Amazon bundles free/discounted e-books with print books

Amazon just fired off another salvo in the e-book war, one that’s going to be very difficult to return: Selected e-books are available for free or at a substantial discount if you bought the print book new from Amazon at any time, dating back to 1995.

Of course, being an e-commerce site, Amazon has the data to do that. Barnes & Noble doesn’t, necessarily. Their records of in-store purchases will be spotty, at the very least.

It’s a fair and reasonable deal for consumers, and I think it’s a good deal for authors and publishers too.

Being able to read the book electronically after buying it in print form is a convenience. Some people format-shift their books, a practice that hasn’t yet been declared legal, but given a choice between buying digital copies of the books I own for $3 apiece (or less) or sitting down to scan my books, I’d rather just pony up the dollars. After all, the scanner costs $475, then I’d have to assemble the scanner, then sit down and use it. It’s cheaper and easier to just buy the books.

I think it’s a good deal for the other side too. They get to make a little more money, and by getting a spot both on the shelf and in the e-reader, the author gets two chances to stay in the reader’s mind. The enemy of the author is obscurity. Trust me–every other author I know agrees with me on that. So the author and publisher make a few more nickels for no additional work. Everyone should be happy.

It launches in October. My pre-2003 Amazon purchases were from defunct e-mail addresses, but I’ve made plenty of purchases since then, so it will be interesting to see what turns up.

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