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Kindle MatchBook (amazon.com)
422 points by _pius on Sept 3, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 181 comments

This is awesome for the consumer, absolutely. And it's only made possible by the recent DOJ trial that effectively allowed Amazon to set prices of ebooks (wholesale vs agency model). Recall that agency model, the publisher sets the price (the same as apps on the app store). But now that Amazon can set any price they want for ebooks (and take a loss on them if they want to, which they have done before), Amazon can do cool stuff like this.

Amazon has already started discounting ebooks - some of the bestsellers are now cheaper on amazon in ebook form than on iBooks. That never happened before in Agency model, where price parity was a rule.

There is nothing inherently wrong with Agency model pricing; indeed it has been the norm since mp3s on iTunes 10 years ago. But Amazon competes on price, and Agency was a big wrench in those plans. Now that they can do anything they want with digital pricing, they're applying the stake in all other ebook retailers hearts. Will be fun to watch.

I speculate publishers will hate this. eBooks were one of the last digital media where value hasn't become completely pulvarized (see: Apps, MP3s). Though, its certainly possible physical book sales could be bolstered by this.

I think Charles Stross writings on ebooks is interesting and insightful. He should know: he's a tech-savvy best-selling author. (He hangs around here too: [1])

He wrote a couple of posts a year and a half ago, they still apply. In them, he explains how Amazon is making itself a monopoly, and that isn't good for anyone but them.

What's been most informative to me is how tiny publishers actually are, and how little money the author actually gets. It doesn't paint Amazon as the good guy. It's also why I buy my books hardcover now: more cash for the author.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=cstross

[2] http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/04/understa...

[3] http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2012/04/more-on-...

> It's also why I buy my books hardcover now: more cash for the author.

Isn't this true, Amazon or not? Hardcovers cost the customer more than paperbacks or ebooks, so the author should be getting hopefully a larger cut of the sale.

I think this program (if it has enough titles that I've bought in the past) is going to be awesome. I've never bought a Kindle because paying almost the same price for the Kindle version of a book vs. the paperback cost is ridiculous. Now with this program I will buy a Kindle so I can read my past purchases via that when I'm traveling, and my paperback versions when I'm sitting around at home.

Does anyone know if you can actually use this program with used book purchases? I've bought many books used (many times for only a few bucks including shipping), so I don't know if they would be eligible for this program or not.

Not really. Print books don't get the author hardly anything at all. My wife is an author, exclusive on Amazon so she makes ~70% on ebook sales. The profit from a print book is next to nothing. Of course, this can vary a lot on the type and price of the book.

Hmm, I always bought the Kindle editions because physical books are a pain in the ass to read. Before the Kindle, I even resorted to a WinCE device (built-in backlight, easy rotation for any position). Kindle Paperwhite is simply the best reading experience I've ever had in my life.

The fact I could get a paper version doesn't even factor into my decision. Actually, the price rarely factors into the decision, as the difference is usually only a few bucks anyways.

One of the things I hate the most about reading books is holding them up while reading. eReaders have solved this problem for me, and now I am a happy camper!

You... don't have to hold an eReader up? One of the worst things about reading ebooks on my iPad 2 is the weight.

War and Peace, Anna Karenina, any recent book by Neal Stephenson - those are all much more pleasant on a kindle than in paper form.

Well the iPad weighs 1.3 lbs, and the Kindle weighs less than half a pound. Only the smallest paperback books are lighter than a small ereader.

Like those old serials, The Executioner and The Destroyer. Gotta love those old, < 100 page bubble gum books.

My biggest problem was always trying to hold a book open with one hand. This was a problem because my hands are large and trying to read a paperback with both hands was sub-optimal, not to mention reading in the bath or whilst lounging.

Which is why I have a Kindle eReader and an iPad.

I agree that the eInk Kindles are one of the best bits of tech I've ever owned and the best reading experience I've had.

I can lean a Kindle against the pillow, which is much harder to do with a book.

>I've never bought a Kindle because paying almost the same price for the Kindle version of a book vs. the paperback cost is ridiculous.

You don't understand the economics of publishing. The paperback, and the hardcover for that matter cost almost nothing to produce. You are paying for the information. Perhaps the ebook should be a dollar cheaper.

For anyone interested in the average profit margins of books publishers and some what the percentage of the paper, print, and binding for a book is of the total cost, the Art & Science of Book Publishing by Herbert S. Jr Bailey (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0821409700/ref=wms_ohs_prod...) is a good book. Print on Demand and ebooks have changed some aspects, but it is still largely true that, for most books, marketing, overhead, sales, etc. are a lot of the cost of producing a book. Even with ebooks, this is still the case. Illuminating stuff.

I have no idea who downvoted this comment, but it is very true. The cost of a book is the cost of making and marketing it. Paper is really cheap. Obviously it is more expensive than bits, but not significantly.

In Economics, nobody cares about facts. The ebook is "less" than a physical book, therefore it should cost less.

It's not just the direct priniting costs there is also the risk discount as publishers often destroy a significant number of unsold books.

> I will buy a Kindle so I can read my past purchases via that

It says it works with the Kindle app too, so you can use any of your existing devices for this as well.

