So Amazon have announced Kindle Matchbook, initially for the US, but hopefully like Autorip it will come to the UK sometime later. The Amazon press release is here, BBC News have also picked up the story.
The idea seems to be that if you’ve bought a printed book from Amazon you can get a copy of the ebook version for a discounted price or maybe even free. The scheme will apply to books bought as far back as 1995, but as it stands there’s currently just 10,000 eligible titles. Although as with Autorip you’d expect that to expand as Amazon negotiates with more publishers. Presumably making this available in the UK will depend on which UK publishers come on board.
It’s easy to see this as an obvious step following on from Autorip (where you can get a free MP3 version of CDs you’ve bought through Amazon). Amazon may see this as a way to grow their ebook customer base by encouraging people who’ve bought the book to try the ebook. Whereas with CDs/MP3 I can see how useful it is to have both formats, for many people their CDs are going to turn into MP3s at some stage (although your autorip MP3s only seem to be playable from Amazon Cloud Player).
For books/ebooks I’m not quite so sure that I’d want ebook versions of everything I’d bought as a printed book. If you are someone who reads and re-reads your books then I can see it being a selling point. But I don’t often go back and re-read fiction that I’ve bought, or even some of the lighter non-fiction. So it’s not too much of a benefit. It’s interesting though if you’ve bought books as a present for people, in that you could get a free or cheap ebook version. Where I think it would be particularly useful is for non-fiction/reference-type books that you go back to. It will be interesting to see the mix of books that are made available through Matchbook.