Get the Most out of Kindle MatchBook

Matchbook 2

Cover design by Melissa Stevens at http://www.theillustratedauthor.net.

Is Kindle MatchBook Working for You?

If you have a print edition (e.g. through CreateSpace) and Kindle edition for the same book, you may be eligible to participate in the Kindle MatchBook program. (Scroll down to learn more about what MatchBook is and how to participate.)

Authors who are eligible almost always check the box to enroll in the MatchBook program. Why not? Nothing really to lose, but you might generate a few extra sales.

But many authors aren’t getting as much out of this valuable marketing tool as they could be.

If the only thing you do with MatchBook is check that box to participate and select a MatchBook price, you probably won’t get much out of the program.

Why not? Because most people aren’t going to see the offer, and many who do won’t fully realize how beneficial it can be.

  • You can’t see the offer from the Kindle e-book’s product page (unless you’ve already bought the paperback edition). So if the customer was shopping for the Kindle edition, the customer will just buy the Kindle edition without even realizing that MatchBook was a possibility.
  • It’s not very visible on the paperback product page. There’s a little note about it on the right-hand side a ways down, overlooked by most customers.
  • You can only see the MatchBook offer on Kindle e-book’s product page in the following circumstances: (1) the book is participating in the MatchBook program (2) the customer has already bought the print edition from Amazon (3) the customer is presently logged in, using the same account used to purchase the print edition (4) the MatchBook offer is the lowest available price to the customer (e.g. if your book happens to be free or on sale for a price lower than the MatchBook price, then the MatchBook offer won’t be shown).

Among those few customers who do see the MatchBook offer, many won’t realize on their own how they could really benefit from it.

This doesn’t mean that Kindle MatchBook is of little importance and can only add on rare sales.

Rather, it means, just like almost everything else about selling books, you have to learn and apply effective marketing strategies to get the most out of the tool. (The same is true, by the way, regarding freebies and Countdown Deals: Effective promotional strategies help to get the most out of these tools; simply running the promotion might turn out to be a dud, but effective marketing can yield significant results.)

Let me first back up and give an overview of what the Kindle MatchBook program is, then I’ll provide some concrete suggestions for how to take advantage of this promotional opportunity.

What Is Kindle MatchBook?

Kindle MatchBook is a promotional tool available to authors who have both print and Kindle editions of the same book.

The author or publisher can then choose to enroll the Kindle edition in the MatchBook program. A promotional price is set for the MatchBook offer.

When a customer buys the print edition of the book from Amazon, that customer becomes eligible for the MatchBook offer. The customer can then buy the Kindle edition at a special price.

Essentially, the MatchBook program provides an incentive to customers to buy both print and Kindle editions of the same book: Buy both editions and save.

If you would like to learn more about Kindle MatchBook, follow this link to the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) help page for MatchBook:

https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=AVJCUBZXDNUM4

How to Get the Most out of Kindle MatchBook

One way to inspire more MatchBook sales is to learn some effective techniques to sell more paperback books. The more paperback books you well, the greater the chances of customers discovering and taking advantage of the MatchBook offer. I sell 8 to 15 times as many paperback books as e-books, and every month some of my Kindle purchases are through MatchBook.

Obviously, some types of books tend to sell better in paperback than others. Many kinds of nonfiction books, for example, tend to sell better in print; many fictional works sell much better as e-books.

But even with books that tend to sell better as e-books, there are still many customers who prefer printed books to e-books. There is a market for print books. You just need to find ways to tap into this market.

Here are some ideas to help you think of ways to market your paperback books:

  • When you include a link to your book, do you only link to the Kindle edition? Well, try including two links, one marked ‘Kindle’ and the other marked ‘paperback.’
  • Or include just the link to the paperback. Yeah, it’s the higher price. Think about it. The customer is considering buying a $13.25 paperback. Then they see there is a Kindle edition for $3.99. Having just seen and considered a $13.25 paperback, your $3.99 e-book looks like great savings.
  • Do a book signing. Gee, customers will need to buy some print editions in order to get their autographs. You make a higher royalty when you sell author copies. Customers who buy author copies aren’t eligible for MatchBook, but these paperback sales may help inspire more sales (see my point about how print sales help with marketing below).
  • Get local bookstores to stock your book. Get the local library to keep a copy of your book. Again, these won’t be eligible for MatchBook, but can help inspire more paperback sales (even on Amazon, through the marketing effect of having more paperback books out there).
  • Perhaps you can find a local or online book club that uses print books to use your book. There are many ways to use your creativity to help market your books; what you really need to do is get your brain churning and focus on where to find your target audience.
  • Use MatchBook to help inspire more paperback sales. It’s an incentive to buy both editions. Buy the paperback and get a discount on the Kindle edition. You just need to let people know about it. (See below for ideas.)

