal to other readers, and they’d be able to discover new authors’ books inexpensively. A used bookstore is more of a service business than the tradition indie retailer that is basically the distribution department for the traditional publishing industry. Often, writers would wander into my store and thank me for investing my money to buy and shelve their books. So, while the technology exists to send some money to a writer when a used book buyer feels some guilt for opting to purchase a used copy instead of an overpriced padded new hardcover, I don’t think the payment is necessary and I don’t share that guilt. The writer got paid once already. My long departed mentor, Haskell Gruberger used to say, “We aren’t selling a cure for cancer, we’re just selling books. Price it to sell.”

  23. Fantastic idea.

    I don’t think it would touch ADS, since that mostly impacts people in the Indusrty who wouldn’t benefit from this. In fact, I suspect people in the Industry wouldn’t like this – too empowering for the author. But it would generate a great deal of goodwill from authors.

    It might also reassure them for when used ‘e-books’ come into play. It might test out ideas for that.

    It’s possible to have donate buttons set up so they don’t generate a feeling of guilt in the consumer. You do a really good job of this on your site, actually, PG.

    I like this idea. I hope Amazon reads this and does it.

  24. Margaret Rainforth

    And the last time you loaned a book to your brother or mother in law did you ask them to send a couple of bucks to the author? (Or did you?)
    One dissenting voice here. If anyone shares my book with a friend I am honored. I was paid my agreed upon price at the point of sale. After that the universe is welcome to it!

    • No, I’m just as honored as any author would be when our books get loaned to someone.

      My book being sold is a bit different. Again, I wouldn’t want it to be a pushy, guilt-ridden thing. I like to think of it more as a PayPal donation button…it’s there if you want to use it, but I’m not going to be scarred by anyone that doesn’t go for it.

  25. Most physical goods only make money for the creator/manufacturer on the first sale. They can then be sold used as your own personal property. If I sell one physical book, I don’t expect to be paid every time it resells. I sold that one book and that one book is out there in the universe. The book isn’t multiplying. It’s leaving one person’s possession and entering another’s. Let’s remember how crazy video game fans went when X-Box decided to try and get paid for used games. Let’s not get greedy here.

  26. Did you know that some people want every used bookstore to have to keep track of royalties?

    That’s how art sales work in Europe even now. Every time a painting is resold, the artist (or his estate) gets a percentage. Ugh. Someone tried to introduce the same thing over here, but I don’t think it went anywhere.

    While it might be nice to be able to kick in some money on a voluntary basis, I don’t know how any would, or how many authors would sign up, and if there’d be enough of either to make it worthwhile.

    And I’m not really sure if, morally speaking, the author deserves donations any more than the publisher. After all, they were the ones who accepted and edited and typeset and printed and (allegedly) publicized the work. Yeah, the Big Six publishers are a bunch of greedy bastards, but not every book comes from them. I’m sure there are small publishers who could use the money just as much as or more than the authors could. When people want to send Cory Doctorow money for one of his free e-books, he asks that they buy a book and donate it somewhere instead, because he wants his publisher to get their cut too.

  27. The opportunity to give money to the author exists now.

    Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch have PAYPAL buttons on their websites by which readers can donate money to them. No burden to Amazon.

    Your limit your proposal to living writers. If a writer is living, he can put up his own website and add a PAYPAL button. If he will not do that, I see no reason to obligate Amazon to act as his agent to collect and disburse monies to him.

    If you still feel guilt over your used-book purchase, you have two choices: 1) convert to Catholicism, do penance, and seek absolution for your imagined sin; or 2) Google the author’s favorite charity and make a donation to it in the author’s name.

  28. I think it’s a very good idea. Too many great books are out of print, and so when I want to buy them I have no choice but to buy used copies when I would prefer to pay the authors for their work. (Apparently some people don’t feel this way, but I think many do, or would if educated, as Maggie Dana pointed out.)

    I suspect Amazon could implement this idea with ease, if they wanted to. But back when they started selling used books, they took some significant flack from authors and publishers. Amazon might prefer to ignore the pay-authors-for-used-books idea rather than open up what they may see as can of worms.

  29. Kathlena Contreras

    PG, I think this is a great idea. I’ve been buying used books because A.) better price and B.) so as not to feed the trad pub beast. But I would love to be able to contribute to the author.