Copied from the other topic on this:

That would be way too easy to game. I.e. set up an Amazon Marketplace account, "sell" yourself and/or accomplices lots of books for "reasonable" prices, with the money minus some vig including Amazon's charges going back to the "buyers", then they buy el-cheapo Kindle copies for real.

If you're going to do that, why not just pirate the books? For the same amount of effort, you'd probably manage it - and it'd be cheaper.

A hint as thinking doesn't appear to be your strong point. If something seems to be "way too easy", even to you, perhaps they thought of it first. That might explain why this applies to purchases from Amazon only.

From my reading of the deal, it applies to new books only.

What? It says directly that all purchases will count.

"Available for thousands of great print books purchased new from Amazon, going all the way back to 1995 when Amazon first opened its online bookstore."

WalterBright is talking about purchases of new books (vs. used/resold), not new purchases.

    I buy my books hardcover now: more cash for the author.
Or you could buy what's cheapest and send the difference directly to the author.

(This doesn't make sense to do because there's too much friction. One way to deal with that would be to pick a random number between 0 and N and if you get 0 then send them N times that much money otherwise nothing.)

Would it make sense to have the normal Amazon price for Kindles books as they are now but then have an optional button to donate more that goes directly into the author's pocket and nobody else's? Of course only a small percentage would donate anything extra, but it's better than not having the option, and this can reduce a bit of the friction because it's two extra clicks at checkout.

I know this has worked in some cases such as for self-published ebooks or indie games, so this could potentially work if the most hardcore fans want to directly support the author. I know for authors or musicians I really love I would want to pay more if the money went directly into their pockets.

Maybe, but that devalues the work of everyone else who helps on a book. The editors, illustrators, layout/book designer all are skilled professionals, and deserve to be paid for their work as well. See John Scalzi's posts on why publishers are needed: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/02/03/why-in-fact-publishing... http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/01/23/the-ebook-path-to-rich...

Yeah.. I didn't think that through. Amazon becoming more monopolistic isn't 'absolutely' awesome for the consumer. You're right. Heck, the price of physical books on amazon may start to creep up now - no one can compete with them for miles anyway.

It's not absolutely awesome, but when you compare the competition, and look at Amazon's generally fantastic customer service, it does come out pretty awesomely for the consumer. Now and then I get riled up that I can't give my finished eBook to someone else, but then I remember I have Calibre and Google so it's not a big deal. (And once, when I had a problem purchasing on Amazon, I just downloaded the book and bought it a couple days later. DRM isn't really a hassle in practise.)

Publishers did it to themselves, being idiotically worried about piracy, instead of pushing for standards and selling directly. They gave Amazon the market out of their own stupidity. So you can't blame Amazon for picking up on that.

Maybe one day Amazon will turn around and act hostile towards customers, but so far, everyone I know has had only excellent experiences (OTOH, my overall Amazon spend is sorta high, so maybe I've got a gold star on my account). Even on the earlier Kindles, they'd overnight me replacements for damage; once they even sent an extra one and were sorta confused when I tried to return it (I hadn't paid for it).

Since it's trivial for an author to sell his works on his own website (and I've bought ebooks from such author sites), it's hard to see how Amazon could make itself a monopoly.

Also, selling an ebook via Amazon does not preclude you from selling it yourself or through other venues.

Amazon has a program called KDP. If an author puts their book into the KDP program they receive 70% royalties, but they have to be exclusive on Amazon. If they don't want to be on KDP, they only receive 35% royalties, but they can sell anywhere. That's how Amazon is making itself into a monopoly.

edit: I mean KDP Select, not KDP.

That might work well if you're a known author or for buyers willing to spend time digging around but it doesn't help new authors reach a mass market.

Self publishing will have some sort of a positive impact on things but the reality is that large aggregators will still have a very significant role for discovery and in the mass market.

You're right, but my point was that if Amazon became an abusive monopoly, that would spur alternatives.

BTW, I found some of those author self-sell web sites because of Reddit postings about their books. In these days of social media, I don't think the traditional gatekeeper role still applies.

I try not to purchase anything from Amazon if I can find an equivalent elsewhere. In the long term, a monopoly on retail is a bad thing for us, and I'm taking the long view.

EDIT: Though I must say, I've always wanted a print+digital feature, and if the paperwhite is as cool as they make it look...

I appreciate the principled stance, but Amazon won't ever have a monopoly on retail.

The internet is too big, and retail is too big, for that.

Walmart, etc. would never let that happen.

Besides....as much as people like online, I don't think Brick & Mortar stores will all go away. Some may, but everything won't.

You clearly don't live in the UK. The High Street is dying, and it's online shopping that's playing headman.

You're right....I don't live in the UK. Either way....the OP didn't say "Amazon will be a monopoly in the UK"...he implicitly said it would have a 'monopoly on retail'.

For all intents and purposes, I assumed he was talking about in Amazon's home country (or even globally given Amazon's distributed nature).

I'm a hardcore "real book" lover, but the Paperwhite is definitely as good as they make it look. I leave it on the lowest backlight setting available and it works fantastic in all lighting situations.

Everything about this is retarded. The work the author did is the same regardless of where it's printed.

