Thursday, May 14, 2009


Amazon has redeemed themselves. This has nothing to do with last month's incident, but rather with another issue of importance to me: orphan books. If you're not familiar with the term, an orphan book is one which is out of print and unavailable, but still secured by copyright law. These books are essentially lost.

Well, now Amazon is starting something called AmazonEncore. They plan to take out-of-print books which had good reviews but low sales and republish them, giving them a second chance at life. (Amazon's release didn't use the term "orphan," but some bloggers are.)

Right now, Amazon is starting with a relatively recent self-published book that will likely benefit from Amazon's marketing. However, if Amazon so chooses, they could potentially republish older works as well. Amazon is big enough to afford to buy the rights to these orphan works and put them back into print, and that would mean renewed income for the authors of those books.

This experiment definitely bears watching. I hope it takes off. I'm looking forward to seeing which direction it goes.

If you're interested in orphan books, you should also be keeping an eye on the Google Book Settlement. There's some controversy over that one. It might not be in the authors' best interest.

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