Amazon announces Kindle MatchBook: discounted e-books for previous p-book buys

Amazon announces Kindle MatchBook: discounted e-books for previous p-book buys

Big, big, big news!

From the very beginning of the Kindle store, people have been asking why they couldn’t get an e-book for free or a reduced cost if they already owned the p-book (paperbook).

There were good reasons why it wasn’t happening, and much of it had to do with an unawareness of Amazon’s relationship with publishers.

Amazon can’t just scan a p-book and give you that elementary e-book for free…that’s not within their legal rights.

I wrote something about this nearly four years ago:

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

However, I have said that it is something Amazon might be able to arrange with publishers…not do it simply on their own, but get authorization. You can think of that a bit like Kindle Worlds: that’s not simply unauthorized fan fiction. Amazon pays a rightsholder to allow people to write fiction in that world.

Now, in this

press release

Amazon announces

Kindle MatchBook

This not only a most requested feature…it’s incredibly good. 🙂

You will be able to purchase e-books of p-books that you bought from Amazon for price ranging from $2.99 down to free.

This goes all the way back to books you bought in 1995.

It won’t happen for all books right away, but Amazon will let you know which books are available for the program.

Believe me, I will be all over this when it launches in October!

I would not currently want a p-book when I bought an e-book…I don’t really buy p-books for myself any more. I mean, I love books…I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager with something like 10,000 p-books on shelves in my house. However, I’ll repeat myself: I love books, which doesn’t mean that I love p-books over e-books. E-books have a lot of advantages.

Getting e-books of p-books I already own? That’s perfect for me. I’ll certainly get the free ones, and I’ll consider buying some of the others.

This will presumably continue for books going forward…so if you bought a p-book for a gift, you’d have the option to get the e-book for yourself.

Here is a key point from the press release:

“Kindle MatchBook is the latest in a series of customer benefits exclusive to the Amazon ecosystem of digital content”

This may only be available from Amazon…which makes the Kindle a much more attractive purchase for a lot of people.

Now, whenever that feels really good to me like this happens, I look for the flipside. What will be people’s complaints? What are the negatives?

One complaint seems obvious to me: “If I’d known this was coming, I wouldn’t have spent $9.99 on an e-book version two years ago.”

I can understand that one…the first book I bought as an e-book I already owned as a p-book. However, I (and you) made the rational decision as a consumer that the e-book was worth that price to me and that time…this doesn’t change what happened then, it just makes things better in the future.

“Why are they charging us anything? It’s just a digital download and they don’t cost anything to produce.”

It’s because they still need to pay the rightsholder (who can then pay the author) except in the case of books in the public domain (and those are the ones I think will be free, for the most part).

“Why isn’t XYZ book part of the program?”

It’s going to take a while to get this going…there are agreements to make, and features (like X-Ray, which gives you information about the book) to add.

“This is just a trick to force you to buy Kindles.”

Actually, no…because you can read these on free Kindle reading apps. Sure, you might prefer to read them on an EBR (E-Book Reader), and that’s not going to be an out-of-the-box option with a NOOK or a Kobo…but that’s a choice. 🙂 You can install the Kindle app on many tablets, and that’s different.

“Amazon is ripping off authors with this deal.”

What authors get is going to depend on the publishers’ deals with the authors, it’s not really Amazon in that mix…except for books from Amazon publishing.

“Amazon is trying to kill brick-and-mortar bookstores.”

Well, we hear that a lot. I think Jeff Bezos has been right when saying that Amazon doesn’t look for a way to hurt a competitor: they look for a way to improve their relationships with customers and when they do that, that may certainly hurt their competitors…but the latter isn’t the focus.

Of course, I’m really an optimist, and I know I tend to see things as being good and getting better…life’s just more fun that way, both for me and for people who encounter me. At least, that’s how I feel about it. 🙂 I also always look for ways that something feels bad to me initially to have a positive, or at least, not to have the negative motivation that seems intuitively obvious to me at first.

For the free ones, I don’t really see any reason not to do this. I know some people don’t like having lots of books in their archives/Cloud. If they aren’t re-readers, and they don’t think anyone who is or may be on their account in the future is going to read something, it does add to the noise to signal ration. I don’t feel that way, though, and if we get some sort of collection management in the Cloud, it will be less of a negative.

Hey, this may even help supply in used bookstores. There are people who may be willing to get rid of p-book copies they own if they can have the e-book at a reasonable price.