Yet hisincome depends on deadtrees and gasp... Hardcovers. This is exactly which should be used to generate more profit for the publisher alone... Adding value to what the author already provided.

Everything in all media business is idiotic to say the least.

In Australia they don't have Amazon. I guess there are other places like this too. So its not a world monopoly. I miss Amazon :)

we have amazon but its shipped from america which adds a lot to the price.

Book Depository is good, but i believe that Amazon bought them out?

Actually, it doesn't look like anything to do with DOJ settlement.

This program is completely voluntary for publisher - they have to sign up for it explicitly, Amazon can't just force their hand.

Also, it's the publisher who sets the price (from the limited set of 2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free).

Source: http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-ne...

Notice that the big US publishers are not yet mentioned as participating.

You're right. I jumped the gun on that. But Amazon knows that consumer pressure will cajole publishers to fall in line. Also, Wholesale is a club they can wield when they negotiate with publishers to join in on matchbook.

I don't think the agency model was bad per se, it's just that all of the publishers decided to have the same prices with the agency model, which made it very unlikely that there wasn't price fixing, since with an agency model you're supposed to compete like in the free market, and vary prices.

I don't think they would've had any problems if they priced them at $10, $8, $3 and so on. But of course the greedy publishers would never do something like that. They wanted to use the agency model so they can move the prices upwards, instead of downwards.

Whilst the way Amazon has been doing business is very distasteful (and I was on Apple's side in the recent DOJ trial), I can't see a problem with this offer and in fact am very pleased that a company has finally offered it. The majority of consumers are unlikely to purchase both an ebook and physical copy of the same material, so offering a slight increase in price for both seems like a win for everyone.

It's a good start, but something is bothering me about having to pay on top of a physical book to get the ebook. While making the ebook is not free, I'd argue it's pretty cheap to make since you need a digital version of your book anyway before making a physical product out of it, and technically speaking buying a book means buying a license to read it - so why would you have to pay twice to access the very same content ? From a license viewpoint this should be free or close to free.

Or am I missing something?

> I speculate publishers will hate this.

It seems publishers have to opt in (e.g., see comment by keltex below). (I suppose they could still hate the pressure to allow it?) Also, it seems they could make additional money with zero marginal costs.

There are probably a number of complicated contractual issues to work out with authors even if a publisher is inclined to participate. It's no one's position here that publishers should just choose without consulting the authors, right?

It seems authors too need to opt in (again from keltex's comment).

When an Author opts-out of an Amazon program, Amazon sometimes opts-out of selling the Author's books.

Ref: http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2011-12-15.sht... search for "ebook pricing policy"

It would be awesome, if they weren't charging you for something you already purchased.

The convenience of having an ebook version of a $100 textbook would be worth a few bucks. Especially if I was still at Uni, lugging around 3-4 such books.

I frequently buy technical books for my business now, which requires that they be hardcopy (since I haven't found any way to share ebooks legally). Having the option to also get a softcopy licence would be incredibly useful.

It's not the money, it's the principle. Including a free ebook with physical book purchases should have been established as a standard practice a long time ago.

I came away from this confused thinking some Kindle versions of books were now cheaper.

Amazon is horrible at explaining what things are supposed to do. Every product landing page I've seen from them is confusing, especially all of their cloud services.

Really? You must have missed the explanation right there in the middle of the page, underneath the title and picture:

Introducing Kindle MatchBook

For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases will soon allow you to buy the Kindle edition for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free.

I'm not sure how they could have stated that any more clearly.

"For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases" is difficult to parse. It reads like list(4) instead of statement, list(3). It sounds as if you don't need to purchase print editions to get certain qualifying books cheaply on kindle.

I'm glad you found it clear and straightforward but a glance through the comments here shows that several other people were also confused.

When you buy a qualifying print-edition book from Amazon you can get the Kindle edition on Matchbook for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free.*

* Applies to past, present, and future purchases.

Well, how do I find out which books are eligible, and at what price? Is it available now or coming soon? How do I sign up? Do the books have to be ones I bought through Amazon, or can I like take a picture or something of a book I got at a garage sale?

With Kindle MatchBook, you'll be offered discounted or free e-books to go along with books you already own through Amazon. Check out AutoRip, our similar service for Music!

"Get the e-book along with the physical book for a small fee"

Its OK I suppose. The "future print edition" part was vaguely confusing to me given that I'm bombarded with offers for pre-orders regularly. Depending on your initial interpretation it can be either clear or somewhat confusing.

I get it - but it could be clearer.

Essentially, if you've ever bought print editions of books from Amazon, many of the Kindle versions of those books you previously purchased will be offered specifically to you for free or a small charge below $3 if you're interested in adding the digital version to your collection.

What is it? I can't find an explanation.

It appears like for physical books you buy - you will be able to get the digital version cheap or free.

It is an extremely unclear landing page.


>>> For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases will soon allow you to buy the Kindle edition for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free.

That seems pretty clear to me.

The design makes that sentence non-obvious to be the primary description. Additionally the sentence is difficult to scan.

The explanation that matters is the one offered to people when they're considering the ebook purchase. I bet Amazon will get that one right.

yeah, I had a hard time figuring out what it was until I read the comments here.

I thought it was going to be a really tiny e-reader.

