Amazon Now Offering Users Discounted Or Free Digital Versions Of Print Books Bought Through Its Site

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Amazon announced a new program today called Kindle MatchBook, which offers digital versions of print books purchased through its online bookstore to customers for between free and $2.99, depending on the title. The program covers book purchases ranging back to 1995, when it first started selling books to customers online.

Kindle’s MatchBook program will have over 10,000 qualifying titles to begin with when it starts up in October, and the company plans to roll out more over time. Publisher partners are responsible for enrolling books in the MatchBook program, and setting a price (free, $0.99, $1.99 or $2.99) at which their customers can also download the Kindle version of the title to their Kindle app for dedicated Kindle hardware.

If you logged onto your CompuServe account during the Clinton administration and bought a book like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus from Amazon, Kindle MatchBook now makes it possible for that purchase—18 years later—to be added to your Kindle library at a very low cost,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content in an admittedly pretty hilarious quote from the press release announcing the news.

In addition to major publishers, any authors and imprints using the Kindle Direct Publishing can enroll today so as to make their catalog available to buyers at program launch. Amazon is pushing this not only as a great value-add service for users, who’ll get a portable digital version of their book in addition to the print copy, but also as a way for publishers to get renewed revenue out of a previous sale – making it possible for someone who bought a book up to 8 years ago over again, who might otherwise have been happy to settle for just owning the paper copy could be a source of considerable additional windfall revenue for bookmakers.

Of course, for end users, free books would probably be the ideal choice (why buy again what you already own?) but it’s still a great convenience feature that will probably convince more than a few shoppers to upgrade favorite selections from their home library. As an avid reader myself, my only regret is not having used Amazon to buy more books in the past. Going forward, if I want a paper copy, I know where I’ll turn, and that’s probably exactly what Amazon’s looking to accomplish with this move.