Amazon is launching a new scheme which could potentially pose yet another threat to other booksellers. IPG’s Children’s Publisher of the Year award winner, Nosy Crow, posted an article on their blog today, informing people of the internet of Amazon’s latest programme: Kindle Matchbook.
The new programme will only be available for customers in the USA and will allow customers to purchase former print purchases, but in ebook form for a reduced price of $2.99, $1.99, $0.99 or for free.
Whilst this will undoubtedly be great for those avid Amazon regulars, Tom at Nosy Crow commented on the fact that ebooks will be devalued as a result and we shall return to past arguments that consumers will come to expect books (whether ‘e’ or print form) to be low in price, thus they will be less inclined to buy books at a greater price from their local bookseller on the high street. On the other hand, the question of whether customers will want to buy another copy of a book which they already have is debatable. In addition, Nosy Crow’s blog article speculates the fact that consumers will be more likely to buy print books from Amazon so they can get the ebook version at a cheaper rate (or in some cases, for free); however, surely Amazon will be selling their products at a loss rather than at a profit (which of course then makes less of a profit for publishers).
The main question is: how will this affect mortar-and-bricks booksellers (or other online retailers for that matter)?
Certainly, it is apparent that booksellers are changing the way they practice bookselling to stay in touch with its customers. And in comparison with Amazon, it is without a doubt that they offer a greater service to customers. A knowledgeable and enthusiastic sales assistant in a bookshop is by far better than a pop-up post on a website. As Nosy Crow’s post suggests: mortar-and-bricks retailers’ main products are print books, whereas retailers such as Amazon are trying to make ebooks their greatest product; therefore if booksellers were to introduce a programme or scheme equivalent to Kindle Matchbook, booksellers technically would not make a loss, as their main sellers are physical books.
Looking at the positive side, I think it can definitely be assumed that Amazon’s new venture will provide booksellers with an opportunity to develop further and therefore create an ever better experience for its customers. Yes, it is a shame that bookshops are having to drastically adapt and change to stay alive in the current industry, but publishing as a whole is not the only industry changing out there. In addition, the programme does specify that it is only available in the USA at the moment. In a way, it can be said that this gives British booksellers an advantage (and a head start)! Game on, is what I say!