That might have a market.


(http://www.quora.com/eBook-Readers/Why-did-the-first-rollabl...) (http://www.brighthand.com/default.asp?newsID=2651) (http://www.zdnet.com/blog/mobile-gadgeteer/mwc08-hands-on-wi...)

I also remember a cylinder with a few lines of text. As you turned the cylinder the text would scroll. Not sure if that ever got beyond the CGI prototype stage.

So much for the 1" Kindle.

In one of the recent Elon Musk articles it mentioned that he reads on his iphone, so the notion isn't that far out. Not that the iphone is exactly tiny...

Elon Musk does this? THE NEW BIG THING

haha. No it just struck me as strange that someone clearly not constrained by finances would chose to read on an iphone.

What is this, an e-reader for ANTS?!

This is a phenomenally important move; now, being an "ebook reader" or a "traditional reader" doesn't have to be an either/or proposition.

I think it's an interesting move, but not a "phenomenally important move". If I like print books but not ebooks, how does this affect me? It doesn't - not in the least. If I like both, I'm sort of happy - "Uh, I guess that's cool." I'm struggling to think of the person who needs both a printed copy of a book and an ebook version. The only person I can think of is someone with a textbook/learning book - you read the print version (that's why you bought it) and you use the ebook to quickly search and have at your fingertips. But for fiction? I can't see how this helps.

The value proposition of an ebook is that (on average) it's a better reading experience. More portable, more comfortable, instantly accessible.

The value proposition of a physical book is that is a physical artifact with concrete ownership; you can sell it, lend it, put it on a shelf for guests to see, forget it and rediscover it a decade later, or have your grandchildren find it in your attic in 80 years.

These two value sets are not inherently exclusive; there's no reason why you can't have both. But until now, the business model has prevented acquiring both hard and digital copies of everything from being economical.

The value proposition of a physical book is that is a physical artifact with concrete ownership; you can sell it, lend it, put it on a shelf for guests to see, forget it and rediscover it a decade later, or have your grandchildren find it in your attic in 80 years.

This. I have a bookcase filled with "me". Those books constitute what molded me, and (if unread) what I hoped would. My longevity being in some doubt, my kids being very young, and my ability to tell them what's in my head limited, in large part I keep that bookcase filled and arranged in hopes that someday they will discover it, read the contents, and so absorb much of what their father is (or, at that future date, was).

E-books, while convenient, can be lost en masse in an instant. Heck, a bunch vanished last week from my tablet when I upgraded the operating system (most were recovered, but not all). My wife may be irritated at the space occupied by my paper books, yet therein is the point: they're not going away any time soon without real effort. Atoms persist; bits are fleeting.

My father lost a great deal of his physical books in a flood. If they were bits, he wouldn't have.

Yeah, but ask your father (or more realistically, anyone who has a book collection) if they'd trade all of their physical books for a kindle. The answer will almost alway be no, because there is a reason they've lugged those books around with them every time they've changed houses or gone on trips, because the physical artifact means something to them, and a eBook isn't going to cut it.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. My own physical book collection is a shadow of its former self, as I've scanned and tossed the rest.

I can't ask my dad anything anymore as he has Alzheimer's, but he had given me his book collection and I've been scanning them, too. (Of course I don't cut up the sentimental treasures, but there are only a handful of those.)

Also, years ago, he got low vision and couldn't read comfortably anymore. If it was today, I would set up a projector to throw the pdf pages on the wall so he could keep reading.

Unless they were DRMed and the provider had gone out of business, or cut off his access for other reasons, or...

In general, I don't buy DRMed books that I want to keep long term for just that reason.

I buy the physical book, cut the back off, scan it to a pdf and throw the book into the recycling bin.

Are you opposed to the DRM-stripping tools available? Buying a Kindle book and running it through Calibre seems like an easier route to take than scanning the physical book.

On the book scanning note though, do you have a special book scanner? I've never seen one outside of professional shops and turning the pages seems like a ginormous hassle.

You're right that using a flatbed scanner is simply unworkable for books.

I use a Fujitsu fi-5120C hopper-fed scanner (does both sides at once) and a QCM-8200M stack slicer. Those make short work of most books. The Fujitsu scanner software includes an OCR. I scan at 400dpi. If a page gets messed up, I use pdftk to merge in corrected scans.

I also use it to scan in small mountains of old tax records and documents I had stuffed everywhere.

The odd thing is I've come to prefer the pdf images, as they look like a book page (!). This works out great on ereaders with larger screens like the Kindle DX, or the Kobo Aura which has an HD eink display.

The regular Kindle is a bit squinty with a paperback sized PDF, but I bought some dimestore reading glasses which helps wit dat.

Sounds like having both is a good hedge against failures with either one.

Having said that, I can't back-up my bookshelf. Some fire or water damage, and they're gone.

I'm also tired of "I know I have that book here somewhere..." and then searching for hours for it. My back is tired of moving all those boxes of books. My nose is tired of the mildew smell from when they wicked up moisture from the basement floor. My (old) eyes are tired of squinting to read small print.

I welcome the advent of better and better ereaders.

Perhaps Amazon should offer a program where you demonstrate you have a physical copy (not purchased via Amazon) and get a digital copy for some reduced rate.

