Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Kindle MatchBook Bundles Print & eBooks

Amazon announced today the imminent launch of MatchBook, a new program that bundles ebooks with their respective print editions. Now for the first time you will be able to buy a physical book from Amazon and get the Kindle edition too, either free or for a price no higher than $2.99.

And what's more, it's retroactive! Going back to 1995 when Amazon first set up shop, any purchases you've made of print editions that are included in the program qualify. So even if the book is out of print, you might theoretically still be able to acquire the ebook free, or very cheaply at any rate. That means my 1st edition hardback of American Gods that I purchased back in 2001 now qualifies me to bundle the ebook at a huge discount - twelve years later!

The caveat here, of course, is that the program only applies to titles that are enrolled - 10,000 at launch according to the press release, although this is sure to increase dramatically in short order, if everything else Amazon has ever done is any indication - and the price of the ebook can be either $2.99, $1.99, .99 cents, or free, depending on its current retail price, and the whim of the publisher.

Specifically, an ebook with a list price of $5.98 or higher can be discounted to any of the four price tiers just mentioned, while a title listed between $3.98-5.97 can only be bundled at $1.99 or less, and $1.98-3.97 titles can be either .99 cents or free. Ebooks listed at $1.97 or below can only be bundled for free. This means that even for hardbacks sold at $26.95 with an ebook edition priced at $14.95 or so, the most the bundled ebook could be priced at would be $2.99, making the cost for both in this case $29.94.

I also have to comment here on the name selected for the program. In keeping with the "kindled fire" theme, I have to say that "MatchBook" is probably the best ever name they could have come up with. The double entendre is sheer brilliance. That marketing genius needs a raise.

I've signed up all my books for the bundling program, with all of the ebooks set to free - which is, incidentally, what I think they all should be. I get the "additional revenue streams" idea, but honestly, since the print edition is (almost) always more expensive then the ebook, then I feel the customer should be rewarded for paying a higher price in the first place. I mean, half the reason I read ebooks is because they're cheaper (and much lighter). At any rate, that's what I'll be doing with my books that are listed on Amazon. Back when I used to sell the print editions direct on my own website I always included the ebook free. I no longer sell print editions myself since it's just not cost effective to do so. But I do bundle the Kindle, ePub and PDF editions together when you buy direct from me.

So if you've purchased the print edition of The Saga of Beowulf or How To Make Kindle Comics from Amazon, go download the ebook free! Or at least, go do it in a few weeks when the program officially launches. The promo materials all say "Launching in October," while my KDP email notice gives it as "in the coming weeks." I'll let you know when it goes live. Also, I should mention that this applies even to my physical editions that are out of print - I took the individual two volume editions of The Saga of Beowulf out of print last year, since most readers tend to buy the single volume edition - but since the two volume ebooks are still available you can download them for free if you purchased either or both of them in print.

I'm hoping more publishers (read: all publishers) see the value of this and take advantage of it. It's a great way to stimulate the flagging sales of the print editions and add a little extra revenue to ebook sales. I'm still not sure I'll ever splurge on a hardback again, but it would be nice to buy one as a gift for a friend or relative and get the ebook for myself! But then, maybe that's why they've been dragging their feet on this idea for so long.

My only question now is, if we purchased the ebook in the past, can we get a discount on the print edition too? But I suppose that's asking for too much.