Reseller Rights for Ebooks
May 30, 2011 6:52 PM   Subscribe

There are numerous web sites reselling ebooks or even offering memberships for unlimited downloads (generally for a seemingly nominal fee). One example of a site like this is So assuming any of these sites are legally doing this, how do they get the rites to resell the ebooks? How would someone go about getting similar rights?
posted by Monkeyzulu to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
The Reading Site is a collection of links to ebooks. They do not claim that the ebooks they link to are being distributed legally (in fact, they disclaim it; see below). They are not distributing the books themselves, and I strongly doubt that most of the sites they are linking to are distributing them legally.


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posted by toxic at 7:00 PM on May 30, 2011

Put simply, these sort of sites are a way to separate fools from their money. If you get "name brand" books from them at all, it will be from links to already existing pirated copies that you could probably have found on your own anyway. But there's a good chance you won't even get that -- in some of these that have been investigated previously, all they do is point you to places like Feedbooks and Project Gutenberg, making them legal but pointless. That picture of on their front page? Just decoration, not a factual statement...
posted by robt at 7:58 PM on May 30, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks guys for the help! What is a warez site and a shill?

If these are illegal how do go about getting rights to sell legal ebooks? Anyone know how to get started looking into selling legit ebooks? Does anyone know who to talk to or where to look into getting rights to sell name brand ebooks and what something like that cost? Thanks!
posted by Monkeyzulu at 4:31 AM on May 31, 2011

A warez site is a website which caters for people who want to download copyrighted books, software, music, films etc. without paying the usual price for them, usually illegally. They sometimes contain accurate, free information and sometimes charge the ignorant for links that can be found for free, as per thereadingsite.

I don't wish to be unkind, but if you don't know anything about ebook publishing, you're not going to be able to sell 'name brand' ebooks, by which I assume you mean ebooks by bestselling authors. You will be competing head-to-head with Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble. You will need world-class expertise in DRM, negotiating with major publishers, copyright law, website development, online payment, marketing etc. And even if you have all of those things, you'll get nowhere, because you're not already a hugely successful online retailer.

There is a business model in writing, publishing and selling your own ebooks which is more achievable. It's a bit shady (lots of the books prey on needy people e.g. 'How to Stop a Breakup Guaranteed' or 'How to make $500 a week working from home Guaranteed' or 'How to beat cancer with crystal healing Guaranteed'), but there are people who make money from it.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:26 AM on May 31, 2011

posted by IndigoJones at 5:41 AM on May 31, 2011

Response by poster: That is not unkind you are just trying to help : ) Yeah I am aware that we would be competing against big names. I am just wondering if anyone had any insight on how to go about the first step to dealing with major publishers and the process to go about it? We have some of the other pieces at our disposal but we were looking into different models and their feasibility.

Your post of was really helpful! Thanks!
posted by Monkeyzulu at 6:02 AM on May 31, 2011

One thing you should be aware of is that all of the big six publishers have now switched to the "agency" pricing model. This means that the publisher has complete control of the retail price, and the retailer only gets a fixed percentage. It also means that retailers cannot compete on price, because the ebook will be priced the same no matter where you buy it. So if you're going to compete with Amazon or Apple you have to do it solely on things like how nice the display on your device is and how good your customer service is. Needless to say those two companies have a laser-like focus on those things so it would be extremely hard to compete. And the publishers are terrified of piracy, which means that if your retail solution doesn't involve hardware-based DRM you're probably not going to get a foot in the door.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:02 AM on May 31, 2011

As suggested above, most of those sites are pirate sites... and some seem to exist just to make sure your credit card number is bouncing around in Russia or Belarus.

That said...

1) Selling "brand name" ebooks is not likely to be a feasible outcome.

2) *Promoting* brand name ebooks, however, is a burgeoning business. Go to, and you'll find hundreds (thousands?) of books written by other people-- promote the websites that sell those books, and you can get commissions on each sale, typically in the 50-75% range. It's *very* commonplace to make more on each sale than the author... which isn't a bad deal at all.

3) If you wish to present yourself as an author, there's a sub-industry built around Private Label Rights, or "PLR," that might well be of interest to you. Basically, you buy rights to PLR works in order to resell them-- perhaps modified, perhaps not-- to the mass market. PLR works can take the form of software, ebooks, promotional articles, or other materials, and depending on the exact deal offered, can include the right to name yourself as the author.

Depending on the product, you can find PLR works at pretty much any price, and you can probably get an ebook for $100. For that matter, you can commission someone to write a book for you for a few hundred.

Just Google PLR-- you'll find plenty of info. Or to see some of the deals being bandied about, go to warriorforum.

Odd as it sounds, if you get your ducks in a row and become sufficiently good at web marketing, PLR can be a very lucrative business.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:42 PM on May 31, 2011

Response by poster: This is great information! Thanks guys! I will let you know if I have more questions!
posted by Monkeyzulu at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2011

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