Amazon's Kindle MatchBook turns past print purchases into low-cost ebooks

Amazon has a new plan to introduce tech-wary readers to the world of ebooks without breaking the bank. Starting in October, Amazon book buyers will be able to buy Kindle versions of their past, present, and future print purchases for $3 or less.

When it rolls out next month, Kindle MatchBook will offer an ebook purchase add-on for more than 10,000 book titles. MatchBook pricing has four different levels: free, $1, $2, and $3. It’s not clear how the pricing structure works or how many of the MatchBook add-ons will be free compared to the $3 level.

That’s a good number of titles at a competitive price, but so far, Amazon’s MatchBook-compatible books appear to be only from publisher HarperCollins and its various imprints.

Some of the MatchBook eligible titles include works from authors such as Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Blake Crouch, James Rollins, Jodi Picoult, Neil Gaiman, Marcus Sakey, Wally Lamb, Jo Nesbo, Neal Stephenson, and J.A. Jance.

Digital bundles

Amazon’s AutoRip service (pictured above) is like Kindle MatchBook for CDs.

MatchBook is very similar to AutoRip, a service introduced in January that gives you free digital versions of physical CDs purchased from Amazon. Like AutoRip, MatchBook lets you go way back in your Amazon purchase history to find qualifying books; any Amazon-purchased book from 1995 onwards could be eligible for a MatchBook “upgrade.”

As part of the new program, Amazon plans on making it easy to find your order history to see which of your past purchases are eligible for MatchBook.

The new service is also ongoing, so just because a book that you bought back in the days of dial-up isn’t eligible for MatchBook right now doesn’t mean it won’t be available in the future. That’s good news for anyone who purchased a non-HarperCollins book from Amazon over the past 28 years.

MatchBook sounds like a great deal to fill up a Kindle with past purchases and to encourage non-Kindle users to give ebooks a try. It also gives Amazon yet another method to lock more customers into its DRM-laden Kindle platform with a full library of their (presumably) favorite titles.

Amazon is getting very interested in services that bundle digital and physical goods. In addition to introducing AutoRip in January, Amazon announced its Mobile Associates API in August. Mobile Associates lets third-party Android developers sell physical goods from Amazon inside their apps.

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