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.

Note: As of October, 2019, the Matchbook program has been canceled.

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)

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.

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%.

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

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)