Is that moving even more of the world’s literature into Amazon’s hands? Yep, I think it will tend to do that. Conspiracy theorists…on your marks (“Wait, why is it called your ‘marks’? Are you trying to tie us into Karl Marx? Who put those marks there…and why aren’t they all exactly the same size? No way I’m doing that!”). 😉

I mentioned that I thought this year might be more about software and services than about hardware, as far as e-reading is concerned…I consider this to fit right into that idea.

Thanks, Amazon! Once again, you are innovating to give us more.

Update: my adult kid posts things  for the Boston Volunteers website, and I think this one is particularly good for the optimist/pessimist discussion:

My Significant Other would also tell you that is such a “Calvin concept”. 😉

Update: there was an idea out there that this does not include the “Big 5” publishers (HarperCollins, Random Penguin (as I prefer to call the merged entity…formerly Random House and Penguin), Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan). It does. 🙂 The books shown on the service page linked above include some from HarperCollins…here’s one example:

Dandelion Wine

They also have Prey and The Art of Racing in the Rain from HarperCollins. They may be the only Big 5 on board at this point (I haven’t checked other titles), but I think we’ll see them well represented.

Also, if you use Kindle Direct Publishing, you need to go to

to enroll your books.

The key thing, of course, is that your book does have to have (or have had?) a print version at Amazon for this to work. It only goes one way: buy a p-book, get an e-book at a special price. It’s not “buy an e-book, get a p-book at a special price”. Their FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) have some interesting information. The publisher sets the price as one of these:

  • free
  • $0.99
  • $1.99
  • $2.99

That price has to be no more than 50% of the digital list price (also set by the publisher). So, a ninety-nine cent book will have to be offered for free, if they are in this program.

I encourage KDP authors to look at the rest of the FAQs. You’ll see a link on your Bookshelf page to the program.

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

14 Responses to “Amazon announces Kindle MatchBook: discounted e-books for previous p-book buys”

  1. Zebras Says:

    This is one of those moments, you wish you could have seen into the future. Pre-Kindle, I did most of my book shopping at stores, it was fun looking for new books holding armloads of them, struggling to bring them to the counter, etc. I don’t think I ordered too many through Amazon before Kindle, and I think I have acquired most of the books I would want to re-read already, so I will be curious to see if I will want to buy any of the few I ordered from Amazon through this program. Its a great deal though.

  2. Ana Says:

    Don’t get too excited. At the start, it includes ca 10000 books, none by the Big 5 Publishers. Hopefully, it will encourage the sale of physical books after the major publishers come on board.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ana!

      Even one book would be exciting for me…that’s how much I love books. 😉

      However, I would question your statement about the “Big 5” publishers. Amazon shows you some books which will be included on the

      Kindle MatchBook

      They include some from HarperCollins (one of the Big 5)…here’s one example:

      Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

      I always tend to be in favor of excitement, enthusiasm, and passion…for me personally, I’m not likely to tell people to have less positive emotion about something, although I may not always be happy with how they express it or act on it. 🙂

  3. Ann Von Hagel Says:

    Idea: You buy a paper book for a kindle-less friend to give as a Christmas present — and get a discount version of the e-bok as well. Win Win!

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ann!

      Absolutely…that’s what I meant by this in the article:

      “This will presumably continue for books going forward…so if you bought a p-book for a gift, you’d have the option to get the e-book for yourself.”

  4. I’m back from Boston | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Amazon announces Kindle MatchBook: discounted e-books for previous p-book buys […]

  5. Common Sense Says:

    I think it’s a great idea! It will be interesting to see what comes up for me. There may be a few but I had a limited budget in the past and almost always purchased from the Amazon Marketplace rather than pay full price, even discounted, from Amazon itself. The music version of this was nice, but they also added controls that weren’t so nice (can only download to one computer, etc.).

    Over my Kindle years, a number of my old favorites have been on sale. If they were $2.99 or less, I snapped them up.

    I have over 11,000 books in my Amazon account so I definitely know what you mean by the lack of ebook management. After all my problems with such a large collection on my K3, I always download my ebooks and manage them in Calibre instead of dealing with the Manage My Kindle page.

  6. liz Says:

    I admit, I did a Neo-esque “Whoa” when I read your article. I bought p-books from Amazon for nearly a decade before the Kindle came out and continued to buy them occasionally ever since, so it should be very interesting what shows up in my list in October. I had a blast going through my MP3 list when that came out – this will be a fun trip through my historical reading!

    I re-read books frequently, so this is right down my alley. Yea!

    I’ll be curious if all my purchases from (when I lived in Germany) will also show up – I’ll let you know when I get my list. 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, liz!

      My guess is that this will just be the USA, at least at first…but I’ll be waiting to read your field report!

  7. amiteshet32 Says:

    I am glad to check all the information abuot the kindle books. Thanks for provoding this blog.

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