  30. I like that you are thinking outside the box PG. Sometimes I’ve thought we could be sellers of both used and new, sort of like Powells, stocking virtual shelves with both and selling both. We could actually compete with the used market by selling our own books as ‘used’ as affiliates for instance, for just a little less and WITH an autograph. We’d sell new therefor, say POD, and also ‘used’ bent cover POD for a bit less, competing with whomever and whatever price. Also my pubs offer me a significant discount on new, which I could sell online, five for x number of dollars, instead of one at a time

    Only problem is, in our state, we’re not allowed to be amazon affiliates, because of some argument between amz and the state government, so not sure it could work unless you could be an affiliate.

    Also, have sold book as an audio, as an abridged video, as a dvd with 20 illustrations the book doesnt have, along with an annotated reader’s guide, book with poster, book with brief phone call from author to say hi, etc. There are lots of ways to sell a single book in many different costumes. lol

  31. I have never felt guilty for buying a book used. Probably bc I am absurdly loyal as a reader and if you hook me, I will buy all future works new, probably on release day, so i can read them right away. If you don’t hook me, you were never going to make money on me.

    I would not sign up for this type of charity/pity party service even if i had used paper books out there. I have been paid for that copy. Any reader buying used is either at risk for buying new (making that use book a loss leader) or someone who needs that $1 more than i do.

    As to used ebooks – i have said it before: an author does not deseve to be endlessly rewarded for sucking so much everyone who reads their book resells it.* I think the answer is the equivalent of renting the ebook for a smaller price than you can buy it for. You get it for a time period, or a number if readings, and then it expires unless you like it enough to pay the difference between rental and purchase.

    *i realize this makes me sound like an a******. It stems from my reader perspective, which is that i never get rid of a book i truly liked. I am a rereader; at some point i will read that book again. My sister in law won’t reread books; she won’t even rewatch movies. I get that those people exist. However….They are not my audience. My audience is true readers and book (story) lovers – the ones who buy something they like and read it multiple times in a lifetime. So my view of resold books, even ebooks, is they transfer from those who are not my audience to those who are trying to figure out if they are my audience. Don’t need the money for those sales. If i am good enough to hook the used buyer, they will pay me for my next book.

    • I agree with you fully Lily. Personally I really find this recent tendency among some writers to feel that they have an entitlement that goes beyond the sale of their books quite distasteful. I really do. A writer signs a contract where they get paid for every book they sell. When a reader buys that book the author gets paid. End of story. The reader owns that book. If the author feels he was cheated, then he should not have signed the contract.
      Where does this end ? will General Motors start demanding a cut of every resale of their cars ? House builders a cut of every resale of their houses ? No. Your book is sold. Move on.

      • It’s not as much as feeling cheated than allowing readers, if they find it fair, to give a donation.

        Governments sometimes helps banks and even big companies with people money, you know.

        There are many trad pub authors (and I’m not one of them) who have been put unfairly out of the game : their books sold, but are no more printed, replaced by others of the same publisher. You can find them only as used books.

        If authors who quit writing suddenly began to make money with used books, perhaps that would be an encouragement to self pub.

        If a readers WANTS to thank an author for a good read that’s no more in print, why would you not give him the opportunity ? You do not want to compare apples with oranges, and books with cars or houses, no ?

        As I said below, you could put a sentence like “this used book has already been sold once and the author has been paid for it. If you still want to donate, you may, using the button below.”

    • The beauty of used books, albums, etc. is that the book that was a transitory pleasure or a dislike for one person is a treasure for another. It’s a beautiful means of distribution.

      There’s also the case of the person who must move or deploy, and doesn’t have the space or the moving money for all his books.

      Finally, the ultimate case for selling books is the person who is about to die or has passed away. You can’t take them with you, or at least it would be pretty mean to other readers if you did!

      PS – Sorry I got so nasty/passionate upthread. I owe a lot to used books.

  32. Excellent transitory idea, PG.

    I guess I’ll have to assume being a greedy author after saying that. But I live in France, where paper books are prefered rather than ebooks.

    I publish POD books, but I do not have the distribution range of big publishing. Far, far, very far from it. So I suspect my paper books are being read more than once in many cases, and that’s a great thing.

    My POD books are not cheap, and if readers find them used and cheap, I encourage them to buy them rather than the new full price ones. Still, a small donation for each would be appreciated.

    Amazon should add a statement like : “this used book has already been sold once and the author has been paid for it. If you still want to donate, you may with the button below.”

