So Amazon (aka the Book Behemoth) has announced a plan to offer cheaper Kindle versions of physical books customers have already bought. Seems pretty fair. If I’ve already paid $15 or more for a hard copy of a book, for instance, it does seem only right that I should get the ebook version for a small fee, rather than paying the full Kindle price.
Only problem? Publishers and agents have to get on board. So far, Amazon says, “Over 10,000 books will already be available when Kindle MatchBook launches in October.” That sounds like a large number at first glance, but really, it’s a tiny amount compared to all the books that are out there, just even those published in the past couple of years. I’m sure the problem of getting all books (or a majority, at least from the big publishers) available for this great bundling offer is the desire for publishers and agents to have a chunk of that income, even though it will be fairly small (the Kindle versions offered this way will be $2.99 or less). That’s fair, too, sure. But given what I’ve read about how hard they’ve fought Amazon on all kinds of other ebook policies and pricing (and, sure, that’s only right, too, for them to have their fair share, and it’s not like Amazon isn’t a bit like the Wal-Mart of online book selling), sometimes seeming overly greedy themselves, I doubt it’s going to be anytime soon that they’ll come to an agreement that everyone can be happy with.
That’s a shame, though, because this is a fantastic idea. I know that even though I have a Kindle, I still enjoy having some books in hard copy format, and it can be tricky to choose how I want to spend my reading money (oh, if only I had an unlimited budget just for books!). If I knew I could spend an extra $2 or so and get both the hard copy and ebook, I’d be happy to do so. I do enjoy having well-loved books sitting physically on my bookshelf, but being able to have them on my Kindle if I feel like reading them again when I’m “out and about” is also wonderful. The Kindle has some great advantages, as I’ve already written, and I’m not too much of a purist to spurn it.
OK, publishers and agents: get on board with this bundling plan, and do it fast.