Amazon patent filing suggests used eBook sales are coming

February 8, 2013

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A recent Amazon patent filing suggests that the company is working on a method that will allow you to sell your used ebook. And while that may seem a bit silly to use the term used in reference to something digital, this could have some perks for those who tend to read a book only once. The catch here, this is simply a patent approval and Amazon has yet to actually announce anything.

Still, we can look at the filing. Maybe even dream some. According to the details coming from the USPTO, this is a patent for an "electronic marketplace for used digital objects." The digital objects are then broken down in to everything from ebooks, to audio and video and computer applications. In this case we seem to be focusing on the ebooks, mainly because they are solidly tied to your Amazon account and can seemingly be transferred to another person. Well, they could be transferred assuming Amazon had such as system in place.

Enter this patent. Further details in the patent filing note that "when the user no longer desires to retain the right to access the now-used digital content, the user may move the digital content to another user's personalized data store." Basically, it sounds like you are giving up your ability to access that ebook in the future. This sort of goes along the lines of taking your paper book into a used book store and getting some cash. Essentially, you are giving up your ability to access that book in the future.

The catch here will be the publishers and whether they will fight this. Or probably more accurately, how hard they will fight this. Amazon does seem to have taken some of this into consideration. The filing also mentions limits, noting that if a digital object "exceeds a threshold number of moves" the ability to move maybe suspended or terminated. Assuming Amazon roles something like this out, how willing would you be to sell your already read ebooks? Alternatively, buying a used ebook sounds like a great deal especially if there is some incentive such as a lower price tag.

[via IT Pro Portal]

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  • As long as they are patenting a specific method for reselling ebooks and not the mere *idea* of it, fine.

  • Surely the most likely reason Amazon would patent this idea is to *prevent* others from doing it. Don’t hold your breath for a product offering from Amazon.