It’s well known among my friends and colleagues that I prefer to go to a bookstore than a bar.
And, I definitely prefer to read a print copy of a book than to read a virtual copy on an e-reader or a computer.
But, I understand the advantages of electronic books – things like searchability, bookmarks without turning the corners of the pages over, marking up sections of text, copying passages for use in various projects, and the ease of taking a selection of books with you.
It’s just that I love the feel of holding a book and turning the pages. Old habits and sensibilities die hard.
Amazon has come up with a new scheme – called Kindle MatchBook, launching in October – to sell discounted e-books to those who already own a hard copy, purchased previously from Amazon. It only applies to a selection of about 10,000 titles, but there is no limit on when the purchases were made (you can go all the way back to 1995 when Amazon first opened its online bookstore.)
This particular offer doesn’t get me very excited because I mostly see it as a way for Amazon “supersize” their delivery of books. For just a couple dollars, they are giving you an electronic file of a book already purchased at a much higher price than the electronic copy will cost. Given the fact that the incremental costs of electronic copies are close to zero, this scheme, if it works, should make Amazon a tidy profit.
Amazon also has another service called AutoRip where they send you MP3 files of songs on a selection of CDs that they sell. It’s the same idea, saving you a bit of time compared to ripping your own tunes.
In the end, we are in a world where each major business is trying to keep customers tied into its particular commercial ecosystem, and, in the process, to create a monopoly. Bundling print and digital has been one of the most requested features from customers – now they can collect books for their shelves and take a copy with them for reading on the go.
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