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Amazon Kindle Matchbook is live (amazon.com)
74 points by BrandonWatson 1546 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments

Can I just say how much I love the title of this service? Not only does it fit in with the theme of the idea of "Kindling", it also can be separated into Match and Book, which is what the service does. With so many absolutely awful names for services and products out there, it's nice to see one that (in my opinion) is well thought out.

As for the service, I really love the idea. This is the logical step, and pretty much exactly what I was looking for in both owning the book in a physical format and also having access to a digital version for different reasons. It is just really disappointing that a total of 0 of the books I have bought from them are available through this service, and I've used Amazon quite a bit. Hopefully, it's successful enough to take off and start to force more support from publishers, and it doesn't die out too early due to lack of publisher support.

"Can I just say how much I love the title of this service?"

The name kind of reminds me of Nazi book burning or Fahrenheit 451. In fact, anything with "Kindle" in it does. I can't shake it even though this service looks awesome. Something about ebooks implies reducing the number of print books in circulation, which just strikes me as authoritarian--so the connotations of burning don't help.

This is a complete non-sequitur. Nobody is actually burning books. Or even talking about burning books.

Also, burning books is perfectly legal and ethical — not all books are valuable or worth keeping around, and not all acts book-burning are acts of repression. That's what the Nazi book burnings and Fahrenheit 451 were: acts of repression.

It's a bit like saying iWork gives you a bad vibe because Nazis made people work in death camps.

Presumably the Kindle and Matchbook names are designed to evoke book burning, unless there is an alternative interpretation I have missed. Matchbook = taking a match to a book, i.e. burning it, just as you should use your now-obsolete paper books as kindling. To me, book burning has terrible connotations, even though no actual book burning is being done (although it does seem encouraged by the naming). Perhaps I am alone in this regard.

For what it's worth, the official explanation from its namer is this [1]:

    "Jeff [Bezos, the CEO] wanted to talk about
    the future of reading, but in a small, not
    braggadocio way. We didn't want it to be
    'techie' or trite, and we wanted it to be
    memorable, and meaningful in many ways of
    expression, from 'I love curling up with
    my Kindle to read a new book' to 'When I'm
    stuck in the airport or on line, I can 
    Kindle my newspaper, favorite blogs or 
    half a dozen books I'm reading.'" ...
    Kindle means to set alight or start to
    burn, to arouse or be aroused, to make or
    become bright. The word’s roots are from
    the Old Norse word kyndill, meaning
    Candle. “I verified that it had deep roots
    in literature,” adds Hibma. “From
    Voltaire: ‘The instruction we find in
    books is like fire. We fetch it from our
    neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate
    it to others and it becomes the property
    of all.’”
[1] http://www.printmag.com/article/who-named-the-kindle-and-why...

No, I don't really see that. When I hear Kindle, I think more of nurturing, or beginning a fire. A fire needs to begin somewhere, just as an idea must. And must also be nurtured, and built upon, something that books do. That's what I see when I see "Kindle". Matchbook just goes along with the fire theme of Kindle, as publicfig said.

I agree. Specifically, the names remind me of a quotation by Victor Hugo - "To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark".

> not all books are valuable or worth keeping around

Exhibits A & B: http://i.imgur.com/So8rgje.jpg

Obligatory xkcd: http://xkcd.com/750/

Funny, the first thing that popped into my mind was "This sounds similar to the iTunes Match program for books." Nice name analysis though :)

I have many hundreds of books purchased from amazon, going back to 1996. It took about ten seconds for the site to identify five that were eligible. Four of the five eligible books were purchased between 1997-2002 and the eligible recent book was a work of fiction that doesn't appear to have aged well. Books published in the last decade appear to be a harder sell for the program.

"We were not able to find any Kindle MatchBook eligible titles based on your past print book purchases. See more Kindle MatchBook titles here." -- I bought $4k worth of books in last 18 months.

Edit: I bought a Kindle anyway. They look awesome and there is a $60 off deal going on.

Same here, it's odd because some books (which I was expecting to find under this promotion) fall in any of these categories:

a) A digital version is already distributed for free at the author's page (not that it makes any difference).

b) A digital version is not even purchasable, but you can find it by illegal means (seriously? I can download the torrent but not purchase the ebook??? This doesn't even make sense!).

c) A digital version is only available at Amazon.

Some of those torrents are OCR scanned copies.

I was talking about PDFs that look exactly or really similar to the printed book... (which probably are a leaked prerelease).

I had 19 books matched (also out of hundreds of physical books, purchased only up until Kindle emerged), and picked up most of them. The prices were almost always $2.99.

>update: The more we support this program the more publishers will buy into it. They have just received new dollars from me that are generally 20% bonuses above the cover prices of books sold years ago. There is no cannibalisation as I'm not in the market to buy any of those books again. I really want to get to the stage where all my books are digitised and I can choose whether for not to maintain a physical library. If Amazon and publishers provide a simple and legal way to do this then sobeit.

I have no books eligible, what a disappointment. I really hope they can eventually expand the program to every book out there.

