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Traveler321

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Registered: 10/01/16
Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 10:52 AM
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I am still wondering what happens to an authors books after they pass away, at least as far as the self-publishing side goes. The paperbacks live on, but the ebooks end up dying out with the original purchase owners (at least that is how it appears).

So here is a crazy idea, if an author's works become unpublished then Amazon should allow the ebook owners to sell their ebooks on the platform in the secondary market as "used". This would keep the ebook out there available again.

Right now i can't imagine paying the prices for some of these ebooks that end up "worthless". At least it would bring in a market for the ebooks after the fact. And if the author decides while alive to unpublish then the same thing happens, they still allow them to be sold.

Am I missing something here?

Also wouldn't it be a possible benefit if Amazon had those of us sign a non-binding contract that allows them to sell our books for a certain amount of time even after death? I hate to bring up a morbid topic but I've already almost died a couple of times.

PS I see in an article that Amazon is developing a used ebook marketplace.
Diana Persaud

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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 11:02 AM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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Your post doesn't make sense. Why would you want to give up your rights or earn even less for an ebook?

Used books are sold at a reduced price because of wear and tear. Ebooks don't have any wear and tear because they are digital. Furthermore, it would take me all of one second to create a secondary copy and sell it a million times if they allowed ebooks to be resold.

When you die, depending on your wishes, your copyright belongs to your heirs. They can continue to collect money IF they promote and sell the books. Otherwise, yes, those books won't be sold and no one will make money on it.

Get with a lawyer and do your will.
thrasherll

Posts: 5,049
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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 12:28 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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Traveler321 wrote:
I am still wondering what happens to an authors books after they pass away, at least as far as the self-publishing side goes. The paperbacks live on, but the ebooks end up dying out with the original purchase owners (at least that is how it appears).

So here is a crazy idea, if an author's works become unpublished then Amazon should allow the ebook owners to sell their ebooks on the platform in the secondary market as "used". This would keep the ebook out there available again.

Right now i can't imagine paying the prices for some of these ebooks that end up "worthless". At least it would bring in a market for the ebooks after the fact. And if the author decides while alive to unpublish then the same thing happens, they still allow them to be sold.

Am I missing something here?

Also wouldn't it be a possible benefit if Amazon had those of us sign a non-binding contract that allows them to sell our books for a certain amount of time even after death? I hate to bring up a morbid topic but I've already almost died a couple of times.

PS I see in an article that Amazon is developing a used ebook marketplace.


I'm pretty sure there have been cases in which people who inherited an author's copyright have made a mint years later when someone decided the book would make a good movie or TV show. Years ago when I had an agent, a movie company contacted her about movie rights for one of my short stories; they ended up not doing it, but that short story is still available in a compilation I published. Maybe my heirs will someday make millions from a movie option on it.

L. L. Thrasher
Emily Veinglory

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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 12:29 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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The ebooks can be published by their heirs, and eventually by anyone, just like paperbacks. That seems sufficient to me.
cub06h

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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 1:47 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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Whoever inherits your family silver will also inherit your copyrights. If you want the copyrights to go to someone else, write that into your will.
Mrs Julia Evans

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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 1:49 PM   in response to: cub06h in response to: cub06h
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NJ,

Have you gone undercover again? ;)
Salamander Mall...

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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 2:25 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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Ever hear of a last will and testament? As always, it's the copyright that's inherited, not the format. What happens to literary properties after the writer's death is no one's business but the beneficiary.
jtm1048

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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 2:48 PM   in response to: cub06h in response to: cub06h
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There's a handle I haven't seen in a long time.
Traveler321

Posts: 203
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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 4:07 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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There are authors who have no will and testament, I guarantee you that. A huge recording star recently died without one as an example.

Now let's say a hypothetical author is living in a house near a cliff and the whole place goes, or it could be a tsunami or massive fire. Anyway all records including computers, rough drafts, wills, email accounts and other things can't be recovered. What happens?

Amazon has to pull their books off the market as the bank account is frozen. Nobody comes in to claim ownership either.

All of their books are essentially gone as marketable items since they were sold as ebooks only.

Now what could happen?

Amazon sends an email to everyone who purchased an ebook saying that these popular ebooks have been unpublished since the author isn't available and that allows them to sell them in the secondary ebook market according to the contract. Sellers can set whatever price the market will bear. Some decide to put up their ebooks, which would only be available to trade on Amazon's platform as an exclusive.

The author now has their work being traded just like in the old days, only it is done electronically as a "used" ebook.

Depending on how many ebooks an author sells, there may be many in the market or just a few. But there won't be ebooks going unavailable as long as some agree to sell and trade.

