October 30, 2013, 6:00 AM —
Amazon's Kindle MatchBook service has finally launched! This is great news for people who've followed a certain reading trajectory. If you used to rely heavily on Amazon for book purchases but then transitioned to reading Kindle ebooks, then MatchBook is for you.
Basically MatchBook lets you upgrade (side-grade?) from a print edition to a Kindle edition of a book. You just log into the MatchBook home page and wait while Amazon's servers dig up a listing of all the books you've purchased from them and then cross-references that list with the titles covered by the MatchBook program. Once that's done you'll be offered a list of Kindle versions of books at discounted prices.
Based on my own selection, Kindle MatchBook prices vary from $0.99 to $2.99. (Amazon says in some cases the MatchBook edition is free but I wasn't so lucky with my selection) Sometimes your savings are substantial and other times, not so much, but still you're always going to save something. For example (again from my own account's offerings) books with a regular Kindle price of $9.78 are offered for $2.99 via MatchBook. But I also had some titles that were regularly just $1.99 in Kindle format and those were reduced to $0.99 in MatchBook. But hey, a buck is a buck.
Now the bad news. The program is rolling out with 74,000 or so titles from a mix of major publishers and self-published authors. Personally, I've been buying books from Amazon since 1998, and I had only 13 titles in my MatchBook list so I'm thinking that number is heavily slanted towards self-published authors.
Amazon says it'll continue adding new titles to the service, of course. Let's hope more big publishers embrace this kind of program. Laura Hazard Owen at GigaOm did some digging and found that, for instance, Macmillan only had 50 titles in the program and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt only 36.
Still if like me you've been eyeing that copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver that you bought back in 2005, but the idea of holding all 917 pages of it up seems tiring (yes, ebooks have made me that lazy!) you'll be happy to snag the Kindle version for $1.99 instead of $5.69.
What Amazon has now is a good start and I look forward to seeing more titles added to the program.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.