It was Christmas season 1996, and you had dialed up on your AOL account, powered past the adrenaline-pumping anticipation of being informed that “You’ve Got Mail,” and navigated to cutting-edge online book seller Amazon.com to order Nicholas Sparks’s newest bestseller, The Notebook. (for your wife.)
The years have now passed, a movie adaptation was made (you cried in the cineplex as a testament to the security of your manhood), and you sent the kids off to college. Now you could use an old guilty pleasure for your Kindle commute, but refuse to pay full price for an e-edition of a book you already own and have on the shelf (some shelf, maybe in the garage).
Scrappy upstart no more, online shopping behemoth Amazon announced yesterday that it was here to help you out, launching Kindle MatchBook. Under the program, any books from a participating publisher you’ve bought since Amazon’s inception will be available for a discounted Kindle price, not to exceed $2.99. Amazon calls ebook bundling one of their most requested features, as it allows readers to combine the portability and searchable features of e-books with the spacial memory and familiar touch of deceased plant matter. Moreover, it would allow Amazon to collect a little bit more revenue on sales it already made, and make a little bit more going forward. When you work with the scale that Amazon does, those little bits can add up in a hurry.
According to Laura Hazard Owen of PaidContent, however, “Publishers have been reluctant to bundle print and ebooks, both because they usually don’t have the technology and because they fear giveaways will cut into paid sales.” To help prod the publishers along, Amazon is giving them the flexibility to run promotional bundles with limited timeframes, perhaps as part of a book’s launch, or even a “Nicholas Sparks Classics” week.
Announced in concert with an upgraded version of the Kindle Paperwhite, Brad Stone at Bloomberg BusinessWeek says they “really show how Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is, link by link, constructing a wall around his digital-reading ecosystem that manages to be both alluring to readers and virtually insurmountable for competitors.”
Bezos has built his behemoth to be able to deliver more books, at lower prices, possibly faster, than any potential competitor, without even the need to make a profit while doing it. The Kindle MatchBook bundling program further consolidates Amazon’s appeal as the first and last place to buy a book by adding one more weight to the scales of consumer calculation. No matter how the program precisely shakes out with publishers, any potential book buyer will know that there is no chance of getting their discounted Kindle edition down the line should they buy from Barnes and Noble, or their local bookstore.