Amazon MatchBook offers cheap e-books to print buyers, new Kindle Paperwhites launch

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Amazon has rolled out a new program that will allow customers to buy low-cost digital copies of the books they already physically own, while at the same time the retail giant is refreshing its line of dedicated Kindle e-readers with new devices that get up to two months on a single charge.

The new MatchBook program will allow Amazon customers to purchase the Kindle edition of print books they have already purchased from Amazon and in the process pay only a fraction of what the Kindle edition would have cost them. Over 10,000 titles will be available when the program launches in October, with prices ranging from free to $3.

Amazon's offer will cover titles purchased on its site all the way back to 1995, when Amazon first opened its online bookstore.

"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,” said Russ Grandinetti, vice president of Kindle Content.

By visiting Amazon's site for MatchBook, customers can look up the entirety of their previous physical book orders from Amazon. From there, they can see which titles are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook.

The program will launch with titles from Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton, Blake Crouch, James Rollins, Jodi Picoult, Neil Gaiman, Marcus Sakey, Wally Lamb, Jo Nesbo, Neal Stephenson, and J.A. Jance, as well as all of Amazon Publishing's titles. In order to take part in the program, publishers must coordinate with Amazon to get their books listed in MatchBook.

Amazon also announced a new version of its dedicated e-reader, the its predecessor. It also is said to have an improved display with higher contrast and a longer lasting battery. Amazon says that the new dedicated e-reader can get up to two months of use on a single charge.

In addition to those features, Amazon has built social integration into the device, with users now able to get book recommendations from likeminded readers via Goodreads, a service Amazon purchased in March of this year. Amazon also introduced Kindle Page Flip, which keeps a user's place in a book even if they scan ahead in the text. Another added feature is the Vocabulary Builder, which creates flashcards based on previous words a user has looked up.

As with previous models, Amazon is offering the device with three pricing options. Customers can get the Kindle Paperwhite for as low as $119, though customers taking that option will find their lock screens occasionally populated by advertisements. There is also a $139 option, which will have no ads. In November, Amazon will roll out a 3G-connected Paperwhite model as well. The two non-cellular models will ship on the 30th of September. All three models are available for preorder on Amazon's site.

Amazon revealed the new device with little fanfare, prompting some to question what else the online retail giant has prepared for release this year. The last two years have seen Amazon showing off new versions of its Kindle Fire tablet devices, and this year is expected to be no different. Amazon is also rumored to be working on its own smartphone devices, though that rumor lost some steam after no such product was revealed last year.


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