Amazon announces Kindle Matchbook, upgrades Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite reading achievements

Check out our review of the upgraded Kindle Paperwhite eReader.

Announced on Amazon yesterday, the online retailer is launching a new program that allows customers to purchase the Kindle version of a book for an inexpensive price assuming the customer has purchased a physical copy of the book first. Called Kindle Matchbook, the digital Kindle versions of purchased books could be completely free or priced between $0.99 to $2.99. Somewhat similar to the movie industry’s attempt to package a digital copy of a film with a Blu-ray purchase, this is an interesting marketing tactic that allows book consumers to transition to a Kindle and replace their book collection with digital copies for a lower price.

When Kindle Matchbook launches during October 2013, the program will include over 10,000 titles with more to come in the future. Authors include within the starting batch of titles include Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Neil Gaiman, Jo Nesbo, Blake Crouch, James Rollins, Jodi Picoult, Marcus Sakey, Wally Lamb, Neal Stephenson, and J.A. Jance. 

Kindle Matchbook

Any physical book that’s already been purchased by a Amazon customer in the past 18 years will be offered for download at the discounted price assuming the book is included in the opening batch of titles. As an example, Amazon VP of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti said “If you logged onto your CompuServe account during the Clinton administration and bought a book like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus from Amazon, Kindle MatchBook now makes it possible for that purchase—18 years later—to be added to your Kindle library at a very low cost.”

However, only new books that were purchased from Amazon will qualify for the program. New books purchased through a third party vendor or used books purchased through Amazon resellers will not qualify for Kindle Matchbook.

In addition to Kindle Matchbook, Amazon is rolling out a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite at the end of the month. Launching on September 30, the new Kindle Paperwhite will include a processor that’s 25 percent faster than the previous model, a higher contrast display, a more responsive touch panel for interacting with books and a new version of the built-in light that’s designed to reduce eye strain. Ideally, the new processor should help books launch faster and decrease page load time. 

Kindle Paperwhite reading achievements

Regarding software, Amazon will include a higher level of parental controls in the form of Kindle FreeTime. Parents will be able to setup user accounts on the Kindle Paperwhite as well as individual reading goals for their children. Amazon is also attempting to make reading more entertaining by allowing children to earn achievement badges for reading consistently or reading lots of books. Parents will have access to data such as time spent reading, number of words looked up and total books read.

In addition, Amazon has integrated Goodreads into the Kindle Paperwhite as well as a new vocabulary builder, smart look-up tool and in-line footnotes. It’s extremely likely that these upgrades will also be included in future versions of the Kindle Fire tablets when those tablets are announced later this month. Similar to previous Kindle models, there’s a version of the Kindle Paperwhite with advertisements for $119 and a version without the special offers priced at $139.

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