Long Overdue: Amazon MatchBook and What It Means For Me


(Announcement buried below)

If someone from Del Rey/Random House is reading this, please feel free to put my books into Amazon’s MatchBook program.

If you haven’t heard of this new program, it works like this: For publishers who sign on to the program, readers who buy (or have bought) a physical book from Amazon.com will have the opportunity to also buy the ebook edition at a discounted price. Some books will be as low as $2.99, some will be free.

So, if you bought CHILD OF FIRE when it came out in 2009, you could (if Del Rey signs the contract) pick up an ebook copy for cheap.

I’ve already seen some authors speaking against this deal. They don’t like the bundling and they earn part of their living from people who buy replacement copies for books that wear out.

Another strike against is the fact that I could buy a copy of a book, give it to my buddy Jim as a gift, then pick up a cheap/free version for myself.

Yeah, what Amazon is doing is selling the content, but what the have the right to sell is the copy. The whole point of copyright is that I make copies of my IP and sell them to people who want to buy them; if I’m selling the right for another person to make more copies, that person is a publisher and we need to have a publishing deal.

Except that model has been under serious strain for a long time. It’s now trivially easy to make copies of other people’s work, and some people can be amazingly clueless about it:

“Help me download a copy of your book without paying you!” I mean, Jesus.

But these are just bumps in the road. I think that selling the content over the copy is the way of the future and I’m surprised it took so long for a program like MatchBook to get started. Yes, the readers who want an author to fix their torrents are annoying. Yeah, getting a free copy of a book you intend to give away is a pretty nice deal.

It’s good promotion, though. There are a handful of books out there that won’t need it, but most do. I don’t blame any author for shying away from this deal, but I think that, overall, it will be a good thing for those who sign up.

I also strongly suspect that this is part of a plan to drive self-publishers to CreateSpace, which they should have been doing anyway.

What’s that? you say. How can you talk about using CreateSpace when TWENTY PALACES is still ebook only?

Well, here’s the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Lately, with the help of a saint of a human being, I’ve been working on creating a paper edition of TWENTY PALACES. If you’ve never read it because (like me) you don’t read ebooks, you will soon get a chance. Also: to buy a copy for your friends. Also: to buy a copy for your friends and get a discounted ebook for yourself.

The book won’t be available for some weeks yet; there’s still a lot to do. Frankly, one of the reasons I’m prepping this is to buffer the budget for my upcoming Kickstarter on The Great Way (I wrote a status post about that over the weekend). The other is so we’ll get to have Christmas this year. Yeah, it’s getting to be like that.

But… MatchBook: I’m surprised it took this long and while I expect there to be bumps, this should be a great thing.