This. I would ship every bookcase in the house tomorrow if someone gave me credit toward the corresponding e-books.

The files go into my Box account, and I never lose another book.

To me, the publishers have destroyed most of that value by producing such cheaply-made physical books. If you open a hardback from several decades ago, it feels different, like a real book. Most hardbacks now look fine if you don't try to hold them open and read them. I only buy them reluctantly, and less often. If DRM weren't so common I'd hardly buy them at all.

-- From the things-were-all-right-when-I-was-a-kid file

They called pulp fiction "pulp" for a reason :-) The paper was so cheap it falls apart in your hands.

That's subjective. My (first edition) Kindle doesn't make for a good experience to me. It's hard to browse the pages, searching is a pain (no real keyboard), the screen contrast isn't so good, etc.

However, the size, portability and lower price are worth it. It's hard to read thick books on the train, space is at premium in Tokyo, and foreign paper books are significantly more expensive here.

I prefer printed books, but I frequently am reading on the subway, the train, the airport, etc, and so the portability of ebooks is a huge advantage. I'm definitely excited about being able to both pick up a printed copy of a book for leisurely reading at home and have my entire library in my pocket when I have to go fly somewhere.

I infinitely prefer reading a physical book at home, but I love being able to access my Kindle library when I'm out and about.

I want to be able to read every book on my shelf at home while I'm not there, and I'm loving this move on Amazon's part. I just hope it doesn't spell trouble in the long run.

This is a major pain point for me, and this solves half of it.

Every time I buy a book, I have to do a lot of thinking: Is is good enough I'll want to lend it? Will I need to travel with it? Is it worth getting rid of some other book on my bookshelf to make room for it? Am I going to refer to it? If so, will it be just the occasional text search, or do I need the random access of a physical book? There is often no good answer.

This actually results in me buying fewer books. A number of times I have waffled on this and then just never bought the book. It also increases resentment toward Amazon: when I buy a book and then have to re-buy it in the other format, it's really annoying.

In addition to this, I want them to add the other direction: if I buy the Kindle book, can I upgrade to a physical edition for the price difference (plus, optionally, a modest fee)?

I go through this a lot too. I've bought books in ebook format that I've regretted, because I can't lend them easily. Conversely I've bought physical books which I wish were ebooks, because I don't reference them that often, and they're really wasting space. Not being limited to one or the other format would be great!

Although what happens when you buy the physical book, get the ebook for cheap, then on-sell the physical book? Seems like an open loop.

Yeah. Although that's an open loop with CDs that has existed for years, so I imagine Amazon has some reasonable notions on the magnitude of the problem. I'd guess it's much less of an issue with books; CDs have a much higher repeat use value than most books do.

My guess is that some people will do it accidentally, but that the number of people doing it as a book cost-reduction strategy will be pretty low. The net yield on selling used books is not good. And I'd guess further that for 98% of on-sold physical books, people will never go back and look at the ebook again.

It depends on the type of book. For fiction this is definitely true. For textbooks and technical books, there is a massive used market with high resale prices, which is more what I was thinking of. I suspect a lot of these vendors simply won't jump on the bandwagon without some kind of reassurance.

> I'm struggling to think of the person who needs both a printed copy of a book and an ebook version.

Think no further. Because it's me. I've explicitly held off from buying a Kindle because it meant having to always choose between print and ebook.

Sometimes I want to curl up with a book. Sometimes I want the convenience of an ebook. And I never want to have to make the choice about what kind of material gets relegated to one or the other experience.

I like the way books look, feel, smell and sound. I also like the option of always having accessible my entire collection digitally.

Now it looks like my problem is (partially) solved - at least sufficiently enough that I'm now going to buy a Kindle.

> I'm struggling to think of the person who needs both a printed copy of a book and an ebook version.

Technically, nobody NEEDS a printed or digital book to begin with. Maybe you're just over-thinking this? I like print books but also have an iPad. For many obvious reasons it would be nice to have all of my books on my iPad (which is almost always with me).

I've started buying movies on discs again. This is because even though they are sometimes available via streaming, it isn't a "now its available via streaming and will be forever" model that I was originally sold. Books have been "pulled back" on the Kindle, but I have never had a publisher send me a letter demanding I mail them back the book I bought.

I also started playing around with XBMC which is a lot of fun, and streaming from my local copy is a whole lot nice than streaming over the 'net.

You can't grep dead trees.

Unless you break the DRM you can't grep Kindle books either (and Amazon's search is a poor substitute).

If offered at the time of purchase I'm inclined to use this for gifts. I personally want the ebook version, but if this enables me to get a print copy for only slightly more I'll pick it up and worry about who to gift it to later.

I would use this with cookbooks. I like to refer to the printed copy in the kitchen but while shopping I could check ingredient lists from a reader.

There are fundamental differences between a paper book and an ebook. I far prefer paper books when I'm using it as a reference, but love the convenience of ebooks when for when I'm reading through something. With technical books it is very common to read initially and reference later, or to read some sections, use others for reference etc.

With that in mind it has often been a tough choice as to whether to buy a paper copy of an electronic copy of a book. This is a very welcome change, and I'd gladly pay a few bucks for the convenience of being able to switch medias.

