As Good As New: ReDigi Plans to Start Selling Used E-Books
Could a new kind of market for books help save the business? This local company thinks so.
Hereâ€™s something to ponder: What if thereâ€™s money to be made in selling used e-books? A Boston startup called ReDigi plans to start doing just that this summer, using the model by which the company began selling used digital music in 2011.
The key, says ReDigiâ€™s CEO, John Ossenmacher, is software that gives digital goods â€śphysicality.â€ť ReDigi wants to take legally purchased e-books off your computer, digitally watermark them, and then store them on a cloud-based server. Once you sell a certain title, your access to that file would be blocked.
The notion of â€śphysicalityâ€ť is critical to ReDigiâ€™s legal viability. If you truly own your e-book files, the company argues, you should be able to resell them, just as you can resell a regular book. Capitol Records doesnâ€™t buy that idea when it comes to music. The company sued ReDigi in 2012, claiming there is no way to transfer files without copying them. On March 30, a district court judge sided with the record company, though ReDigi plans to appeal and says it will move ahead with its e-book market.
Meanwhile, publishers are wondering what the new market would mean for them. â€śWhy would anyone purchase a new e-book at a higher price when they could buy the same thing for less?â€ť asks Allan Adler, of the Association of American Publishers.
One reason, Ossenmacher says, is scarcity. If ReDigi can define an e-book as a physical object, a buyer can purchase a used title only if a seller has made it available. Plus, neither publishers nor authors derive income from the existing multibillion-dollar used-book market. With digital used books, ReDigi plans to deliver copyright holders a cut of each resale.
Legal issues aside, many analysts feel these markets are almost inevitable. Amazon has acquired a patent for its own used-digital-media market. Already, each Amazon book page has a space for the price of a used Kindle edition. Itâ€™s still blankâ€”for now, anyway.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/article/2013/04/30/redigi-selling-used-e-books/