Politics 3 September 2013 Amazon offers free ebooks to owners of print books Keeping up the fire metaphors, the programme is called "MatchBook". Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML Amazon has announced a new programme offering free and cut-price eBooks to people who have previously purchased print editions from the site. In keeping with the company's literally inflammatory naming convention for their eBook brand, the program will be called "Kindle Matchbook". The company's announcement reads: For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases will soon allow you to buy the Kindle edition for $2.99, $1.99, $0.99, or free… going all the way back to 1995 when Amazon first opened its online bookstore. It is not yet clear whether or when the company will roll out the programme to countries outside the US, but it assuming it can get publishers elsewhere on board, it can only be a matter of time. And as TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington writes: Amazon is pushing this not only as a great value-add service for users… but also as a way for publishers to get renewed revenue out of a previous sale – making it possible for someone who bought a book up to 8 years ago over again, who might otherwise have been happy to settle for just owning the paper copy could be a source of considerable additional windfall revenue for bookmakers. In that reading of the service, it occupies a similar niche in the book ecosystem as iTunes Match does for music, encouraging publishers to lift restrictions they would never contemplate in return for an entirely new revenue source. But it's also a good partner to Amazon's Kindle service overall. One of the stumbling blocks of eBooks has always been that a major potential benefit – not having to store hundreds of books all around your home – takes years to accrue. Even if you go all-digital from the moment you purchase an ereader, there are still all the books you've already bought lying around. Amazon's pitch is that you can use your "Matchbook" to get rid of all of those in one fell swoop. (If the book-burning metaphors make you feel uncomfortable, just imagine what they do to publishers.) Of course, at another level, it falls into that increasingly full category of "Amazon loss leaders", just like the Kindles themselves do. Amazon's quest to become the biggest company in the world which doesn't make a profit continues. › Watch: Terry Pratchett, A S Byatt and Terry Eagleton on fantasy, fiction and desire Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles Jeremy Corbyn has found a vulnerable spot on Theresa May and trade Politicians are worried that their pensions are destroying the planet. Is yours? Nap Store: Where did all these new mattress start-ups come from?