The allure of e-books lies in their convenience—no heavy hardcovers to stuff in your bag, just your entire collection at your fingertips on a thin tablet. However, not every book you buy is one that you want to read again and again, which leaves some e-books sitting idly on your digital shelf after you finish them.
That may be about to change. According to Slate, Apple has filed a request for a patent of a system that will allow users to sell their digital goods—e-books, games, movies and music—either through iTunes or directly between individuals. A cut of the profits would be returned to the e-book’s publisher. Amazon was recently awarded a patent for a similar used-content exchange system.
Some may wonder why Apple and Amazon would do this. E-books don’t get dog-eared nor do their spines crack; a “used” e-book is identical to the full-price version. Slate suggests that the availability of cheaper, used e-books will expand customer bases and further combat piracy of copyrighted works.
Some experts postulate, however, that this kind of system may be bad for sales of new books. “Who would want to be the sucker who buys a book at full price when a week later everyone else can buy it for a penny?” Scott Turow, president of the Authors Guild, asked in The New York Times.