    Yeah, call me an hypocrit.

    But here’s what I fear, PG : that Amazon would only allow KDP Select authors to receive the donations. The most generous ideas can sometimes be distorted in the most awful way.

  33. First and foremost, I would never have the temerity to even suggest that PG was ‘full of beans.’ :) And I think it’s an excellent idea.

    Having said that, I also think it has a lot of moving parts, and I’m doubtful Amazon would be eager to implement it merely to garner additional good will. I also doubt it would do much to dampen Amazon Derangement Syndrome, as the folks so afflicted seem beyond reason.

    Then again, most revolutionary ideas sound a bit far-fetched when first conceived, so if PG can start a movement, I’d certainly lend what ever support I could.

  34. I love the feel and smell of a new book, but many times in my life I haven’t had the money to pay the price. Used books were all I could manage, and often not those either. Thank heaven(and our taxes)for libraries. Sometimes the used copy was interesting because a previous owner left margin scribbles, bookmarks or even old letters. Most of the time, it was just “used” as in torn, beat up, dogeared, etc. People who buy used books simply because they can only scrape up that price probably aren’t going to voluntarily add to the price.

    That said, I’m still baffled by the entire concept of a virtual book being “used”. It’s a program sent by Amazon and I tend to think of the books I have on Kindle as “loaned” anyway — Amazon can remove any program from your Kindle anytime they like and barely have to give a reason. How does my reading these ethereal virtual programs make them “used”?

    • Eugenia – I would suggest that this ‘plan’ is something that can only possibly be applied to paper books. As you say there is no such thing as a second hand eBook. This in and of itself will increase the sales of eBooks significantly. And by the lowering of eBook prices to a sensible price of $5-$7 for bestsellers, and less for non best sellers, readers will in the future be even less motivated to look for pirated copies or ‘second hand’ copies.

  35. Selling ‘books’ is not really about selling ink and paper. It is about intellectual property licensing.

    When you hear a song on the radio, the people who made the song get paid, whether you heard the song before or not. When you go to a theater and see a movie, you buy a ticket, whether you have seen the movie before or not. If, in the future, technology allows a writer to be paid every time someone reads his or her book, then the writers who post here will decline those payments. I’d like to get that in writing.

    • @ Michael – that’s a good point. Didn’t Amazon recently gain the right to sell used e-books?

      I think this is an interesting area of intellectual copyright. It may not necessarily take the same path as a physical book.

    • When I download a song, I pay for it once. I can listen to it many times. I can — under US law — copy it onto a mix tape or CD and give away that tape or CD.

      When I buy a DVD, I pay once, but I can view the matter on it many times.

      Click my name (antares) to go to my website. In the right hand column you can find my published commercial works. If you buy ‘em, you can read them many times for one fee. You don’t have to pay me each time you read them.

      You got that in writing.

      Your argument is fallacious. You used the wrong analogy.

    • “Selling ‘books’ is not really about selling ink and paper. It is about intellectual property licensing”

      Actually that’s where you’re wrong. There is no licensing involved. It is ALL about selling paper and ink. The buyer gets no IP rights. What they do get is the paper and ink, to do with whatever they chose to do, and that includes lending it to as many people as they like, selling it to anyone they like, giving it away or shredding it into a hundred million little pieces. They don’t get the right to make copies ! but they get to do what they want with the paper.

  36. @Mira ” It may not necessarily take the same path as a physical book.” Yes, and it seems to me that PG’s original idea is taking getting paid for IP, in the form of books, in a new direction.

    And Antares, it isn’t an ‘analogy’, it is called IP Licensing. Of course you do not have to pay to listen twice to a CD which you purchased, or to re-read a book which you bought. I said nothing about that. I was talking about another person reading the book, one who has not paid for it. Which is what the OP was about, I think.

  37. PG has come up with an idea that could certainly work. Those who are against it (from a reader’s POV, as a couple said) aren’t taking into account that the donation is voluntary. If you believe that an author shouldn’t receive such an “entitlement,” which I personally believe is the wrong use of the word, then you don’t have to do it. I have always lived by the rule of “Err on the side of generosity.” Writers work very hard to give people books that are provocative, imaginative, entertaining, informative, and so on and on. Most give of themselves fully, holding nothing back in their quest to give their all to their readers.. If you’d like to express your appreciation, this would be a fine way to do it. And…nothing is impossible if open-minded, smart people put their heads to it.

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