It’s been a good week for the world of eBooks, with not just one, but two separate announcements – one from someone big, one from someone small – on new ways we’ll soon have to get these things on our devices.
Amazon’s MatchBook service, launching next month, is just the sort of thing I’ve been waiting for – buy a physical copy of the book, and get the digital one for free. Sensible enough, right? Well, actually, it’s buy the book in print and get the eBook for $2.99 or less, but I’m optimistic that publishers will eventually gravitate toward electing the free option. The film industry has done this with movies for a while now (DVDs and Blu-rays all seem to come with free digital downloads these days), and Amazon itself gives away free MP3s with CD purchases. It seems a little odd that books – far more basic than these other media types – are once again last to the party (and not even fully committed to complimentary yet), but as they say, it’s better late than never.
Naturally, the service is limited to Kindle eBooks, but Kindle applications are ubiquitous, and Amazon does have the largest library. Plus, as is the norm with the industry, B&N and others will likely soon enough follow suit. So I’d call it a good thing all around, and a smart move on Amazon’s part that will simultaneously support both print and digital media, keeping readers and publishers happy. I was even excited about the prospect of The Amber Ring being be a free download with the purchase of its paperback, until I quickly remembered that the Kindle version is free anyway… (>^-‘)>
Oyster – a much-anticipated “Netflix for books”, as it were – made its initial launch yesterday as an invite-only iPhone application, with open enrollment and support for other devices to come over time. For $9.95 a month, Oyster offers unlimited reading of any and all books in its library (100,000 and growing). HarperCollins is the only big house they’ve got on board to start with, but if they can secure one, and the service takes off, it’s not too hard to imagine that they will score others. For the meantime, it looks like they’re also happy to work with smaller presses and independent authors.
Again, with services like Netflix and Spotify having existed for years, it’s strange to think that it’s taken this long for anyone to adopt such a model with books, but here’s to hoping that it does as well as its counterparts!