Amazon rolling out MatchBook: Get Kindle versions of print books you own for cheap or free

I had often wondered why publishers don’t give away eBook versions of books when you purchase the physical book.  I mean, you just shelled out something like $24.95 for a print book… can’t they give you the electronic version for free as a convince!!??  Doesn’t really cost anything more does it!!??  Okay, I could kind of see that it would be hard to control.  And sure, the purchaser may just give the coupon or voucher to someone else, preventing another sales perhaps.  But still.  It would be nice!!  Many DVD movies do this.  They give you the digital rights to view on your PC when you purchase the physical DVD/Blue-Ray.

Well… I need not wonder anymore.  It’s not really the publishers doing it, it is Amazon.com doing it with their innovative new program called Kindle MatchBook.  This allows authors and/or publishers to allow their Kindle versions to be discounted if you already own the print version.  This could be discounted from $2.99 to 99 cents, or even free.  It’s up to the author/publisher if they want to participate and how much to charge (if anything) for the Kindle version.

Another cool thing with this program is that it is retroactive.  So if you purchased a paperback of a book in 1995 (via your current Amazon.com account) you could be able to get the Kindle version for $2.99 or less.  If the author/publisher takes advantage of the program that is.

Don’t get too dismayed if you start looking at all your books and don’t see this offered… Not many titles are participating yet.  This program could take a few months (or a few years) to really get rolling, but I think it is a long time coming!  I’m sure this will push Barns and Noble, and all the others to follow suit as well.   I’m glad someone started it!

Amazon started doing this with audio books via Audible.com (which they own.) If you owned the Kindle version you could get the Audio version for a deep discount.  This helped spur audio book sales to new levels the past year.  For those readers with huge print book libraries but are now Kindle devotees, they will surely be thrilled to convert many of their favorites to the Kindle version for free, or even willing to shell out a buck or two for the convenience.

As an independent author I was given the choice to enroll my book in the program and I’ve jumped at the chance.  I will probably play around with the options.  For right now I am allowing anyone that purchased a print copy of The Curse of Europa to get the Kindle version for 99 cents.  I will probably make it free though in the end.  I just wanted to see how this all works first.

Remember Those Choose Your Own Adventure Books?

The Cave of Time

The Cave of Time

 

I don’t recall when I got the book “The Cave of Time” by Edward Packard, or how old I was,  but this books sticks in my mind as one of my favorites as a kid.  If you don’t know what a CYOA book is, it is a story that has multiple paths that you, as the reader and as the main character, get to choose as the story progresses.   For The Cave of Time, the cover claimed that you could choose from 40 possible endings.  I remember trying practically all of the scenarios to live out (or die in) all of the endings.  I remember getting tossed off a woolly mammoth, getting killed by a huge bug creature, and getting eaten by the Loch Ness monster, a saber tooth tiger, and a tyrannosaurus rex.   Of course there were happy endings also, but I can’t seem to remember those – must not have been as exciting.

The Cave of Time was the first of a series of 185 books published by Bantam Books from 1979 to 1998.  It was written by Edward Packard who wrote over 50 of them for Bantam.  R. A. Montgomery was the other main author (and actually founder of the series) writing about 40 of them for that publisher.   They both also wrote a series for younger readers.  R. A. Montgomery actually went on to write many other CYOA series for various other publishers.  His most memorable one is most likely “The Abominable Snowman.”  I remember having one of his called “Space and Beyond” also.

Initially the series had only mediocre sales until they decided to distribute 100,000 free books to libraries across the country.  Almost overnight, the books became a hugely popular series. In the ensuing 20 years, the CYOA series sold over 250 million copies worldwide and was translated into 38 languages.  In 2002, the last of the rights in the series reverted to founder R.A. Montgomery, who founded Chooseco a few years later, a small publisher focused exclusively on republishing the bestselling series.

A few years ago I was happy to be able to get a used copy of “The Cave of Time” off of Amazon.com that I read with my daughter.  Now my 10 year old boy is getting into them.  The cool thing is that some of them are being converted into eBooks.  You can go to Amazon.com and get The Abominable Snowman,  The Haunted House, Journey Under the Sea,  Space and Beyond, and many others for Kindle for example.   These have been updated with an interactive map that lets you know where you are in the book, links take you directly to the path you choose without flipping pages, and they give you an option to easily go back and try a different path.

Just a few years ago, Edward Packard helped create U-Ventures, an app for the iPhone or iPad.  This is an interactive book application that is free with samples of three books.  If you want to read one of the entire stories, each will cost $3.99.  These updated stories incorporate sounds, lights, and special effects into the traditional CYOA format.  The initial stories available are “Return to the Cave of Time,” plus “Through the Black Hole,” and “The Forbidden Castle.”  My 10 year old boy and I are currently reading “Through the Black Hole.”  While it works on the iPad, it is actually formatted for the iPhone.

I loved these stories so much I’m debating creating my own book with this concept, formatted especially for the eBook format.  However, I’ve got many other projects to work on first, but I will be keeping this in the back of my mind!

Do you remember reading these books?

Which ones are your favorites?