Posted on 2013-Sep-06
If you think you have heard of Amazon too often of late as if it were one of the household names, you might be pleasantly surprised to receive another updated stream of new projects that has flooded your news subscription channels. In fact, it seems that they still guard new surprises up their sleeve even after their signature eReader, Kindle Paperwhite, launched a couple of days ago. But Amazon’s news feeds did not stop there.
Thanks to our managing Director, who allowed me to temporarily use his Amazon account, I was able to get inside the new program Amazon Publishing has to offer, Kindle MatchBook. If you missed their announcemen, let us fill in the preliminary information about the program on how it can benefit both authors and readers. Based on the publicly available fact sheet, the latest program from Amazon allows customers who buy or have bought a print book from their website to purchase its Kindle edition of that book for $2.99 or less. There is a list of books that will join the program (e.g. Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True, Michael Crichton’s Prey, Jodi Picoult’s Prey). If you are also participating in KDP program, you will still earn a royalty based on your list price.
Match Kindle Edition with Paperback
The benefit of joining Kindle MatchBook is somewhat self-explanatory. You use your Kindle edition of your book to match your print version. As mentioned earlier, in their official statement, you can sell more books and still earn royalties on Kindle sales as promoted by the presence of your print book. With the advent of your print sales and low-end price range of your digital version, your Kindle edition has higher incentives to appeal customers especially when your readers have bought your print book. This also marks a significant opportunity for you to reconnect with your customers. Apparently, the seamless integration of Kindle edition will truly bridge the gap between the two formats; for booklovers who have bought the print book, they can find better motivation to get their fingers swipe the eReader screen for a nominal fee. Kindle edition may be seen like an extension of the print book in this occasion; however, booklovers are exposed to the eBook experience that they have probably refused to experiment before.
To participate in the program, I kept the journal of our trial in the form of screenshots to show you what the program can offer. While the initial experiment with the program sounded too convenient, I had to consult the FAQ page back and forth to figure out the right button to press. First things first, you need to log in to your Amazon account. If you have joined the KDP program, you can bypass the general user’s login page and fast proceed to the KDP one to view your bookshelf. The bookshelf page shows every single book that has either been drafted or written for publication. Out of the 8 titles listed in this page, only one has a paperback version.
Enrolling in the Program
After deciding which book to enroll in the program, I ticked the box and clicked ‘Actions’ to pull up the drop down menu. Choose ‘Edit Rights, royalty and pricing’ and scroll down the page to item no. 9 that states Kindle Matchbook.
Tick the box that says ‘This title is enrolled in Kindle MatchBook. Uncheck to opt out of the program’ and check the discounted price based on the system’s suggestion. Unfortunately, it seems there is not much an option to choose from between the restricted $0.99 and free. Once I asked for the highest range possible ($0.99), I ticked the box to confirm my rights to make the content available for marketing…and clicked ‘Save and Publish’.
After that, the publishing window appeared and informed that it would probably take up to 12 hours for the book to be available in Amazon Kindle Store.
Book in Review
There was a button that would take you back to the Bookshelf. Now that I chose two books, The Sentinel in Sector 5 and The Bunker below Believers’ Palace: A Short Story, to enroll the program, they became non-selectable grey letter with the status changing from ‘Live’ to ‘In Review’. I made a mistake choosing the latter book since it is being offered free so I’d rather focus on The Sentinel in Sector 5. Now that the two books are being reviewed by the Kindle Operations team, all I could do was play the waiting game.
Although I lost track of how many hours it had taken for the team to approve my request, it sure took longer than 1 day for the book, ‘The Sentinel in Sector 5’, to reappear with exactly the same price on the product page.
To clarify how the book in both versions was priced in prior to the program enrollment, the book in Kindle edition was set at $2.99 whereas the paperback’s list price was $9.49. To do a rough math calculation, the original price was already lower than 50% of the paperback version. I felt a bit confused how Kindle MatchBook had changed anything.
No Changes in Price vs. Price Adjustment
I rechecked the book page and saw no changes in the digital version’s price. Then I realized the fact that I was logged in an account of which has bought the eBook before. Logging out was the instant thing I did and that was when the newly updated price emerged. The new list lives up to the advertisement that the digital edition price will be slashed at least 50%.
While the price of the paperback remains the same, the Kindle Edition price has been adjusted to $4.99 irrespective of the former list price at $2.99. This is due to the fact that I was signed into my Thailand-based account, which like many other countries adds to two bucks to all eBooks in the Amazon Kindle store. So the novella's price remains the same at $2.99 as set in KDP.
The Best of Both Worlds
While this newly affected price will remain under our close investigation, we would like to keep the price as it is for the moment. We can see how it can benefit authors who have solely published the paperback version and planned to release the digital version in the near future. Instead of leaving the publisher of print book clueless about digital marketing opportunities, Amazon’s suggested discount seems to provide a clearer picture how the book in two formats are optimized for everyone. While you buy and flip through the actual pages of your favorite book, it is equally a remarkable experience to relive your special moment in reading swiping the eBook to make a page-turning command.
Broader Scope of Discoverability
Of the two book formats, they serve the same function as a pillar for knowledge, entertainment, self-discovery, inspiration, development, etc. With Kindle MatchBook, readers who prefer the print version have a better reason to get their hands on eBook if they have not discovered it yet. For authors with a backlist, apart from having it released in eBook format to appeal eReader owners, now you know how you can reward the customers who have bought your paperback.
However, please be advised that Kindle MatchBook seems to be more geared toward publishers who charge ~$9.99 for eBooks with a paperback less than $20. It is somewhat questionable how this program will truly benefit independent authors, but time will tell.
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