Talent, a Truck, and a Good, Strong Back… and Reselling E-Books?

flamingo photo Jamie Brazil

My Smartphone is filled with songs.  Songs from artists I’ve recently discovered, songs from my youth, songs my mom used to play. I can’t think of a tune I haven’t been able to find on MUVE’s selection of 20 million songs.  Other than my monthly phone fee, I don’t pay for any of these songs.

Amazon has a similar program.  For an annual fee consumers can join a club that includes free shipping and loads of digital content delivered without any extra charges.

Last week, I read an article in Fast Company about a company that wants to help people resell the digital content they’ve purchased.  They maintain that there is no difference between physical goods and digital goods.  Two of the visionaries behind this idea are John Ossenmacher and Larry Rudolph of Redigi.

Redigi might just shake up the digital marketplace sooner rather than later.  They pay a 10-20% gratuity to the artist on the content they’ve resold. But there’s no law requiring them to offer this gratuity.  And whether or not they’ve infringed on copyrights is currently being reviewed by a federal judge. (They lost.)

Ridigi is not alone, either. Apple and Amazon both hold patents on technology that will allow their customers to resell digital content once they’re finished with it.

Since Amazon is already allowing their customers who are part of the above-mentioned program unlimited access to everything that falls under the umbrella of that program, it seems to me that:

    1. the Seattle retailer is probably one step ahead of the rest of the pack
    2. e-book authors like myself might be in  deep-shit trouble

Apologies for the profanity. I rarely use it. When I do, it’s to make a point.

Sure, experts claim a secondary marketplace only drives up sales overall.  On the other hand, even if Amazon has the technology to verify the buyer of the original content, there is zero difference between a new and used copy of my digital book. But will I be paid for the lower-priced “used” copy? (Probably not.) Who sets the price on the used copy? (Ultimately, the consumer.)  Will I lose control of my intellectual property if I publish with Amazon? (Likely.)

And what if one of the free e-books I’ve downloaded suddenly becomes popular? Can I resell it at a profit— cutting out the author entirely?

What if the popular e-book is mine?

Overall, I believe Amazon will protect authors who pledge allegiance to the company and publish exclusively with them. Hey, you can’t be king without a kingdom, right?  Plus, if history is anything to go by, Amazon has always paid their authors (other large digital content providers have fallen short).

I’ve been thinking about this resale digital marketplace a lot over the past week.  I love my unlimited FREE music.  I’ve downloaded my fair share of e-books.  I have yet to stream free movies or TV, but I certainly enjoy YouTube.  The future seems clear to me. A second life for digital books is a WHEN, not an IF.

As an author, this terrifies me.  And it also makes me kind of excited, too.

If everything in the future is virtually FREE, all the quick-buck artists hawking less-than-quality products will be run out of business.  Quality will rule the future (at least I hope so).  If everything is free, and readers enjoy what I write, they can read (AND REVIEW) my books into FREE bestseller-dom.

The only trouble with that scenario is that I still need to keep the electricity on, feed myself, etc.  Just like readers do.  Which brought to mind another possibility:

Printing my own books.  Exclusively.

Distribution: ME!

Why not?  Bands and comedians (Louis CK) are embracing direct sales to fans.  And my friend, Maggie Jaimeson (aka Maggie Faire), a true visionary in my opinion, launched Windtree Press as a way for her and other indie authors to engage and sell directly to their readers.  Why not?

So bring on the future!  In the meantime, I’ll be building my brand and searching Craigslist for a used Espresso Printing Press.  I mean, hey, the current model Espressos are already half the size and half the price of the original. By the time I get around to printing and selling my limited-edition print book, I’ll be casting about among my author friends to see who wants in.

I’ve got talent, a truck, and good, strong back… anyone have any extra space in their garage to set up shop?



Treasure Hunting in January

I love casting about for yard sale treasures.  In the Spring and Summer, there’s nothing I like more than getting in the car on a Friday or Saturday morning and heading to the early sales.  7 a.m., bring it on!  In fact, the earlier the better in my opinion.   

In my novel, Prince Charming, Inc., my heroine is swept away at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning by the man she’s trying to socially remodel for her millionairess client.  Where does he take her?  To an early morning swap meet where she discovers a treasure she cannot live without! 

The reality of Pacific Northwest garage and rummage sales in January: almost nonexistent.  Yet that doesn’t stop my treasure-hunting gene from egging me on (for some reason I’m just not much of a thrift-store-antique-mall shopper).  So I comb Craigslist.  Yesterday an ad for the Masonic Lodge made my heartbeat double.  

 Rummage!  In January!

 So what’s going to be collectible in fifty years?  I have a couple low-to-no-cost ideas:  

 1. Gift cards.  With colorful graphics, fun designs and new issues for each season, I have albums full of cards and have been collecting these since 1996.  I only collect the Starbucks cards.  Some of those already command a few bucks on auction websites.  Others, like one that features a pro baseball player, go for a lot more.  I use old business card albums to store my collection.  

  1. Electronics packaging.  Used Ipads, Iphones and some vintage electronics are already highly collectible. I once bought a sphere shaped stereo and sold it for hundreds.  As is.  But with limited storage space, I tend to stick with the small items.  Better yet, free items.  Again, going with cool graphics and superb design, nothing beats Apple.  Mac people tend to NOT throw out their packaging, yet they don’t necessarily want to keep it when they upgrade.  Yard sales aren’t exactly brimming with old I-phone boxes, but that’s where I find these treasures.  Always in the free box – hey, it beats adding more content to the landfills!  

While the Lodge sale didn’t yield any great finds for me, I did stop at a garage sale on the way home and found my first treasure of the year: an old sterling silver mirror for three dollars. Now that my stash of stuff isn’t so secret anymore, I’d love to know what YOU collect!