Kindle Matchbook Questions and Answers
Posted On: 2013-09-12
by: James J. Jones and Ashley Zee

12, 2013
There are many mysteries that surround Kindle's recently announced Matchbook program. While we won't 100% definitively know all the answers until it is unveiled in October, we do have some information and educated estimations of what we can expect. In this interview, Ashley Zee asks James J. Jones some questions that people are asking about Kindle Matchbook.

Ashley: What is the single biggest advantage to enrolling in Kindle Matchbook?

James: Well from a publisher's point of view, the best-, the biggest advantage is that you will immediately have an advantage over anyone who doesn't-, who isn't enrolled in Kindle Matchbook, because your books will show the new pricing, which is the discounted pricing for the e-book version. People will immediately recognize that when they buy your print version, they're going to get a discount or even get your e-book for free. It gives you a competitive advantage.

Ashley: Some people have expressed concerns that Matchbook undervalues e-books price, and more importantly, perceived values. What are your thoughts about this?

James: Well I think this program is definitely going to lower, it's going to push down the price of e-books, but it's going to raise the sales of the paperback version. And since you generally are going to make more on the paperback version anyway, all in all it's going to be a good thing. But I think you're right, I think it's going to definitely kind of downgrade the value of the e-book.

Ashley: Amazon is not very clear about this, but do you have to use CreateSpace to enroll in Kindle Matchbook?

James: The way I read their announcement is no. They want you to use Createspace, so they're pointing you to Createspace. However according to Amazon's own press release, any book, any paperback book on Amazon is eligible for this as long as there's a Kindle book also available with the same title. So therefore, you could use Smashwords if you wanted to instead of Createspace.

Ashley: Correct me if I'm wrong, but if I understand this correctly, when you buy a hard, tangible book, paperback or hardcover book that's enrolled in the Matchbook program, you're then offered the e-book at a discounted price -or even for free - depending on what the publisher sets it at.

James: Yes.

Ashley: Does this process work in the reverse. If you purchase an e-book can you get a discount on the hard copy version of that book if that particular book is in the Matchbook program?

James: No, you can't. It only goes one way.

Ashley: It's September and the end of the year is coming up. With the holiday season approaching, how important is it to have an established Matchbook presence?

James: I think it's very important, and the Matchbook program is going to start sometime in October, I'm thinking probably about mid-October. So right now is the time to start working on those paperback books if you don't already have the paperback versions of your e-books. During the holidays lots of people by tangible books for gifts - I think people like the experience of opening the book, and people like giving books. That's one way to market your book on Kindle Matchbook. "Buy the paperback as a gift, and keep the eBook for yourself!"

Ashley: I'm glad you brought that up because this segues into the next question. If someone buys the paperback and gets the e-book at a promotional price or or maybe even for free, what happens if they decide to return the paperback to Amazon? Do they get to keep the e-book at that promotional price, or if they got it for free, do they get to keep the eBook for free?

James: I'm sure Amazon has thought of this. They haven't announced exactly how that's going to work. But Amazon can cut off the e-book version or the Kindle version of the book. So I would imagine if you return the paperback version, you're going to find when you open your Kindle or your Kindle app, it's not going to be there anymore. I'm betting that they will probably just delete it off of your Kindle.

Ashley: There's nothing in the terms of service yet that says it's wrong for you to sell the hardcover book, right?

James: Right, I haven't seen anything about that.

Ashley: Nothing about reselling...

James: I can see where you're going. You could actually buy the book, buy the paperback version, get the Kindle version for a discount or free, and then sell the paperback version and still have that information or that book.

Ashley: Precisely. So there's nothing in the terms of service yet about that?

James: Nope.

Ashley: All right, and then since CreateSpace seems to be favored for this whole Kindle Matchbook process, I was wondering if you could speak a little bit about the cost to do print on demand books, on CreateSpace, and how this might affect Matchbook price setting.

James: There's a CreateSpace calculator you can use to figure out your costs. Doing a full color book costs more than a black-white version. But the way CreateSpace works is that you don't pay upfront for your books. You only pay when you sell one.

So let's say you're selling a book for $12.99. If it's a full color book with 24 pages, then your royalty is going to be $4.14. So percentage wise, it's less than what your e-books are on Kindle. But you're not going to be able to sell an e-book for $12.99 generally. You're not going to be able to sell an e-book for $9.99. Most of the time, your e-books are less than $5.00.

Royalty wise, percentage wise, you might be making less. But actual money wise, royalty wise, you're making more. So let me just go through a couple of scenarios here. Say a full color, 24 page book at $12.99, you're going to make $4.14. If it's black and white, you'll make $5.64. So the colored version is going to cost you about $1.50 in royalty fees or in-, $1.50 less royalty.

I'm using 24 pages as a model because 24 is the minimum number of pages you can have for a Createspace book. So let's say that it's $9.99, which is a pretty popular price for a paperback book. Black and white, you'll make $3.84. And in color, you'll make $2.34. So overall, you're making more money, it's just a percentage of price, it's going to be less.

Ashley: Obviously it's a case by case basis, but off the top of your head, would you recommend then even putting a price on the e-book upgrade in Kindle Matchbook if we were going with those prices? Or would you just offer the eBook for free if they buy the paperback?

James: It depends on what you have out there right now. You've got a ton of books out there. Let's say you got hundreds of books. And you got the paperback version and the Kindle version. So as soon as this program kicks in, if you set a price of, you know, say you reduce all your Kindle books down to $0.99. As soon as this program kicks in, you might get a big rush of sales just because people are going out there and buying it because it's new.

And because your Kindle book is priced at $0.99 versus $2.99, then they're going to see that as being attractive and purchase that along with the paperback. That might happen. I'm not sure. But you'd have to have a lot of books out there to take advantage of that. Otherwise though, I think I would just price them all at nothing, just make them free. Make them very attractive.

I know some people have asked about our Kindle game books and how it would work on CreateSpace; I'd like to take this moment to address it. Well, back in the '80s we had these things called create your own adventure book. When you got to a "branch" in the book, you would have the option to go to page 7, or go to page 10, or go to page 54, depending on which option the reader chose. You could do the same thing with a game book.

For instance, let's say you have an "Identify This Cat" gamebook. You can have one page with a picture of cat and ask, "Is this a Siamese Cat? If yes go to page 13" with another option beneath that which says "Is this a Persian Cat? If yes, go to page 54". The reader would then turn the page to wherever you told them to go; it's the exact same process as the eBook game book, just now the reader has to manually turn the pages.

Ashley: All right, thank you everyone for your questions. Thanks James.

James: Okay, thank you, bye.

Until next time...
James J. Jones and Ashley Zee