Amazon Kindle MatchBook bundles ebooks with print purchases
Kindle MatchBook lets users get a cheap or free ebook of print copies they already own
Amazon is bundling ebooks with print copies for the first time, via its Kindle MatchBook programme.
The retailer's AutoRip programme, already offers free MP3s with CDs and records bought on the site, and Amazon has now extended that idea to books, admitting that "bundling print and digital has been one of the most requested features from customers".
Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content, said it's "ridiculous" to charge customers "full retail twice" for the same book, but the ebooks doled out via Kindle MatchBook won't necessarily be free.
Some of the digital copies will be free, and Amazon promises the rest will be $3 or less - and it applies to books bought as far back as 1995, when Amazon's book store first opened.
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"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 Grandinetti.
Customers will be able to look though their entire print book order history to see which are part of the programme.
Amazon doesn't appear to be encouraging publishers to offer the ebooks for free, noting that Kindle MatchBook should appeal to authors and publishers alike as it adds "a new revenue stream".
The company said 10,000 books will be offered at launch via Kindle MatchBook, including authors such as Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson and Micheal Crichton, with more to be added.
Kindle MatchBook will arrive in October in the US, but it wasn't yet clear when or if it will be extended to the UK. The digital copies will only work on Kindle ebook readers or Kindle apps.