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[FYI] (Fwd) FC: Authors urge Amazon to limit sales of used books

------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent:      	Wed, 10 Apr 2002 21:34:06 -0400
From:           	Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
To:             	politech@politechbot.com
Subject:        	FC: Authors urge Amazon to limit sales of used books
Send reply to:  	declan@well.com

An excellent example of the diverging economic interests of authors
and readers, with Amazon caught in the middle...

Relevant links:

News coverage:



Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2002 16:40:36 -0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)
From: "Matthew G. Saroff" <msaroff@pobox.com>
To: <declan@well.com>
Subject: I don't believe this.....I'm on Amazon's side

 Authors are trying to bully Amazon.
> Group blasts Amazon's used-book sales

> By "aggressively promoting" sales of used books on its site,
> Amazon.com is snatching money out of authors' pockets, says a group
> representing 8,000 published authors.

 I hate it when I have to be on Amazon's side.  When you are done with
a book, it's your right to give it away, sell it, or feed it to your
pet Python. -- Matthew G. Saroff


Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2002 17:39:49 -0600
To: pschroeder@publishers.org
From: Tim Lieberman <tim@electricmindcontrol.net>
Subject: Amazon & Used Books - bad practice; legislation not the
answer Cc: politech@politechbot.com, w-politics@two.pairlist.net


I read with interest today's NYT Article "Online Sales Of Used Books
Draw Protest".  I wholeheartedly agree that your organization should
be pressuring Amazon to change their used-book system.  I will defend
your right to advocate for authors and publishers when members of the
retail industry are hurting you.

I'll also agree that Amazon is a sleazy company, and I have boycotted
them for several years due to their "business method patent"
philosophy.  I'm sure you remember the one-click ordering patent
fiasco a few years back.

In the article you are quoted thusly:

"The biggest problem is that it is legal, I think. I wring my hands,
pound my desk and say, `Aargh.'"

I must object to this statement.  Legislation banning the sale of used
books is a terrible idea.  There are several reasons I can think of.

 1) The current push by many in the entertainment/publishing industry
    for stronger, if not draconian, copyright expansions already has
    too much momentum.  Looking for legislation to remove or weaken
    the first-sale doctrine is very likely to anger many, many people.

  Perhaps it would be palatable if publishers would guarantee
    a consumer's satisfaction with a particular book.  If I think the
    writing is poor, the author is dumb, or just don't like the book,
    you'll take it back.  Until you're ready to do that, I for one
    (as an individual) want to be able to resell the junk you've 	  
me, either to an individual, or to a dealer of used books.

  The existence of dealers is necessary, as the logistics of
    finding a buyer for a poor publication are considerable.  If I've
    already given your author my time (which I now feel has been
    wasted), I certainly object to having to waste more time looking
    for an individual buyer.

     I digress.  Simply put, the idea of criminalizing the sale
    of used books is a slap in the face of public interest.

 2) Copyright is a "granted" right, my right to sell what I've bought
    is a "protected" (Natural?) right.  The language of the U.S.
    Constitution is quite clear.  Copyright is a means to an end,
    that end being the "promotion of the useful arts and sciences".
    The preservation of the People's rights is an end in itself.  My
    right to sell what I've purchased must override the (artificial,
    granted, means-to-a-noble-end) right of authors and publishers
    to control their works.

 3) The same arguments used about used books could too easily be
    applied to libraries.  I don't think I need to elaborate here.

 4) The Used Book Market has definate benefits for both consumers and
    your industry.  Many of these goods are also provided by
    libararies. I've often check out a book, or bought an inexpensive
    used copy in order to evaluate an author.  If the evaluation was
    positive, I've purchased other works by that author new. 
    Sometimes I even buy a new copy (sometimes hardcover) of the work
    that I initially bought used.

 Please understand that I respect your objection to Amazon's policy.
They are biting the hand that feeds them.  Use any market leverage you
can muster to defeat the practice and protect the interests of those
that you represent.  But please, please, don't start trying to abridge
the freedoms of all Americans.  It's a simple case of just and unjust
means to an end.

Thanks for Reading,

Tim Lieberman
Boulder, CO


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