As you may have heard, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has launched a new Kindle MatchBook at Amazon. You can read more about it at the following link:
Note: As of October, 2019, the Matchbook program has been canceled.
This program is for books that are available directly from Amazon both in hard copy (paperback or hardcover, for example) and as a Kindle e-book. (This is completely independent of KDP Select, so you can enroll in Kindle MatchBook without enrolling in KDP Select. Exception: If you have KDP Select and make your book free, then that will override the MatchBook promotional price while the book is free with Select. Otherwise, the two programs are unrelated.)
The idea is that some customers may want to purchase both a physical copy of your book and a digital copy. In fact, many customers have already done this for several books in the past. What’s new is that Kindle MatchBook provides an incentive for customers who do this.
Here’s what Kindle MatchBook does: It allows the publisher to sell the Kindle e-book edition at a reduced price to a customer who wants to purchase both digital and print editions of the same book.
The promotional price can be free, 99 cents, $1.99, $2.99, or $3.99, but must be at least a 50% discount off the regular digital list price set at Amazon.
Some good news: If you ordinarily earn a 70% royalty rate for the e-book, you apparently receive 70% on the promotional price through Kindle MatchBook, even if this price is 99 cents or $1.99. When you proceed to sign up for Kindle MatchBook, you’ll be able to check your potential royalty right then, so you don’t have to guess or do math.
A promotional price of free could be a selling point. You’re basically saying, “If you buy my book in print, I’ll throw in the e-book for free.” For any readers who may appreciate this, it adds value to the print book.
Let me put a little marketing spin on this: The customer can buy the paperback book, sell the paperback book used (or give or loan it to someone) when he or she finishes reading it, and still keep a digital copy of the book on Kindle. This allows a clever customer to reuse the book, yet still keep it. If you give the customer this idea, Kindle MatchBook helps you add value to your book. (Can a customer buy the paperback, return it, and still keep the e-book at the promotional price? Good question! Publishers hope not!)
It seems like a program that could help publishers to some extent (any help is better than none), but probably won’t hurt. If hardly any customers take advantage of Kindle MatchBook, or if you almost never sell books in print, it probably won’t hurt your sales. But maybe it will help significantly: The only way to know for sure is to try it. Even in the worst case, you can simply opt out of the program whenever you feel like.
Keep in mind that whatever a customer might do with the e-book, the customer can already do that if you’re book is available as an e-book, so this shouldn’t affect whether or not you choose to use MatchBook. The customer has to buy the book in print as well as pay for the promotion price of the e-book. It’s not like the customer is getting something for nothing (which can happen with KDP Select). With MatchBook, the customer is buying the print book in addition to getting the e-book at a reduced price.
Perhaps one concern is if you ordinarily receive a much higher royalty for e-book sales than paperback sales. If the paperback royalty plus the MatchBook royalty amount to less than your current e-book royalty, then you might prefer to either raise your paperback list price, or not opt into the program.
So what do you think about MatchBook? Do you think it will catch Fire?
Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)