Yep zero books eligible here and I buy books obsessively from Amazon. Weird.

I doubt they will expand it to every book. It might be a while before it expands to a sizable portion of their library.

Netflix wasn't what it is on it's first day.

Even today I'm disappointed with Nexflix's selection so I never bothered getting past the free trials.

I would hope that some day Amazon would require everyone that wants to sell a physical copy join in on the program but I can see how that might damage their profits. Maybe once a majority of books are on the program they can make it a requirement and everyone selling books will have to decide to suck it up and join or not make money through Amazon.

What I really don't understand is why anyone selling books wouldn't want to join the program. Is there any scenario at all where they would lose by being a part of it?

I have a similar Amazon history as yours it seems, but both books it found eligible for me were very new (2009 and 2011 publication dates).

Same here. 202 books, going back to 1998. Only 5 are eligible. :(

My single match is from '07, Optimal Thinking.

For all of those debbie downers in the comments: this is a pilot program for many of the publishers (who are obstinate and allergic to innovation); as more people buy the kindle versions of books they've purchased the more open publishers will be to this idea and give Amazon more leeway. I'm honestly surprised Amazon was even able to pull this off.

"That's a nice distribution deal you have there. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it."

Media companies can be amazingly obstinate, but enough money will make the point.

I have a more positive data point: I've purchased about 175 paper books on Amazon, and 23 are part of the Matchbook program. That feels decent to me.

Going through my order history also made me realize how successful the Kindle is in extracting money from me. I had 175 book purchases between February 2000 and October 2010 (when I got my first Kindle), and 375 purchases between October 2010 and October 2013. I went from buying 17 books per year to buying 125 books per year.

I have 24 books eligible for the program, which seems like a high number based on the comments here.

I've probably ordered 600-700 books since 1999.

Most of the Matchbook matches are at the $2.99 price point. None are listed for free. Most are fiction. Most are from my 1999-2004 purchases.

Incidentally, four (out of six) books from my first Amazon order were eligible.

I suspect (hope) that more publishers sign up in the near future.

Easily dozens and likely hundreds of books bought over the years.

A single book came up on matchbook. A cookbook.

Things that seem too good to be true usually are.

I've purchased at least 50 books from amazon, and I had two match. The Oracle PL/SQL Language Pocket Reference and a history book I bought for college in 2007. Woooo...

Yeah, if I didn't know any better I'd say it was a brand new program for a feature Amazon likely had trouble getting publishers to participate in.


US only it seems. Unless none of my purchases through the UK site are eligible.

None of my US purchases (i.e., all of my purchases) are eligible

I hope it is US only for now, as it found no eligible books in my case.

If you've already purchased a hardcopy, why does a softcopy cost anything?

Reverse it: If you've already purchased a softcopy, why does a hardcopy cost anything?

Because the hardcopy has intrinsic value? So your position is essentially that a softcopy has no intrinsic value, which is very arguable.

The hardcopy has EXTRINSIC value. You own it, and you can resell it. The softcopy has very little extrinsic value. You neither own it nor can give it away.

There is some intrinsic value to the softcopy, but mostly convenience and being freed to sell your hardcopy.

Because a hardcopy cost $$ to print. What does a digital download cost to distribute? $.000000001 ?

You're talking about cost, not value. The two are only loosely related at best.

And marginal cost at that, ignoring fixed cost entirely.

Because a softcopy is valuable even to people who already have a hardcopy, and therefore they're willing to pay for it?

Because the publishing industry doesn't believe that we should own the things we own.

I like they are trying to shake things up here. I don't buy books anymore because it's no longer useful to have a shelf dedicated to books I will never read again but I appreciate that there a ton of people who are weary about the digital medium who may need coaxing - this is a perfect segue into the Kindle for Amazon. Huge step towards adoption once they get more publishers on board.

As a side note I love how 80% of the comments here are about the number of books available as a pissing contest versus any real discussion for the merits of the idea. For shame.

> As a side note I love how 80% of the comments here are about the number of books available as a pissing contest versus any real discussion for the merits of the idea. For shame.

I think a lot of us (at least I did) expected that a good portion of past purchases would be eligible for this service but we're finding that only about 3-5% are.

We're just sharing information.

>As a side note I love how 80% of the comments here are about the number of books available as a pissing contest versus any real discussion for the merits of the idea. For shame.

Real discussion for the merits? I think maybe all of our collective experiences so far might show that it was good in theory but bad in practice (although I really hope not).

My available books are primarily Neal Stephenson and Terry Pratchett.

Interesting that they count Amazon "Bargain Books" as purchases. These are generally remaindered hardcovers.

Looks like anyone publishing remotely technical topics didn't buy into the program. I've been a prime member since the beginning and during the first few years I was probably buying 2 or more books per week.

9 matches for me, only one that I'd want to have a digital copy of for reference and all offered at a discount as they were already very inexpensive on kindle. None free.

Disappointing. Still love that Amazon is trying to push this, but looks like adoption will be slow.

