DISCUSSION: AutoRip for Books? (Automatic Digital Download)

As a reminder, this is a feature that I’m starting (hopefully once a week or so). I’ve done some research on a topic that I now present to you. Then I have a few questions at the bottom. Feel free to discuss, but remember to always be kind in your comments.

Amazon-AutoRipIn 2013, Amazon introduced two new features. One was called AutoRip where you could download the MP3 version of qualifying CDs for free (as long as you had purchased the original CD from Amazon). What a great feature! Now you can have the physical CD but also download the music right away. So convenient! It kind of makes sense, right? You already bought the music so why not be able to download for free? You already paid for it!

The second feature that Amazon introduced in 2013 was Kindle Matchbook. For any qualifying physical book that you have purchased from Amazon since 1995, you can purchase a digital copy of it for $2.99 or less. Seems like kind of the same idea, right? You’ll probably end up having to pay a little bit, but $2.99 isn’t bad.

These features got me thinking about why other bookstores (let’s say…Barnes and Noble) don’t do something like this? Technically, it would cost very little to supply free eBooks to those who have purchased physical copies in-store or online. I doubt that they would lose much revenue from their eBook sales (how many people buy the physical book and then go pay for the eBook as well?) I propose that it would only help their profits by creating an incentive for people to shop at their store as opposed to alternatives. I’ve had the dilemma of, “I’d like to have a physical copy of this book…but I’d also like to have the convenience of having it on my Kindle…but I only have enough money to do one of those things.”

Now, I could see people wondering about the flip-side of the argument, “If I buy an eBook shouldn’t they supply me a physical copy?” My answer to this is…no, I don’t think so. This is because it would actually cost companies money to do that. Electronic forms of media are free to reproduce and would not cut into profit margins while supplying eBook customers with physical copies would (it’s just not practical). In addition, when you buy a physical book, you buy more than just the words on the page. You buy the book cover, the pages, the feel of a book in your hands. When you buy an eBook, you’re just buying the words (words that you already have when you’ve purchased the physical copy). So supplying an eBook to people who have purchased physical copies (in my mind) is supplying them with something that they already have. Whereas the other way, the customer would be receiving something extra.

Here are my questions for you: Should bookstores supply customers with a free copy of the eBook when a physical copy is purchased? Or do you think people should have to pay a little bit like with Amazon’s Kindle Matchbook program? Would this be a feature that you would utilize?

Sources:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/digital/ep-landing-page?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0
http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/03/amazon-now-offering-users-discounted-or-free-digital-versions-of-print-books-bought-through-its-site/

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12 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: AutoRip for Books? (Automatic Digital Download)

  1. I think the program would be useful if you still want the physical copy but particularly if it is a large book, you don’t want to carry it around. But I do agree that when you’re buying an ebook you are just paying for the words which you already have in the physical copy. Publishers could do it but the question is will they and the answer is no. It has nothing do with the cost of production because to make an ebook really doesn’t cost the much. It’s the license your really paying for and copyright infringement is one of the things publishers fear. Also, like you said it would affect their profit margins. So overall, it would be useful for the consumer to have both the physical and digital copy, just don’t think publishers would be completely on board.

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  2. I am really big on ebooks, I have a huge library of ebooks that I have acquired over the years. My collection of ebooks has grown strictly due to the convenience of being able to have so many books easily in reach on my tablet, which is about the size of a paperback (8in screen). I am still a huge fan of physical editions, but just don’t have enough shelving space or storage for them sadly in my current living situation. I love the idea of this program, purchase a physical copy but also receive a convenient ebook edition as well for a drastically reduced price. It is the best of both worlds! I agree that purchase of the ebook doesn’t equate to purchase of a physical edition because as has been stated, much more goes into the creation of a physical edition as compared to the generation of an ebook. At this point it just makes sense to purchase the physical edition of a book with the ebook edition added on. I think this is a really smart move by Amazon and has a great deal of future potential earnings.

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      1. I think that Amazon’s strongest quality has always been their innovation and willingness to try new things, not just items but also new strategies as well. I am curious to see what their sales will look like at the end of the year, or the end of their fiscal one, and if they will do a break down of how many people took advantage of this program and how much money they generated from it. If it was significant, I wonder if any other book sellers will look into adapting the model for themselves. Perhaps Amazon will also add in audio books via Audible as well, if they don’t already (I admit I haven’t looked whether or not they do or if it is just book and ebook – could easily do all 3). Barnes & Nobles definitely sticks out in my mind as someone who would benefit greatly from it due to their store, Nook ebooks, plus they have Nook Audio Books. They are likely the strongest contender for market share against Amazon.

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      2. That’s kind of what I was thinking as well. I think the program is working well enough for Amazon…as it started a couple of years ago and it’s still in effect (unless that’s not enough time to really tell? I’m not sure). I know Amazon offers audiobooks through Audible, but I’m not sure if they’re part of the Kindle Matchbook Program or not. I’ve always been impressed with Amazon and the choices that they’ve made as a company, as you said.

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      3. Based on what I have studied in my business classes as an accounting major, it would require more than 1 year’s worth of data. For this type of analysis, Amazon would be best served with at least 2 full years worth of data and 3 would be optimal. With this amount of data, Amazon can examine not just how many people are taking advantage of the program and how much money it is generating, but they can see when in their fiscal year is the program being utilized the most or even research author/genre trends under this program and look into creating further incentives.

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  3. I haven’t heard of this feature an Amazon…seems to be US only sadly. But that’s a really great idea.
    As a customer I of course would like a free e-copy for every printed book I buy. And then I’d be tempted to sell the printed copy, so that would mean quite a loss for the bookseller? Because if I buy books who have just been published and then sell them immediately for a little less then the new book price… win for me(nearly free e-book), win for the person buying the book for a little less and lose for the book seller because they sell only one copy instead of two. I think? (english is hard today, so hopefully you understand me?)
    At least I think that would/could happen with those really hyped books.

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  4. I think this is a fantastic idea, especially if it doesn’t cost companies much to give out free ebooks with the purchase of a physical book.
    I think it would really boost the audience and amount of people who buy books!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Just so you know, B&N does something similar in their stores (not online) with select books. I like the idea if it’s a matter of having the hardcover edition, but not wanting to lug it around everywhere, but I like Amazon’s “Whisper Sync” even better. Buying the audio for a few dollars as an addition to a Kindle book so that I can continue “reading” when I have to drive is an awesome idea that think every major book retailer should do.

    Liked by 1 person

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