I'm the exact opposite: I prefer paper books for 'binge reading', but eBooks for documentation or sifting through, since I'd take Ctrl+F over leafing through an index/glossary any day.

Which is why I think this (and similar offerings: I know O'Reilly and leanpub do similar things) is such an exciting offer: I don't have to sit back and decide which use case I'd rather prioritize.

I'm a little surprised anybody could prefer paper books for reference...

For me, full-text search, bookmarks, and copy/paste make ebooks far superior for referencing. Not to mention I don't have a bunch of books cluttering my desk.

In any case, I completely agree this is awesome. I've been considering selling most of my old physical books and buying the ebook versions, and this will save me a bunch of money.

Sometimes, being able to flip between two sections (comparing examples) or things a couple pages apart can be useful.

I remember having both PDF and hard copies of some RPG rulebooks, and it was almost always easier to find That Specific Thing in the paper book, once I was familiar enough with everything to use the contextual clues and page differences to find my way easily. Flipping between rules for {verb} and the list of valid {option} permutations is a similar case with tech books. Control-F helps, and so do bookmarks, but some things are easier with paper.

The almost stereotypical star trek DS9 scene where (anyone) is working on something complicated and has five PADDS on the desk all shuffling around.

Relatively few people own and simultaneously use multiple ereaders. Probably much more common in the future.

Considering that the cheapeast tabletts did go from a $500 iPad 1 in 2010 to less than $50 [1] now, this seems probable. ( Extrapolating, we end up with roughly $1 in 2020 and tablets become essentially consumables one can throw away when the battery dies.)

[1] $35, http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/694599061/Cheapest_Dual_co...

Ah, that makes sense. Referencing multiple ebooks away from a computer would be hugely inconvenient.

For me, using a book for reference almost always means I'm writing code and have the online Kindle app open in one or more browser tabs. I didn't even consider the use case where somebody would be referencing books away from the computer.

Even while on the computer its a surface area thing, which can be partially fixed by multiple monitors, but only partially.

So, I'd like to simultaneously see a PDF of the circuit board layout, the schematic diagram, the bill of materials, maybe some text commentary (best install C21 first, as U14 and R75 will be in the way later...) and maybe a datasheet of some critical ckt component. And if I'm doing something vaguely computer or microcontroller related I'm going to want another machine just for that. So 4 to 6 screens is reasonable. There are quad output video cards, another solution is I have three monitors on my desk both at work and at home with multiple computers connected to them.

That's one of the best product names I've come across in a long while.

I was thinking the opposite. They've taken the analogy too far (Kindle, Kindle Fire, Matchbook).

With the historical associations that come with "burning" and "books", I've always found the analogy awkward.

I'm pretty sure that the name "Kindle" and all of the following fire-related names are intentionally referencing book-burning.

Optimistically, the name connotes that Amazon will match, for a de minimis fee, a digital book with your physical purchase.

We should call Kindle fanboys Fire-starters.

Aside from the probably-subconsciously-desired association with Fahrenheit 451, Amazon did well with "Kindle" and "Fire" as well.

Of course, who the hell ever read any of Bradbury's books anyway?

Clever, but the fact that "Kindle X" can now mean either a hardware product (Paperwhite) or a service feature (MatchBook) is confusing.

"Kindle X" has meant both hardware and service for quite a while now. I own a few Kindle books, and have rented dozens from my library, but do not yet own a Kindle device.

I should dislike Amazon for closed-source software on Kindle and for its DRM, but... well, they have really nice offers.

Kindles are very hackable in comparison to most devices.


Amazon also didn't void my warranty when I installed a few hacks on my e-ink Kindle.

Unfortunately they are very lenient with their devices because they know that the content is locked down completely. Once you buy Kindle books, you're unfortunately only renting them.

> Once you buy Kindle books, you're unfortunately only renting them.

Luckily, it is VERY easy to crack Amazon's DRM in Calibre.

Not excusing the DRM - I'm just thankful it's easy to get around (all you need is the Kindle serial number, which is easy to find in the settings on your Kindle).

Removing DRM from azw files is trivial if you are using calibre and have the right plugin. I do it as a matter of course whenever I buy any books from Amazon.

Last I heard Kindle isn't closed-source, they just don't make it particularly easy to build- which was never a requirement for GPL.

Read: http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/kindle-swindle-source-cod...

They publish the very minimum the need to publish according to GPL.

The main issue is that the bootloader of the Kindle devices isn't particularly easy to unlock (at least, I couldn't figure it out), so even if you do get the kernel built, it would be hard to actually install it on the device itself.

> which was never a requirement for GPL.

Depending on your definition of "easy-to-build", the GPLv3 addresses that (partially).


Sorry for deleting my parent comment.

See this though, it's only the very minumum they have to publish due to GPL (sort of like Apple and Darwin)


Whether to DRM a particular book is a decision of the publisher; some publishers allow Amazon to sell DRM-free ebooks.

Nice! It always seemed odd that buying the paper version shouldn't also entitle me to the electronic version, or at least a significant discount.

