Kindle MatchBook: What Do You Think?

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)

13 comments on “Kindle MatchBook: What Do You Think?

  1. I think it will work for some indie authors and not work for others. Case by case success probably. I get no requests for paperbacks and mine is sized at 8 x 11 and I already price at .99 cents, so I would have to go free. Unless I boost the price and then mark down for .99 cents. That’s just a personal sense of use for it though.

  2. Doesn’t there have to be a higher minimum cost for real books to cover production?
    Also, I don’t think Amazon or authors have to worry about the scenario of someone returning the solid book and keeping the ebook. There’s no real damage done if they do, say as opposed to never getting it at all–remember even if someone returns your ebook after reading, they still bought it in a big sense and will likely tell friends or come back and buy it for real later–or forget to return it, which is often the case, and even more often the case with an actual book–what a hassle to deal with the mail! Anyway, your posts are a great resource. Thanks for doing what you do.

    • You’re probably right about the return issue. Print books typically cost significantly more, but there are some types of books (such as how-to) where print tends to sell quite well despite the higher price (perhaps because it seems handy, or because the particular audience tends to prefer print books). It also depends on price, as I tend to prefer the paperback when I really want to buy a book, but think the e-book is too high. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and the kind words. 🙂

  3. I love this program. Signed up right away, and think it adds real value. I put a lot of thought and care into the layout and design of my print book, and wish more people would buy that (instead of the ebook), so this is a great boost for me.

  4. Thanks Chris, another insightful post. Like speakhappiness, I signed up immediately. It parallels what Amazon has done with e-book to audio. (Without the whispernet) Either way it’s hard to see a downside for most of us.

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