Amazon Adds Digital-Print Book Combo Packs
Kindle MatchBook adds an ebook version to physical book sales for an extra $2.99 or less.
Amazon announced its new Kindle MatchBook service today, allowing purchasers of physical books to add a digital copy for no more than an extra $2.99.
The service will launch in October with about 10,000 titles, including works by Michael Crichton, Wally Lamb, Neal Stephenson and Jodi Picoult.
If Amazon can expand the library substantially beyond its relatively small initial selection, the new service will be a big win for the online superstore, both in relation to Apple's competing iBookstore and to physical bookstores.
Apple doesn't offer physical books, so it is unlikely to offer a competing service, and the ability buy a combo pack is likely to draw some physical book customers away from brick-and-mortar bookstores. Amazon already controls more than 25 percent of the consumer book market.
An alliance between Apple and brick-and-mortar stores to convince major publishers to offer download codes disconnected from a particular retailer or platform might be their best strategy to counter Amazon. A purchaser who bought a physical book anywhere could add a digital copy at purchase for an additional fee, downloadable with a unique code that could be redeemed on any service.
The new offering is also an important strategic move for Amazon to shore up the Kindle amid some evidence of a flattening of demand for standalone e-readers and e-books.
Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content, told The New York Times that multiple major publishers had joined the service. But HarperCollins is the only one that he publicly named.
Publishers will have the option of making the e-book copy available for $2.99, $1.99, 99 cents or free.
One key feature of the new service is that Amazon will retroactively apply it to eligible purchases made since 1995.
“If you logged onto your CompuServe account during the Clinton Administration and bought a book like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus from Amazon, Kindle MatchBook now makes it possible for that purchase -- 18 years later -- to be added to your Kindle library at a very low cost,” said Grandinetti in a statement announcing MatchBook.