Have you heard of a company named ReDigi? It’s not exactly been in the headlines outside of music circles, but it has an interesting concept, and if you are the author of a book which is current in an e-book format you should be aware of what is going on now, and what may be going on later.
ReDigi functions as a used mp3 store. It will buy your used mp3s from you so long as you purchased them legally from e-Music or iTunes or Amazon or whoever (there is a way to determine whether each track was purchased legally, but since I am not fifteen years old I cannot explain it) and re-sell them to someone else. It does not need the permission of the artist or the artist’s label (if there is one) to do this. ReDigi, however, will pay royalties to the recording artist whose tracks are re-sold in this manner, so long as the artist belongs to ReDigi’s Artist Syndication Program (whatever that is). The person who sells the mp3 tracks to ReDigi supposedly no longer has the tracks on their iPod or computer or mp3 player afterward, (though I don’t know how ReDigi stops them from making and keeping a backup copy before they sell it), and ReDigi only sells the track once; in other words, it does not replicate it for sale among multiple buyers). And it’s entirely legal under what is called the “first sale doctrine,” which is how used book stores are able to open their doors for business, and how people can sell used books and CDs and CDs on Amazon and eBay, to name but two.
Fine. But you write books, as opposed to forming G chords. How does this affect you? ReDigi has stated outright that it is going to start selling used e-books —ones that were legally purchased by the original owner, of course — at some point in the future. Let’s assume that ReDigi is going to give authors the same deal that it is giving recording artists, and will pay each author a royalty on the resale of their book so long as said author participates in what I’ll call an “Author’s Syndication Program.” Mind you, it isn’t going to be anywhere near what you would be getting under your agreement with your publisher, or your vendor, or whoever, but at least it would be something. Or if you are already selling your books for less than a dollar, and getting cents on the dollar for each sale, do you really want your books going for less than retail on the “used” market, with a drop in your royalty? There are both pros and cons here. How does this prospective scenario — it’s down the road, but it’s coming — look to you?