Amazon Offering Discount E-Books On Previously Purchased Books (But The Selection Is Wanting)

Looking at the current state of MatchBook, it feels like this photo may represent all the books currently included in the program.

Looking at the current state of MatchBook, it feels like this photo may represent all the books currently included in the program.

Back in September, Amazon gave a vague launch window for its new MatchBook program, which allows customers who bought printed books from the e-tailer over the years to now have the option of buying an e-book version of those titles at a discount. Today, MatchBook finally launched, though only with around 75,000 titles included.

Given that Amazon currently lists several million books for sale, the 75,000 number isn’t all that impressive. As GigaOm points out — and was confirmed by checking through my own MatchBook options — HarperCollins seems to be the only major publisher to be fully invested in MatchBook at this point, representing around 9,000 (12%) of the currently available MatchBook deals, while other big print-publishing players like MacMillan and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt only have a few dozen titles available.

I’ve probably purchased more than 150 books from Amazon over the last decade-plus, but only three books are currently being offered at MatchBook discounts, and all at the top MatchBook price of $2.99. The most recently published book made available to me was from mid-2011, while the others are both around 10 years old.

Thus, the emphasis currently seems to be on giving customers who may have lost or given away a previously purchased book the chance to get the e-book for relatively cheap.

Of course, not everything starts out perfectly. Anyone who remembers the early days of Netflix streaming knows what we’re talking about. So it’s possible that Amazon wanted to get this program launched now and hope it picks up steam with publishers and customers. Whether or not MatchBook is still being promoted a year from now will be a better indicator of its long-term prospects.