Kindle Matchbook: Why Was It Retired

Kindle Matchbook was a program Amazon launched back in 2013.

With this program, authors and publishers were able to create bundles of e-books and print books sold by Amazon. E-book could either be given away as freebies, or they could be sold at $0.99 or $1.99.

Now, you might be wondering why you never heard of Kindle Matchbook.

The reality is, aside from an initial backlash from the publishing industry, at the time concerned about the impact of e-books on their bottom line, the program garnered very little media coverage.

The bulk of authors were unaware the program existed. Authors with books in the program didn’t report a great deal of interest from readers.

What Was Matchbook?

The premise of Kindle Matchbook was simple. Authors could give away Kindle editions of their work, or offer substantial reductions on the price of the e-book for those who bought physical copies.

The offer was not available with all purchases. Only certain authors and publishers elected to take part. As the program was so poorly publicized, this by no means included all the big names.

Matchbook also worked retroactively. Some customers qualified for discounts on purchases made as far back as 1999. This was easily searchable on the site.

Once you had purchased the e-book or taken advantage of a free e-book, the title was tied to your Amazon account and available across all your devices.

Sounds good, right?

Why did this program not take off, then?

What Was The Problem with Matchbook?

The core issue with Matchbook was the deficiency of the catalog.

At the time of launch, Amazon claimed to have 74,000 titles available. Shelfie, by contrast, offered 400,000 titles.

So, not only was Amazon not delivering anywhere near the amount of titles of its closest competitor, that number represented less than 2% of the total titles Amazon was offering at the time.

Beyond the lack of titles, the quality of the imprints also plagued Kindle Matchbook. Selected titles were available from major houses like Macmillan and HarperCollins. On the whole, though, titles were published by Amazon’s own imprints. Titles from indie publishers and out-of-copyright work also prevailed. In sum, the bar was not set high when it came to the quality of titles.

The program received absolutely no promotion from Amazon, and there was no meaningful way to search for eligible titles.

Amazon didn’t give a reason for retiring Kindle Matchbook, but it’s clear that people were not using it, unsurprising given the almost clandestine nature of the program.

Final Thoughts

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