IT looks like Amazon is still leading the way in the e-book universe. Come October, Amazon will launch the Kindle Matchbook, a format on which readers can get digital copies of their hard copy books.ONE of the most difficult things about moving, especially if you have to downsize, is parting with your books. This was the dilemma I faced a year ago when I had to squeeze an apartment's worth of belongings into two suitcases when I moved from Kuala Lumpur to Adelaide.
Unfortunately, many of my beloved books never followed me to Australia. I gave most of them away to
a church while the surviving collection (a mere 10% of my 1,000 books) is currently stored in my parents' home, covered in clingwrap to preserve it from dust, critters and other book-damaging elements.
More than once I wished that I could have digitised my entire collection so that it could fit in my slim e-book reader which could carry up to a hundred or more ebooks.Amazon must have heard laments like mine because come October, it will introduce Kindle Matchbook, a service where readers can get digital copies of printed books.
According to their website, if you've bought a book (it must be a new copy) from Amazon "going all the
way back to 1995 when Amazon first opened its online bookstore", you are entitled to buy a digital copy
for "US$2.99, US$1.99, US$0.99, or free".
Apparently, according to an article in Forbes (Kindle MatchBook Is Just What The Dusty Books On My
Shelf Have Been Waiting For, Sept 3, 2013) customers can view their entire order history after Kindle
Matchbook launches. If that's so, there are a few books I'm just dying to get digital copies of!
“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 addition to being a great new benefit for customers, this is an easy choice for publishers and authors who will now be able to earn more from each book they publish.”
With this service, this means that readers can have a physical book sitting in their bookshelf and a digital
copy in their device. You don't have to carry your precious physical book with you. Instead, store it in your Kindle or smartphone and read it while you're waiting for the bus or taxi. I wonder if this paves the way for books to one day be collector's items -- to be seen and rarely touched.
According to Amazon, bundling print and digital editions together have been one of the most requested
feature of Amazon customers.
Now, it's about time a service like this exists. I imagine a future where purchases for print books will be
bundled with a digital copy. In a world where unsold books are lamentably pulped, such wastage could
be a thing of the past as people turn digital.
If this trend is picked up by book retailers such as Barnes and Noble - they have bricks and mortar stores and also distribute ebooks via their ebook reader, Nook - we could head towards a future where physical books could be bundled with not just e-book versions but audio and who knows, perhaps an extra freebie or two?
Still, while it's a good idea, there's no guarantee that Amazon's programme will succeed. For one, if
publishers are not keen to be part of it, the car is dead before it drives out of the driveway.
Publishers Weekly in the article, Are Publishers a Match for Kindle Matchbook? reported that "the effort
drew little response from publishers, and even less participation."
Only HarperCollins has joined the programme; other publishers are skittish - some, even dismissive. According to the same PW article, some in the publishing industry even believe that bundling devalues an author's work.
But publishers have always been skittish about new developments in the ebook universe. Eventually,
demand could push things in readers' favour. For now, we can only wait and see.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own