For years, when I talked to "civilians" (by which I mean people who are not employed by the publishing industry, bookstores, or libraries) about e-books, they always say they'd be more likely to get into e-books if they could buy a physical book and get an e-book copy at the same time. They want to keep the physical book, but they like the idea of being able to search the e-book, and the idea of carrying one e-reader with them as they travel, rather than a huge stack of books. It didn't seem like that unreasonable a request. Comic book companies started offering digital editions with the purchase of certain issues of certain comics, but on the whole, the publishing industry never got their shit together to make this fantasy a reality.
Amazon today introduced Kindle MatchBook, a new benefit that gives customers the option to buy—for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free—the Kindle edition of print books they have purchased new from Amazon. Print purchases all the way back to 1995—when Amazon first opened its online bookstore—will qualify once a publisher enrolls a title in Kindle MatchBook.
This is a great idea, and the publishers should have done it first. But now it's too late. With this program, I think Amazon just convinced a whole subset of wary consumers to jump on the e-book train. But can I just say that I find this whole books/fire system that Amazon has for naming new products—Kindle, Fire, MatchBook—more than a little disturbing? What's with all the book-burning imagery?