You might be wondering whether or not you want to sell more paperbacks. Suppose you’re making a $4 royalty for Kindle sales and a $3 royalty for paperback sales. That Kindle sale seems better, doesn’t it? (Well, maybe you didn’t price your paperback high enough.) There are other things to consider. For example, if you sell more paperbacks, your paperback sales rank will improve. Plus, you’d ideally like to sell both paperbacks and Kindle editions together using MatchBook. Finally, there is a marketing benefit to selling more paperbacks:

  • Paperbacks are good marketing tools. Every paperback you sell can potentially be seen by a customer reading the book on a bus, or lying on a coffee table when friends come over. If you have an amazing cover, this can really pay dividends. “Hey, what’s that book you’re reading?”

The real ‘trick‘ to inspiring more MatchBook sales is to turn this into a promotional tool:

  • With all the marketing you already do, just add a brief note at the end of it to the effect of, “Get the Kindle edition for 99 cents (or whatever it is) when you buy the paperback from Amazon first.” Or you can shorten it something like, “Kindle MatchBook price: 99 cents,” then describe briefly what the customer needs to know about MatchBook in a footnote or endnote.
  • Even better, advertise an incentive for customers to buy both the paperback and Kindle edition together through MatchBook. Show customers how this can be handy. For example, you can buy the paperback edition as a gift and read the Kindle edition for yourself.
  • That’s perfect for Christmas and birthdays. Advertise this during the holiday season: “Give a great gift and keep a copy for yourself.” Mention how MatchBook allows you to gift the paperback and keep a Kindle edition for yourself at a discounted price. MatchBook is a great Christmas marketing tool.
  • This year, one way authors can participate in Read Tuesday (a holiday marketing opportunity—it’s free—that I created; it’s like a Black Friday just for books) is by making the MatchBook price free. I’ll promote the gift potential that MatchBook provides as part of the Read Tuesday marketing. Check out www.readtuesday.com. (It still has the 2013 info there, but that will update in the coming weeks. I have some new ideas for making Read Tuesday even better, and it started with a nice bang last year.)
  • Set the MatchBook price to FREE for a limited time. Run this as a promotion and spread the news: “For two weeks only, you can get the Kindle edition free through MatchBook when you buy the paperback edition.”
  • A free MatchBook offer (even if it’s temporary) can help you stimulate more paperback sales. Provided that you advertise the offer. (If you want to improve your paperback sales rank or take advantage of some of the marketing that paperback sales bring, MatchBook can help you do it.)
  • When you interact with people in your target audience (something you should be doing as part of your marketing anyway), mention how they can take advantage of MatchBook and show them why this may be useful (i.e. mention the gift idea).

MatchBook isn’t the magical tool that will do all the work for you and end your marketing woes all by itself.

But MatchBook does have amazing potential as a marketing tool. You really don’t have to do additional marketing to take advantage of MatchBook. You just need to briefly mention the MatchBook potential in the marketing you already do.

Some authors excel at making the most of the free marketing tools at their disposal. You could be one of those authors. What it really takes is the determination and motivation to succeed at it.

Check your MatchBook royalty on Page 2 of the publishing process at KDP. Make sure you’re happy with the royalty (and realize that this will be in addition to the paperback royalty.)

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2014 Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing

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Kindle MatchBook has Launched at Amazon (Updated)

Just Launched

Update: It looks like Amazon has updated Kindle MatchBook to display an advertisement about Kindle MatchBook on the top of the page for print books, where there is a corresponding Kindle edition enrolled in the MatchBook program.

Today Amazon launched the new Kindle MatchBook program. There is an advertisement for it on Amazon’s homepage, presently, and a very brief email was sent out to authors who had already signed up for it.

The idea behind the MatchBook program is to allow customers who purchase a print edition of the book to receive a significant discount off the Kindle edition of the same book (it may even be free).

