First I’ll address how customers can benefit from Kindle’s new MatchBook, and then I’ll conclude with how authors and publishers can benefit from it.
Note: As of October, 2019, the Matchbook program has been canceled.
The new Kindle MatchBook allows customers who buy a print edition (hardcover or paperback) of a book to buy the Kindle edition of the same book at a discounted price – if the publisher enrolls the book in the program. The discount will be at least 50% off the digital list price, and may be up to 100%.
Have you ever bought a book as a hard copy because that was the most convenient way to read it? Maybe it was a nonfiction book, such as a how-to guide. You want the book spread open, with a lot of information on one page, as you try out the instructions. Maybe you have highlighting and annotations throughout the book. The index and glossary may have been quite handy.
Every once in a while, you really wished that you had the book with you, but didn’t. Too bad you couldn’t find a copy of it on your cell phone.
Imagine if you could have downloaded a copy of the e-book for free, or a low price like 99 cents (pretty cheap compared to a print copy that may run $10 to $25, or so). This way, you could always have the e-book right at your fingertips, while still enjoying the print edition.
Here is another example of how to benefit from MatchBook. You can buy the print edition at the going price and the Kindle edition at the discounted MatchBook price. When you finish reading the print edition, you can resell it, give it to a friend, or lend it to a neighbor, for example, while still retaining the digital copy for yourself. This lets you share your book with others and keep it, too.
This could be handy for books that are published as print editions first, and Kindle editions later, provided that they are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook (and assuming that Amazon doesn’t impose a time limit on taking advantage of the MatchBook offer – or perhaps the e-book will be available for preorder, if published by one of the big publishing houses).
Collectors should see a great benefit of Kindle MatchBook. Suppose you buy a brand new first edition and wish to collect it. You can keep it in mint condition by not reading the print edition at all: Simply save the collectible copy and read the Kindle edition instead.
Authors and publishers should expect to do more than merely enroll their books in the program and see what happens. All authors and publishers who are familiar with marketing know that books don’t sell themselves – i.e. just hitting the publish button isn’t enough. It takes marketing to sell books.
Similarly, just enrolling the books in Kindle MatchBook isn’t enough. If that’s all authors and publishers do, they shouldn’t expect to see a significant impact from MatchBook.
Instead, what authors and publishers need to do is promote the benefits of MatchBook to their potential customers. Just like always, price doesn’t sell books. However, marketing helps customers find books that meet their needs.
Here are a few ways to promote the benefits of MatchBook:
- Promote the discounted MatchBook price. If the Kindle edition is free with the purchase of a print copy, market this selling point. Even if it’s not free, the discount is worth promoting as an incentive. Make potential customers aware of this through your marketing endeavors.
- Spread the word about the possible benefits of MatchBook. Help to convey the idea that it’s beneficial to customers. Give specific examples to show customers how they might individually benefit from the program. Especially, giving them ideas that might not have occurred to them might get their attention.
- Help to build positive buzz for this new marketing tool, while specifically trying to build buzz for how customers might benefit from MatchBook for your books.
Note that if the digital list price is $2.99 or higher and you ordinarily earn a 70% royalty (after subtracting the delivery charge based on the file size), you will still earn a 70% royalty on the MatchBook price even if it is 99 cents or $1.99. (You normally earn 35% on any Kindle e-book priced below $2.99, so it’s pretty cool that they’re paying 70% on these 99-cent and $1.99 MatchBook prices.) You’ll be able to see what your royalty will be before you hit the publish button.
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)