Tag Archives: author’s rights

Who Owns Your E-Book Library?

If you purchase a physical copy of a book then the purchased copy becomes your property. You can lend or if you are so inclined destroy the book as it is yours to do with as you please provided that you do not copy or pass the work off as your own. The position as regards e-books is not so straightforward. On purchasing an e-book the buyer gains the right to access the content but not to lend or otherwise distribute it. I must confess to having been under the impression that the right to read my e-book library perishes when I draw my final breath. However according to an interesting article Amazon confirm that it is possible to leave your e-book library to your heir, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/08/1205979/-e-books-who-owns-my-digital-library.

As an author and reader of e-books I believe that an electronic book should be viewed as the property of the purchaser provided that he or she does not pass the work off as their own or copy the book. To me it is fundamentally unfair to pay for a product only to be told that you do not, in fact own it. Consequently I am somewhat reassured by Amazon’s statement that e-books can be passed on to one’s heir. I guess the interesting question is what happens if Amazon goes out of business. Unlikely in the near future but stranger things have happened.

(My collection of short stories, “The First Time” is free in the Amazon Kindle store from 4-8 October, http://newauthoronline.com/2013/10/04/free-book-promotion/).


I spent a frustrating half hour or so yesterday evening trying to enrol my collection of short stories, The First Time in KDP Select. My other collections: Sting In The Tail and An Act Of Mercy (together with my short story, Samantha)are all enrolled which provides me with the ability to promote them, free of charge for upto 5 days in any 90 day period. However The First Time just wasn’t playing ball! I’ve emailed Amazon and await their reply. In fact I suspect that I know the answer. The First Time unlike my other books was published using the services of a self-publishing company who, among other activities had responsibility for sending my book to e-book outlets in order that it would appear in their catalogues. I’m drawn to the conclusion that only the self-publishing outfit possess the ability to take action in respect of The First Time which is rather a pain in the neck!

The above highlights the importance of authors understanding what, precisely we are signing when it comes to contracts. Yes I did read the document prior to appending my squashed spider scrawl otherwise known as a signature but the fact that I wouldn’t have full control regarding the distribution of my book never registered. If I use the services of a self-publishing company again I’ll be sure to ensure that I retain the flexibility to send my work to publishers etc.