Would you like bytes with that? Buy a p-book, get an e-book…sort of

Sales clerk: “May I help you?”
Customer: “Yes.  I’d like a CD of the White Album.”
Sales clerk: “We have them right behind you…next to Beatles Rock Band.”
Customer: “Thank you.” (Takes the CD and starts to leave)
Sales clerk: “Wait!  You forgot to pay for that.”
Customer: “Oh, I don’t need to.  I bought the record.”
Sales clerk: “You bought…”
Customer: “Yes.  In 1968, when it first came out.”
Sales clerk: “On vinyl…the double album.”
Customer: “Right.  So I don’t need to buy it again.  I already paid for it once.”
Sales clerk: “You already…listen, the store had to pay for that CD.”
Customer: “Why?  Didn’t the store pay for it in 1968?”
Sales clerk: “Security!”

Well, that seems ridiculous, right?

It comes up from time to time on the Amazon Kindle forums…somebody wants free Kindle books because they bought the paperbook.  They often suggest Amazon should just give them to them.  They are usually treated to some “Silly rabbit…” kind of remarks:

  • Amazon wouldn’t have the right to do that
  • The company that owns the paperbook (p-books) rights may not own the e-book rights
  • Amazon has to pay for every e-book download, just like they do for p-books they sell
  • Why would they do that?  People are buying both now…why mess with that?

Those are all good points.  The weird thing is that Amazon does make an e-book available to you when you buy some p-books…and that clearly has created some confusion. 

Amazon Upgrade

First, some key points:

  • These are NOT Kindle books (you read them onlilne)
  • They charge you for them
  • It’s not available on all that many books (looked like 68,984 to me)
  • It’s only for US customers
  • It’s paid for by 1-Click
  • You can annotate and search the book
  • You can print pages
  • You can bookmark and tag
  • You can start reading it before the p-book even gets to you
  • You can go back and buy the Amazon Upgrade version after you’ve bought the p-book
  • If you sell the p-book, the Amazon Upgrade doesn’t go with it
  • There are special use limitations, but other family members (with restrictions) can use it
  • You can’t just buy the e-book access: you have to buy the p-book
  • Upgrades don’t seem to be available for Kindle purchases

You can see an overview from Amazon here.

You can see the Amazon Upgrade store here.

Right now, they are letting you try it out (at the store) for free with the CliffsNotes for Huckleberry Finn.

Out of curiosity, I clicked the link that let me see which books I bought previously where I would have the option to buy the Amazon Upgrade access.   There were a handful of books, and upgrade prices ranged from $1.49 to $5.99.

I could actually see doing this for a reference book that I wanted to search, annotate, and clip…just like I do with my Kindle books.

Separate from all this, some publishers do give you an e-book version when you buy a p-book, but that’s up to them.  For example, some computer books come with a CD, and some allow web access.

Hope that helps clear it up, and alerts you to a little known program. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

One Response to “Would you like bytes with that? Buy a p-book, get an e-book…sort of”

  1. Amazon announces Kindle MatchBook: discounted e-books for previous p-book buys | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Would you like bytes with that? Buy a p-book, get an e-book…sort of […]

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