Amazon will launch a new service next month aimed at people who love old-fashioned paper books but want the flexibility of eBooks.
The program, called Kindle MatchBook, will let consumers who as long ago as the Clinton administration bought a physical book from Amazon snag the Kindle version for $2.99 - or less. Amazon opened its online bookstore in 1995.
Some 10,000 books will be available when MatchBook launches, at first from a combination of Harper Collins and Amazon's own publishing unit. Several authors including Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton and Jodi Picoult will have their works featured in MatchBook. The online bookseller says users will have full access to their purchase history to determine which books are eligible.
"I love this concept," says Avi Greengart, Current Analysis research director for consumer devices. "The idea of tying the physical and digital together fits well with Amazon's brand."
All the standard Kindle features will work with titles purchased through MatchBook, such as WhisperSync and Popular Highlights. Books acquired through the service can be read on dedicated Kindle e-Readers, of course, but also through the company's Kindle apps for smartphones and tablets.
It'll be up to publishers and authors to determine whether to make books that have gone through various editions or translations eligible for the program.
Separately, Amazon announced a new Kindle model Tuesday, an updated $119 version of the Kindle Paperwhite with a built-in reading light that ships Sept 30.
Amazon doesn't break out Kindle sales. But Russ Grandinetti, Amazon's vice president of Kindle Content, says there's still a lot of demand for dedicated e-readers even as Amazon and others sell multipurpose tablets.
"We think there is a long, long, long future ahead for dedicated e-reading devices. Some people like to read on their phones, some people like to read on their multipurpose tablets. And a lot of people like to read, particularly if you read a lot, on a dedicated e-reading device." Kindle models start at $69.
By Edward C. Baig and Brett Molina, USA Today