MatchBook only applies to books where the same edition is available both in Kindle and in print (i.e. paperback or hardcover).

Not all books are in the MatchBook program. The publisher (or author, if self-published) must manually enroll the book in the program. Some publishers may opt not to do this. The discount is also at the publisher’s discretion, provided that it is a minimum of 50% off the Kindle edition’s list price (and must be free, 99 cents, $1.99, or $2.99).

You can learn more about the new Kindle MatchBook program by clicking the following link, which goes to a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) page:

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=AVJCUBZXDNUM4

If the Kindle edition offers MatchBook, you’ll see one of three things near the top of the Kindle edition page:

  • Nothing at all if you already own the Kindle edition. Why frustrate you by showing you that you could have bought it for less by waiting for MatchBook to come out? If you want to see the MatchBook offer, log out of Amazon first.
  • An offer to buy the Kindle edition at the discounted MatchBook price if you already own the print edition of the same book.
  • A note that you could buy the Kindle edition at the discounted MatchBook price if you also purchase the print edition if you don’t already own the print edition.

There are a few important things to note here:

  • If you try to give the book as a gift, you must pay the full list price. Apparently, the MatchBook price doesn’t apply to gifting. That’s too bad, as it would be a nice incentive for someone to buy the print edition to keep and the Kindle edition to gift. However, you can keep the Kindle edition and give the print edition away as a gift (or try to resell it used, perhaps).
  • It looks like you can only buy one Kindle edition at the MatchBook price. This may help to prevent possible abuse.
  • The print edition page now includes an advertisement about the MatchBook program at the top of the page if the Kindle edition of the same book is enrolled in the MatchBook program.

A cool thing about MatchBook for authors is that if you ordinarily earn the 70% royalty rate on a sale, you still earn 70% if the MatchBook price is below $2.99.

Note that if you make the MatchBook price free, MatchBook sales won’t affect your book’s paid sales rank. Instead, they will affect your book’s free rank. This is what KDP told me after a week of research. If you discover otherwise, please share the news. 🙂 (It will be interesting if your book toggles between free and paid sales ranks with a free MatchBook price, since some customers will still be buying the book at the list price because they don’t own the print edition.)

It doesn’t look like the month-to-date sales report will help you see how many MatchBook sales you have, but you should be able to see it in the six-week report. Unfortunately, it will be a while before any MatchBook sales appear in a six-week report since the program started today.

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)

MatchBook and Kindle Sales Rank (A Hard-to-Get Answer)

When I went to enroll my books in Kindle MatchBook—a new program from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP); you can learn more about MatchBook by clicking this link—an important point occurred to me:

  • Will the MatchBook sales improve your Kindle sales rank?
  • If so, if you make the MatchBook price free, will that also affect your sales rank?

Here’s why it’s important: If the MatchBook freebies would improve your Kindle sales rank, that would serve as an incentive to offer print customers a free Kindle edition.

I checked my email, the September KDP newsletter, and the information about MatchBook available from a link on my KDP bookshelf (which all boiled down to the same information), and this point wasn’t clarified. I then posted this as a question in the KDP community forum; there was some interest in the answer, but nobody there apparently knew the answer, either.

Next, I contacted KDP. They responded in a day, but only to tell me that they needed 5 more days to figure out the answer. (!) Today, KDP responded (yep, today was day number five).

If I was informed correctly, 99 cent, $1.99, and $2.99 MatchBook sales will improve your Kindle sales rank, whereas free MatchBook sales will instead count toward your free sales rank.

Wait a minute. Something seems strange here.

When you make an e-book free through KDP Select, the book is free all day. During this time, the e-book has a free sales rank. When the free promotion ends, the e-book returns to the paid sales rank.

But MatchBook won’t be free all day! People can buy your Kindle e-book at any time. So if one customer “buys” your e-book for free through MatchBook, three seconds later someone else might pay for it at the Kindle sales price.

What’s going to happen? Will the book have a free sales rank and a paid sales rank at the same time? Will your book be ranked among freebies and paid books simultaneously?

It seems it may be so, based on what I’ve been told. (Or your book could toggle back and forth between the free and paid sales ranks with every free or paid purchase.)

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)

Have you Considered These Benefits of Kindle MatchBook?

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.

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%.

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=AVJCUBZXDNUM4

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)

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:

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=AVJCUBZXDNUM4

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)