Buy directly from oreilly or pragmatic (or probably others)

There's a different "deal" for every book, or so it seems, so I can't provide anything other than anecdotes WRT price. However both do the "radio button thing" on the main ordering page and you never pay full price for paper and ebook (at least never that I've seen)

I like how Pragmatic uploads the newest edition to my Dropbox if a newer edition is printed in the future. I don't believe they promise to do it in all cases, but it does at least occasionally happen. Always makes me smile, wanna buy some more from them... Cheap and effective marketing indeed.

This was always my biggest hold up in fully adopting a kindle. I really enjoy having books to lend out or flip through - not a very strong suit for an ebook reader. Even with all the e-reader benefits I could never really make the switch because of this.

I wonder how many people felt the same way?

I am turning on Amazon, it just feels fundamentally unfair that they destroyed the brick and mortar book industry precisely because they operate on the principal of never having to turn a profit. Its almost a monopolist abuse of the market...

Funny, Amazon is becoming quite like Wal-Mart, but we don't complain. When Wal-Mart comes to a town, the stampede away from the old shopping areas to the new Wal-Mart is alarmingly clear. However, with Amazon, their brick and mortar competitors are slowing fading away like apparitions as they are outmoded by new technology and trends.

Further, with Amazon we don't have to notice the low paid hordes that run the machination as these Morlocks are now in some unknown warehouse out of view toiling away to mail me my case of toilet paper so that I don't have to leave work early to purchase it through direct human contact.

What's the added value of a human giving you toilet paper? Now both you and the hypothetical toilet paper merchant can go and do more interesting things, maybe you'll meet at a gym, bar or social event instead of the random and sometimes awkward social experience of a commercial transaction.

The human gets replaced by a robot doing the menial task, win for everyone (as long as the pie expands and he gets another more meaningful job).

Most new jobs are basically service jobs, so maybe now instead of handling toilet paper he'll give you a Starbucks coffee..

> The human gets replaced by a robot doing the menial task, win for everyone (as long as the pie expands and he gets another more meaningful job).

Your parenthetical aside is not a minor point.

This is a really really good point. What can be done, though?

> the principal of never having to turn a profit.

There should be no barrier between a writer, and a consumer. The margin, everywhere in between, should be effectively zero.

The only value adds, any more, are Discovery, and sharing Reviews. Oh, and having a decent printing process, for people who like physical books.

Ehhhhh, honestly I am not fundamentally opposed to the concept but realistically our whole economic model that the US has run off of the last 100 years. If every job that is not directly producing a tangible good is eliminated frankly their wont be enough consumers to make producing economically viable.

Beyond that, one could argue a brick and mortar provides ample oppurtunity for discovery, previewing, and discussion that amazon doesnt support as directly... and these brick and mortars are dying in part not because of true competition, but because of competition against someone who hasn't had to turn a profit for the last 15 years.

You mean, it's almost as though a few humans working with machines and genetically modified crops are able to provide for most of Maslow's hierarchy of needs for all of human kind, thus making labor completely irrelevant, while the people who own the machines and the corporations that run them are profiting?

And almost like the people who want to operate and maintain those machines have to take out huge student loans and gamble on being employable?

Amazon is a wasting disease. It is shuttering small businesses, putting thousands out of work, and filling a fraction of those jobs it destroys with sweatshop warehouse jobs. And in return, the president of the United States praises them for creating those jobs.

To say nothing of the negative impact they are having on authors. As with the music industry, it is becoming a superstar machine: either you quickly become a superstar, or you find yourself without a publisher.

What is the negative affect they are having on authors? Isn't Amazon the reason we have access to such amazing new talents as Hugh Howey (Wool series)?

The ability to independently publish into an established marketplace is a pretty great boon for aspiring authors.

That's like saying that the iOS App Store provides us with amazing games at a cheap price, so it hasn't been a net negative to the games industry on the whole.

It has. A handful of creators can make a living from that model, but most can't, because the glut of games drives down the prices substantially. It's a race to the bottom. And the App Store pays out 70% of the proceeds to creators. Amazon's Kindle publishing pays just 35% unless you agree to various conditions.

Aspiring authors aren't really the ones who are experiencing problems. If success is a bell curve, either end of the curve is fine, but the middle of the curve--those authors who are published but who have seen only moderate success--are getting cut by publishers in favor of a kind of VC model. Publishers bet on new talent, but only continue to invest in authors that achieve wide appeal.

This may seem fine, even optimal, to you, but there are lots of authors historically who did not achieve popularity until several books in, and many authors who were not successes in their own time but became successful after their deaths.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, for example, would not have made it today. He was an author whose first novel sold well but every novel thereafter sold poorly (including The Great Gatsby). Today, he would have been dropped long before he wrote Gatsby.

The publishing industry now is experiencing the same transformation that movies and games have already gone through. Sequels, for example, are favored over original stories. Heck, look at the author you cited. Sequel after sequel.

Then again, the iOS App Store has also allowed a huge number of amateur developers to produce apps, and has basically instantiated an entire industry around App development. Sure, it sucks for the incumbents like Nintendo, whose Gameboy devices are now a tough sell. But essentially this democratisation of the publishing chain has led to a widespread increase in publishing of creative works(apps, books, art & craft via etsy), and a better cut for the creators, whilst also increasing the size of the markets they sell to.

