Amazon MatchBook – the New Program in Town!

On Tuesday, Amazon announced a new program they are calling Amazon MatchBook. I spent some time reading the news on this and was pretty surprised to find that people already have gotten it wrong.

Amazon Matchbook
photo by cosma via

Here is the official description we received: The Kindle MatchBook program gives customers who purchase or have previously purchased your print book from Amazon the option to purchase your Kindle version for $2.99 or less. If you have a print version of this title, enroll your title and select a Promotional List Price that is lower than your Kindle List Price by at least 50%. (Prices greater than 50% of the Kindle List Price will not be available to select.).

So, rather than outlining the program in detail, I will address some of the mistakes I have heard made – sadly, most of them in other media articles. You can read their official FAQ’s here (if you are signed up for KDP).

  • You have to print your book through Createspace. FALSE – All print books are eligible for the program. This particular mistake seems to have come about because the internal FAQ’s indicate that you can produce a print version of your book should you not have one, through Createspace. TRUE – You must have a Kindle version of you book AND a print version of you book (hence the matching part of this – they are being sold as a bundle). Also, if you only own the rights to one or the other version (common with backlist titles from a few years back, where authors may own their digital rights), you are probably out of luck.
  • The MatchBook program is part of the KDP Select program. FALSE – You can opt in to this program without signing an exclusive agreement with Amazon. TRUE – You can also opt out at any time after enrolling.
  • All books sold through Amazon will be automatically be enrolled in this. FALSE – I have seen articles talking gleefully about how any and every book you have ever purchased in print from Amazon will be included, even ones you purchased many years ago at newly reasonable prices (in case you hadn’t noticed, many publishers charge more for digital back list titles than they do for paperbacks). Don’t get too excited yet, folks! This is true ONLY if the publisher goes in to their account and activates the MatchBook option, and sets a price for the ebook. It remains to be seen how many publishers or authors will actually do this. TRUE – all books sold in print by Amazon (ever) are eligible for the program, provided that other pieces are in place (keeping in mind many titles before a year or two ago will not have Kindle versions).
  • Amazon determines the price for the matched Kindle book. FALSE – The pricing is set by the publisher or author, BUT there are rules. From the FAQ’s:

Promotional List Price options must be at least 50% lower than the regular Digital List Price for the Kindle MatchBook program to be a compelling discount for readers.

When you set the Promotional List Price, only options that result in a discount of 50% or more will be available. For example, if you set the regular Digital List Price of your book to $3.99, your Promotional List Price options for that book will be $1.99, $0.99, or free (because the $2.99 option is not a 50% discount off of $3.99).

A few further key details:

  • The royalty payouts from Amazon are not changing. Whatever your rate from them is now on a $1.99 book (or whatever price you set), it will be for this program as well.
  • What happens if you run a free or low price promotion running (i.e. through KDP Select)? That will take precedence. If you have a free promotion running, anyone who downloads the book even through MatchBook, will get the book for free (which seems fair and logical to me).

I guess the real question is, does this sell more books in the long run? It will obviously be quite some time before we know that. It does seem as though it would have two primary markets as obvious starting points 1) non-fiction books which are convenient to have in paper for home, and digital everywhere else (my husband’s ginormous coding manuals for example) 2) collectable books. There are several author’s whose print books have been in my library for years, and who I would love to be able to buy in print for the shelf, but have on my iPad for convenience and actual reading.

As for Booktrope – of course we will try it! Anyone who knows anything about us knows we love trying new things, and are not afraid of giving away books as a way to generate more sales. I think it is safe to say we will jump in with both feet to see how the water is. I will report back as we gain more direct insight!


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