Amazon Rolls Out Kindle MatchBook: Buy a Paper Book, Get the Kindle Version Cheap or Free

Buy a paper book from Amazon, and you can have the Kindle version for $3, $2, $1 or free, depending on the title.

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Last night, I pre-ordered a paper book from Amazon. I did not want to do this. I wanted the Kindle version.

However, the Kindle version of this particular book is slated for release on October 15, whereas the paper version comes out October 1. I need to read the book before October 15, so I find myself in enough of a rhubarb of a pickle of a jam that, for the first time in a long, long time, I bought a paper book. Again, I did not want to do this.

Relief may soon be in sight, however, as Amazon is rolling out a service called Kindle MatchBook in October. The premise is simple: Buy a paper book from Amazon, and you can have the Kindle version for $3, $2, $1 or free, depending on the title.

This includes books you’ve purchased from Amazon “all the way back to 1995—when Amazon first opened its online bookstore,” according to the company’s press release. It’s retroactive, in other words.

What’s the catch? Well, aside from having to pay upwards of $3, the current selection of MatchBook-compatible books only hovers at around 10,000 titles.

Here are some of the big-name authors, according to Amazon:

Kindle MatchBook will launch with books from Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Blake Crouch, James Rollins, Jodi Picoult, Neil Gaiman, Marcus Sakey, Wally Lamb, Jo Nesbo, Neal Stephenson, and J.A. Jance, among others. In addition, Amazon Publishing will include all its titles in Kindle MatchBook.

It’ll be interesting to see which additional publishers sign up for the program. Some may see the upside of potentially being able to squeeze another couple bucks out of a customer who bought a paper book; some may think that if a customer likes a paper book enough, they’ll pay full price for the digital version. I don’t know about you, but I like some of my paper books enough to pay $3 to have the digital versions. I can’t think of any I like enough re-purchase in digital form for $10 — a common price for a Kindle e-book — though.

This has apparently been “one of the most requested features from customers,” according to Amazon. And while some will see this as a gesture of goodwill from the gargantuan online retailer, it’ll surely benefit Amazon as well. When you’ve got the chance to get a cheap or free backup of a paper book you buy from Amazon, why not buy all your paper books from Amazon, right? Assuming you’ve got no attachment to your local bookstore or ethical issues with Amazon, of course.

Introducing “Kindle MatchBook” []