If you bought a real live dead-tree book from Amazon anytime between 1995 and now, you may be able to buy its e-book version for $2.99 — or less — with an upcoming program called Kindle MatchBook.
Unlike the Kindle Lending Library, any book you buy through the MatchBook program will be part of your Kindle library, and readable on all devices that run the Kindle apps, not just on Kindle devices. In addition to the $2.99 price point, Amazon says that some MatchBook titles will be priced at $1.99 or $.99, and some will even be free.
The catch is that the publisher of the paper books has to agree to participate. Amazon says over 10,000 books are already in the program, including John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany" and "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" by Neil Gaiman. Great reads, for sure, but nowhere close to the flaming-hot J.K. Rowling/Stephanie Meyer/Suzanne Collins triangle.
Will many publishers of your favorite contemporary authors consent to offering Kindle MatchBook pricing? Hard to say at this point, though perhaps there's an incentive for those publishers to charge you a few bucks more for books you want to digitize. "This is an easy choice for publishers and authors who will now be able to earn more from each book they publish," Amazon's VP of Kindle Content, Russ Grandinetti, is quoted in the press release as saying. (This may indicate that the free digital edition option will be pretty scarce.)
At least there'll be an easy way to find out if your Amazon book purchases are on the list. Once the service launches in October, you'll be able to look up your entire print book order history, and see which ones qualify for MatchBook.