Amazon To Set Up Secondhand Ebook Marketplace

Amazon wants to sell your used ebooks.

It recently won a patent to allow people to hock off their read ebooks on its marketplace.

Of course, ebooks don’t suffer from wear and tear, but think of the resale process as more of a way to transfer your book licences. This is already in action in a way—users can currently “lend” out Kindle books, which then disappear from your device as your friend holds the copy in their digital libraries.

Another service called ReDigi also exists, launched about a year-and-a-half ago. The company has pointed out that Amazon’s patent, filed in 2009, employs a different technique of reselling, where a copy of an Amazon book is downloaded to a new device as the old one is deleted from the original owner’s bookshelf.

ReDigi says that its method is different: a user’s copy is “moved” to ReDigi’s servers before it is downloaded to the new device. The company says this means that the book isn’t copied, and that only originals move around. Sounds like semantics to me, since Amazon’s method allows for only one copy at a time, anyway.

Nonetheless, the startup must be dismayed. Amazon’s patent indicates that it wants dibs not just on your digital products but their afterlife as well, which doesn’t bode well for other online secondhand marketplaces.