I didn't have any that came up... too bad.

To be fair, it is the first day. Looking through the selection of matched books that are available, it looks somewhat similar to the titles that were in the Kindle lending library when it first started. Admittedly, the library is still pretty sparse but they have built it up over time.

I'd expect the titles to increase more quickly than the in the library. Once they see how it starts to work, they'll probably jump on board. Afterall, this is a pretty attractive value proposition from the perspective of the publishers. Kindle Matchbook brings incremental sales that would have probably never occurred without this program and have very little marginal cost (Amazon's cut being the only thing that comes to mind).

They need to go back to publishers and rework this. Only 5 books and I've been buying from them since the beginning.

I bought one of them, if it helps give them some leverage.

That's a good idea. I only had one come up, and wasn't all that interested, but I'll go ahead and buy it to help encourage more soon.

I still don't understand how an e-book, which can infinitely be replicated at no cost to anyone, can cost $10. How on earth does this make sense? I purchased A People's History of The United States a few years ago, and now I can buy it for my Kindle for $10? Who does this?

Occasionally Amazon will offer the Kindle price higher than the used physical copy price.

Current Matchbook offer seems quite humble. Publishers will be naturally reluctant to sell their $22 books for $2 but I hope they'll understand very soon that this isn't actually a discounted sale. It's either extracting more money from past sales or making future sales more likely to happen (and also extracting more money from them).

I think Amazon Matchbook is a brillant idea. I love using my kindle when I am out and about, but prefer the paper format when home. I also enjoy the feeling of having a hard copy, that nobody can claim back, or put DRM on.

When matchbook will become a reality (ie. more editors will join the program, and more recents books will be added), I will happily use it.

I await the day when this works between the trifecta of print, ebook, and audiobooks. At least this is one step closer.

I have dozens (over a hundred?) purchased books on amazon over the last decade. 3 matching books, one of which is the Odyssey. It's an awesome idea, but it doesn't seem to include much yet.

Most of the "new and popular" books seem to be pulp romance series that are already free in the prime lending library.

I have 83 books in my order history on Amazon.com (I purchase mostly from their UK store) and none of them are available with Matchbook. Disappointing.

Got one match, and it was for $3, which as far as I'm concerned is basically full price.

Not really, full price for the Kindle version was $9, but ebook prices are pretty much a) free, b) less than $1, c) $1 < x < $10, or d) more. I don't find the difference between 3 and 9 to be significant in this case.

I'd really like to see Amazon figure out a way to handle the purchase of books as gifts with the Matchbook program. Books I bought for someone else, how can they get the Matchbook Kindle version. Also, books I've received as gifts from others, how can I get the Matchbook version?

I thought I recalled that match was going to be free?

Even so, of all the books I've purchased, they've only found matches for 2, which is very disappointing.

Would like to see more titles available so going forward, I know whether I should go back to buying paperbacks/hardcovers or keep buying for the Kindle.

Gee, I am so shocked that the publishers, who just settled an antitrust case whose goal was to raise e-book prices in opposition to Amazon, are not opting in to a program from that same Amazon which allows people to purchase books for less money.

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

There is a verb agreement error lurking in there.


I have around 40 books purchased via amazon, and they are mostly programming/woodworking. No matching results via matchbook for me.

I do have to wonder if their selection available for matching includes many non-fiction titles.

I had David Flanagan's O'Reilly Jquery Pocket Reference show up, but it was $2.99 vs $8.49.

The only other one was a Charles Williams novel which was $2.99 vs $7.99.

The deals are a little anemic. A $5 discount just seems weak. As was mentioned above, this is very nearly full price already. In fact, there are used paperback copies available for $2.09 from the Amazon Sellers.

So far, I'm pretty underwhelmed. Just a quick browse through the available books, the pickings are pretty slim. Lots of pulp novels, not a lot of newer stuff.

It's a step in the right direction, but it isn't really there yet. I'm hoping Amazon can show publishers the light.

The examples listed at [1] seem to be mass-market fiction titles only. I didn't check through 100+ pages of listing though.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/b/?node=7792718011

Falcon Guides (for hiking and outdoorsy stuff) are on there.

Also mainstream non-fiction, like Super Freakonomics and Simon Winchester books (Krakatoa, Professor and Mad Man)

What about the other way round? The argument for ebooks costing the same as a paperback is that we are paying primarily for the content not the physical form, so shouldn't this work in both directions?

I have many, many books in my purchase history, but only 8 - so far - are MatchBook-eligible. OTOH, one of them is Cryptonomicon, purchased in May 1999, so, hey.

Why not put an expiration date on the digital books while they're at it so that they can possibly charge you 3 times (or more) for the same book.

<3 Amazon and this service, but out of dozens of purchased paper books, it only shows 4 as eligible. What's up with that?

Publishers/authors have to agree to it.


please explain

It's a Neal Stephenson book. By definition, the paperback version weighs as much as 3 or 4 Kindles. The hardcover version can be used for strength training.

I clicked expecting to see a really tiny version of the Kindle :)

I would buy one.

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