Creators who are dropped by publishers have the ability to then self-publish. Hugh Howey is not publishing sequels, just completing (IMO) a series which is now done. His other works are receiving a lot of interest on Amazon as well. Not seeing a lot of downsides here, except to traditional publishing models, and frankly good riddance to them.

Yes, more people are publishing, but the glut means nobody can make any money. Prices have crashed; apps hover around $0.99, and $2.99 is now considered a tough sell. It's had a negative overall impact to the industry, both creators and publishers.

Anyway, I've said my piece. Long threads tend not to be terribly interesting to anyone except the participants. ;-)

Borders and Barnes & Noble killed the independent bookstore long before Amazon became a force in the publishing industry. I shed no tears for their defeat of the big box 'book stores.'

That's nice, but I really want this at brick and mortar stores. I want the great, curated experience of shopping at my local independent stores, but I also want the convenience of having an ebook version. Record companies already give away MP3 download codes along with records and I find it bizarre that publishers haven't followed along with a similar idea.

It is important to note that this appears to apply to a limited selection of books.

FYI. I work with an Amazon author and he received an email asking if he wanted to "opt-in" to the program (which he did). So it's completely at the publisher's or author's discretion which I think is the right way of doing it.

Also the author has the ability to set the price for the Kindle version. It's dependent on the retail price but from what I've seen if the Kindle book is >$6 the author can do $2.99, $1.99, $0.99 or free. Then as the price gets lower (>$4) the options narrow to $1.99, $0.99 or free and so on.

It's open to self-published authors. I just opted-in to make by eBook 99 cents for anyone who buys the paperback.

Free or discounted ebooks to replace past paper purchases -- with the name Matchbook it rings a bit too Fahrenheit 451.

Was there not a less creepy name available?

Matchbook = matching your physical book purchases with e-books.

The Kindle and Kindle Fire didn't ring that bell already?

how about "I sing the Novel Electric"?

So basically if you bought a book in the past from Amazon, you may be able to get a kindle version for up to $3. Its not a bad deal for customers and additional revenue in Amazon's coffers for a minor service. I think they should make it a flat rate at $0.50 and drop the variable pricing.

Well it sounds like they are (maybe) already making a loss on it so I'm not sure dropping the price by a further 80% is feasible.

You can't due to publisher relationships.

Does anybody know if this will allow people outside the US to participate? By now I have bought books from Amazon US, UK, France and Spain. Also, will Amazon make available all the (eligible) titles I have purchased, in all the various international branches?

Most of my Amazon print book purchases are from used book resellers like BetterWorldBooks. I wonder if this offer is available for all book purchases through their marketplace? If so, bravo! Finally, we're starting to get services that begin to match what our technology offers.

I'm a firm believer that people pirate not because "digital=free" in their minds, but because they know that getting sold hobbled products for the same price (even though they cost far less to distribute digitally) is a bum deal. It seems like the media industries are finally starting to recalibrate themselves.

As an affiliate marketer, am I the only one that thought OP should of posted a amazon affiliate link and then did a case study on conversions/efficiency of having a link on the front page of HN? lol

Oh hey, that was my intern project this summer! Well, not all of it of course, but I worked on the accounting system that will handle the MatchBook transactions.

Can't wait for this feature. I am wondering if they would do the opposite: Offer paper books for a lower price to customers who own the kindle?

It will be interesting to see if they also offer bundles at purchase time. "Buy the book for $12, or the book + ebook for $14."

This is how AutoRip works for mp3s. One album I purchased was actually _cheaper_ to get the CD + mp3 album vs just the mp3 album.

Wow, I can buy the book I own a second time, but at a low price and in the known low-quality, no-human-ever-even-looked-at-it OCRed version. Great.

I'm buying a lot of Kindle books, but I feel that I shouldn't because peddling such low quality shovelware is not something I feel I should encourage in any way.

I had always wondered when a program similar to DVD tiles would arise, where the product came with a coupon to get the electronic version free. I'll take it either way, I love hard bounds but there are many times where they are not best suited for environments the Kindle thrives in.

Barnes and Noble should have gotten here first. Think of the difference "Would you like the ebook with that?" at checkout could have made (in terms of building Nook, incremental store memberships and so on). Instead, they bet on the agency model and focused on the wrong things.

I wonder if there will be any special treatment for gifts (I'm guessing there won't be). My mom has bought me many books. She probably has no interest in having the Kindle versions of them, but I definitely do.

They have been doing that with music for a while. I bought a cd from Amazon long time ago and last year got an email from them telling me it was available to download for free.

I really hope we see something like this for apps and not having to re-purchase stuff just because your new phone or tablet isn't the same as your old one.

This is similar to what Oreilly is doing. They offer ebook upgrades for any paperback book you (claim to) own for USD 4.99.

At first I was excited, then I remembered that these kind of deals are not for non-US citizens :(

Disappointed after reading the thread here.

At first look, I thought it would be more along the lines of, "snapshot a few randomly chosen pages from the book with your mobile camera, to prove that you've bought the book in the past and still own/have it now, and then you automaticaly get the ebook version really cheap as a result."

How will that prove that they bought it from Amazon? This promo will be probably tied with Amazon account and purchase history.

Took long enough.

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