Yesterday the world of technology was buzzing. First, with the news of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia and then with Amazon's announcement about the launch of Kindle MatchBook. Many bloggers are referring to MatchBook as a 'bundling' product as it allows readers who have already purchased a print version of a book from Amazon, to now buy the Kindle edition at a much cheaper price of either $2.99, $1.99, $0.99 or possibly even for free.
So what's in it for all three parties involved, readers, publishers and Amazon themselves?
For readers, this is unquestionably a positive thing. In today's digital world we are used to consuming the same content on multiple different devices from our smartphones and ipads to our laptops. Amazon want to offer book lovers the same flexibility and with Kindle MatchBook readers will be able to have easy access to both the print version and the digital version of the same book. Some readers may even switch between the two formats while reading the same book.
As a former commuter, I remember the horror I felt at realising I had left the book I could barely put down the night before behind on my bedside table. The thought of a forty minute train ride without it was unbearable.
With MatchBook, if the reader also has access to a digital copy, which can easily be accessed not just from a Kindle but also from the free Kindle app on any smartphone, ipad or laptop, that situation may no longer arise.
Perhaps, in a later iteration of the product Amazon may also start bundling in Audio books offering even more choice to the reader.
Another advantage for the reader will likely be when it comes to gift buying. What avid reader hasn't bought a book for a friend that is also on their own wish list? At Christmastime, when money is tighter, many readers can't afford to shell out twice for a book and secretly hope the friend may offer to lend it to them afterwards. Now, with Kindle MatchBook you can give the print copy to a friend and have the Kindle copy for yourself.
At first glance MatchBook looks like it might be an attempt on Amazon's part way to stop the declining sales of print books by increasing the value add to the consumer. However, once the reader has read a Kindle version of a book they will likely start to experiment further with ebooks. Usually, while they are in the experimental phase readers are attracted to the free and discounted books in the Amazon store. If they find good stories here as well as good value the print focused publisher may lose that reader entirely to digital. Therefore, a publisher signing up to MatchBook with the aim of growing revenue from print books only and not thinking strategically about their long term digital strategy will almost certainly lose out.
Then there will be the publishers who up to now were convinced digital was just a passing fad and who took their eyes of the game. They may find that the rights to many of the titles in their backlist will have reverted back to authors so they can't sign as many books up for the program as they could have otherwise.
However, for publishers who were savvy enough to hold onto their backlist titles and have digitised them will now benefit from an increase in revenue with all the marketing done by Amazon for free.
Although Amazon have cleverly highlighted the benefits to the readers with MatchBook you can be sure that what is good for readers is also good for Amazon. On the same day that they launched MatchBook they also launched Kindle Paperwhite, the latest version of the Kindle. Readers who will newly convert or experiment with ebooks as a result of MatchBook will get the best possible user experience if they opt to read on a device like Paperwhite. The convenience of book buying combined with the cheaper ebook prices and the engaging format of Paperwhite will surely increase the overall volume of ebook readers which is exactly what Amazon want.