Big News from Amazon

Amazon has just released some big news: through it’s MatchBook* program, Amazon will provide customers with the opportunity to get an e-book version of print books they have bought (going back as far as Amazon’s Day 1). These e-book copies will cost nothing, $1.99, or $2.99. Although small now, the program is expected to grow over time.

Amazon had already been doing something similar, offering a discount on the audiobook when a customer had already purchased the print version. And now Amazon is doing the same “echo-service” with their e-book catalog. I think this is a great service. For a few bucks more, customers will have a copy of their books that can be accessed from the cloud. Spill a drink on your book? House burn down? Books are safe. MatchBook is basically cheap book insurance.

Ironically, some musicians and comedians have been doing something similar for years. If you bought a CD or an album, you’d also receive a free download code to get a free mp3 version. Yes, that’s right. I just said Amazon is copying the music industry, and that’s a good thing.

Of course, if you’re an independent bookseller, you will probably disagree. MatchBook is another rope that will be used to tie people into the Amazon ecosystem. Unless publishers can give customers download codes directly (maybe print a code under scratch-off foil on the inside-back-cover?), Amazon will get another leg up on indy booksellers.

Time will tell of course. Maybe people won’t take advantage, or at least not enough people to make the service worth while. And maybe they will. I’m very curious to see where this leads.

Any other consequences I may have overlooked? Please leave a comment below, and let me know.

*Interestingly named, given the title of their e-reader, the Kindle.

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