Amazon bundles print and ebooks together with Kindle MatchBook

New scheme will apply retroactively to purchases from 1995, though few publishers have signed up so far.

Amazon has announced plans to offer customers digital copies of books they have purchased for free or discounted prices.

Named Kindle MatchBook, the scheme will apply retroactively to books purchased from 1995 onwards – the year Amazon opened its first online store.

More expensive titles will cost $2.99 for their ebook equivalent, though Amazon says other price options will be “$1.99, $0.99, or free”. The ebooks will be available exclusively for "the Amazon ecosystem of digital content", meaning they will only work for Kindle owners.

Over 10,000 books will be available from MatchBook’s launch in October, with books launched from the likes of Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Neil Gaiman, Jodi Picoult, and Neal Stephenson. This is far from comprehensive coverage, considering the hundreds of thousands of titles that Amazon stocks.

“In addition to being a great new benefit for customers, this is an easy choice for publishers and authors who will now be able to earn more from each book they publish,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content.

The success of the scheme will depend upon copyright holders agreeing to Amazon’s terms, and the e-commerce giant say their announcement of the scheme is also “a call to all authors and publishers to enroll their books in Kindle MatchBook—offering customers great value while adding a new revenue stream.”

The scheme is similar to the company’s AutoRip service launched in January this year, followed by a June launch in Europe. This allowed customers to scan back through CDs they had purchased from Amazon and download MP3 versions of the tracks.

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