Why can't this be a possibility?
novalray

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Registered: 10/31/11
Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 4:26 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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I have my books set up in an LLC with my wife and children listed as members. If something happens to me the money still goes to my LLC account which they have access to. I also have a flash drive with all of my latest book information on it as well as an envelope with all of my passwords. My children know where this is so problem solved. All this is updated every time I put out a new book.
Salamander Mall...

Posts: 314
Registered: 10/16/17
Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 4:27 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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Traveler321 wrote:
There are authors who have no will and testament, I guarantee you that. A huge recording star recently died without one as an example.

Now let's say a hypothetical author is living in a house near a cliff and the whole place goes, or it could be a tsunami or massive fire. Anyway all records including computers, rough drafts, wills, email accounts and other things can't be recovered. What happens?

Amazon has to pull their books off the market as the bank account is frozen. Nobody comes in to claim ownership either.

All of their books are essentially gone as marketable items since they were sold as ebooks only.

Now what could happen?

Amazon sends an email to everyone who purchased an ebook saying that these popular ebooks have been unpublished since the author isn't available and that allows them to sell them in the secondary ebook market according to the contract. Sellers can set whatever price the market will bear. Some decide to put up their ebooks, which would only be available to trade on Amazon's platform as an exclusive.

The author now has their work being traded just like in the old days, only it is done electronically as a "used" ebook.

Depending on how many ebooks an author sells, there may be many in the market or just a few. But there won't be ebooks going unavailable as long as some agree to sell and trade.

Why can't this be a possibility?


Because it's silly. If anyone dies intestate, writers included, and there is no wife, husband, son, etc to make a claim, then the State becomes the Executor. All property, real and intellectual, enters probate. There will be beneficiaries, no matter what. Really, inheritance laws have been around a long time.
resteasy

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Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 5:25 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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If you make a will saying everything you own passes to your heirs, in order of inheritance you wish, then ownership will be delivered in that order. Effectively to pass down the line. If you don't make a will, there's always a risk the government will pocket it.

Edited by: resteasy on Oct 23, 2017 5:29 PM
thrasherll

Posts: 5,049
Registered: 06/27/12
Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 5:32 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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Traveler321 wrote:
There are authors who have no will and testament, I guarantee you that. A huge recording star recently died without one as an example.

Now let's say a hypothetical author is living in a house near a cliff and the whole place goes, or it could be a tsunami or massive fire. Anyway all records including computers, rough drafts, wills, email accounts and other things can't be recovered. What happens?

Amazon has to pull their books off the market as the bank account is frozen. Nobody comes in to claim ownership either.

All of their books are essentially gone as marketable items since they were sold as ebooks only.

Now what could happen?

Amazon sends an email to everyone who purchased an ebook saying that these popular ebooks have been unpublished since the author isn't available and that allows them to sell them in the secondary ebook market according to the contract. Sellers can set whatever price the market will bear. Some decide to put up their ebooks, which would only be available to trade on Amazon's platform as an exclusive.

The author now has their work being traded just like in the old days, only it is done electronically as a "used" ebook.

Depending on how many ebooks an author sells, there may be many in the market or just a few. But there won't be ebooks going unavailable as long as some agree to sell and trade.

Why can't this be a possibility?

Under the rule of INTESTACY, if no heirs can be located ESCHEAT happens. Some of the 50 states have variations on who qualifies as an heir -- great-grandchild of a third cousin twice-removed, for example -- but I think the essentials are pretty much the same. I don't know about the law in other countries.

L. L. Thrasher

Edited by: thrasherll on Oct 23, 2017 5:33 PM
corrected punctuation

booknookbiz

Posts: 4,002
Registered: 03/04/10
Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 9:55 PM   in response to: Traveler321 in response to: Traveler321
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Traveler321 wrote:
There are authors who have no will and testament, I guarantee you that. A huge recording star recently died without one as an example.

Now let's say a hypothetical author is living in a house near a cliff and the whole place goes, or it could be a tsunami or massive fire. Anyway all records including computers, rough drafts, wills, email accounts and other things can't be recovered. What happens?

Amazon has to pull their books off the market as the bank account is frozen. Nobody comes in to claim ownership either.

All of their books are essentially gone as marketable items since they were sold as ebooks only.

Now what could happen?

Amazon sends an email to everyone who purchased an ebook saying that these popular ebooks have been unpublished since the author isn't available and that allows them to sell them in the secondary ebook market according to the contract. Sellers can set whatever price the market will bear. Some decide to put up their ebooks, which would only be available to trade on Amazon's platform as an exclusive.

The author now has their work being traded just like in the old days, only it is done electronically as a "used" ebook.

Depending on how many ebooks an author sells, there may be many in the market or just a few. But there won't be ebooks going unavailable as long as some agree to sell and trade.

