Amazon: Get cheap e-book versions of real books you already own


With its new Matchbook program, Amazon will give consumers discounted e-book versions of physical titles they buy from the company. (David McNew/GETTY IMAGES)
September 3, 2013

For those who like both hard copies and e-versions of books but don’t want to spend twice the value of their libraries, Amazon has launched a new program that’s aimed at giving you the best of both worlds — without stretching the limits of your book budget.

The program, called Matchbook, will let users buy discounted digital versions of certain physical books they buy from the company — and can do so for books they bought from Amazon as far back as 1995.

According to Amazon’s official announcement, some of the e-book versions will be free. The most expensive will cost $2.99. The program will kick off in October.

The company said over 10,000 books will be a part of the program when it launches, specifically mentioning titles such as “I Know This Much is True” by Wally Lamb and a big 90s-era hit, Dr. John Gray’s “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”

Launching the program gives Amazon a way to offer its users an additional advantage to seek out books sold through its own online bookstore rather than those of competitors, plus a good reason to use the Kindle ecosystem for any e-reading they may want to do.

It’s yet another move from Amazon to expand the breadth of content it can offer to consumers. And with Kindle apps Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Cloud Player, the company is slowly building a catalog of multimedia entertainment that can be consumed both on its Kindle Fire as well as the devices of its competitors.

The program seems similar to one the company launched for CDs earlier this year, AutoRip, which gives users free versions of their Amazon-bought albums in its Cloud Player.

As with AutoRip, Matchbook doesn’t apply to every book you may have bought through Amazon, only those that customers bought directly from the company itself. In other words, the deal doesn’t apply if you buy books from other sellers who use Amazon’s Web site.

In other Amazon e-book news, on Tuesday the company briefly posted — and then removed — a listing for what appears to be the next generation of the Kindle Paperwhite. According to a report from Engadget, the product page advertised a device with a faster processor than its predecessor, WiFi and 3G variants and integration with the reading and rating site Goodreads. As of last week, Amazon’s Web site no longer listed the current WiFi version of the Paperwhite in stock, sparking speculation that a new version is on its way soon.

(Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has agreed to buy The Washington Post newspaper.)

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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