Why can't this be a possibility?

{sigh} Because, while, sure, there are people so brainless that they'll allow their assets to be horribly diminished, by dying intestate, most adults who have anything at all will not die intestate. Married adults can pretty much die intestate all they want; aside from any tangible assets that they brought to the marriage--and continued to NOT use for the benefit of the marital estate--it will go to their spouse, lock stock and barrel. (Barring, as I said, prior-owned assets that weren't used for the benefit of the marital estate, or anything held out due to a pre-nup.) So, that addresses that scenario.

As far as the used ebook market, you DO realize, I trust, that authors do not get a single dime, not a penny, from the trading of used books, right? Ixnay? Nada? Nix, nein, zip? So, what author in their right mind is going to want to see the establishment of a used eBook market? Do you seriously think that it would somehow magically be limited to the books of dead, post-copyright (or not) heirless authors?

Lastly, you know what it would take to be able to safely declare that the rights to a book don't belong to "anyone?" ANYONE? That no 5th cousin or nth-something-twice-removed exists? Why on earth would a reseller want to take that risk? Who would absorb the legal fees, of establishing that book X had no heirs or devisees? Nobody is going to want to have to turn over the proceeds from a given book to the "rightful heir," especially if that someone spent a few thousand bucks trying to prove that that person never existed in the first place--right? And what if the rightful heir sues? Oish, this is a dog's breakfast looking for a place to happen.

It's utterly DAFT. The legal fees would be in the thousands, just to do a simple search for rights-holders. eBooks typically don't earn enough to pay for that type of anchor weight on their profitability. And what would that "used" ebook sell for? And, for that matter, how can it be USED? It's not like it's a paper book. Why sell it used, if the copyright holder is dead, gone, buried, and sans heirs? Why not just sell it new? It's bloody digital, after all. No such thing as "used," gently or otherwise.

And lastly--do you realize what you're suggesting? To suggest that it's okay to rip off an author's estate's earnings, if you can't figure out to whom that estate belongs? That's what you're talking about--using someone else's work, someone else's property, for the benefit of the person slimy enough to get in there and get the "rights" to the allegedly used book to resell it on this Fantastical Used eBook Market. Not for the author, not for the author's heirs--nope, some scumbag like the people we see here, that persist in trying to sell "master resale" books,or take other author's books change the title and the character names, and make sales off of them. Or worse. If the guy down the street from you dies, with allegedly no will, and no heirs, _do you think you have the right to just take his car and sell it_? His furniture? His savings, his house--what? What's the difference? What, that there are laws that will stop you from doing that, and slap you in jail, whereas with copyright, you mostly "just" get sued?

It never ceases to amaze me how cavalier other people are with the copyrights of authors. I usually get to hear things about how "the author's dead, the book should be in the PD," etc., in discussions about piracy and digital book theft, but I'm surprised to see it here in this context.

Nope. Those are a few reasons, right off the top of my head. If you want, give me a day or two, and I can probably give you 25 more why it won't and can't work. Not legally, and not from any common-sense standpoint.

Hitch
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An Amazon Professional Conversion Service : http://amzn.to/29pWZSg
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Traveler321

Posts: 203
Registered: 10/01/16
Re: Hypothetical on ebooks becoming worthless
Posted: Oct 23, 2017 11:22 PM   in response to: booknookbiz in response to: booknookbiz
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booknookbiz wrote:
{sigh} Because, while, sure, there are people so brainless that they'll allow their assets to be horribly diminished, by dying intestate, most adults who have anything at all will not die intestate. Married adults can pretty much die intestate all they want; aside from any tangible assets that they brought to the marriage--and continued to NOT use for the benefit of the marital estate--it will go to their spouse, lock stock and barrel. (Barring, as I said, prior-owned assets that weren't used for the benefit of the marital estate, or anything held out due to a pre-nup.) So, that addresses that scenario.

As far as the used ebook market, you DO realize, I trust, that authors do not get a single dime, not a penny, from the trading of used books, right? Ixnay? Nada? Nix, nein, zip? So, what author in their right mind is going to want to see the establishment of a used eBook market? Do you seriously think that it would somehow magically be limited to the books of dead, post-copyright (or not) heirless authors?


This has nothing to do with that, as people can sell used paperbacks of your works right now and you get nothing either. So why is selling a purchased ebook any different? If they purchase the work, they should own it to do whatever they want as long as it is within the framework of the Amazon marketplace (they would control the market for them).

The caveat is the work has to be *unpublished as an ebook* for them to be allowed to be sold, so they wouldn't compete with the author.

If they can sell used paperbacks, selling a "used" ebook is the same thing.
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