Amazon has updated its flagship ereader and launched a service called MatchBook which promises a digital copy of printed books bought on Amazon.

Amazon MatchBook Service Launched
Amazon\'s MatchBook service promises a digital copy of books purchased on Amazon for free or a discounted price - including books bought as far back as 1995.

Amazon announced this week a service called MatchBook which offers those purchasing a printed book the chance of getting a digital copy for free or at a discounted price.

The MatchBook service will launch in the US in October but an Amazon spokesperson told IBTimes UK that at the moment there were no plans to bring the service to the UK.

The scheme will apply retrospectively to printed books bought through Amazon since it opened it online doors in 1995. At the moment over 10,000 books are included in the scheme with Amazon calling on all other authors to sign up.

Some digital versions of printed books will be free, while others will cost $2.99, $1.99 or $0.99.

"If you logged onto your CompuServe account during the Clinton administration and bought a book like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus from Amazon, Kindle MatchBook now makes it possible for that purchase-18 years later-to be added to your Kindle library at a very low cost," said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content.

Earn more

"In addition to being a great new benefit for customers, this is an easy choice for publishers and authors who will now be able to earn more from each book they publish," Grandinetti added.

The service is reminiscent of similar services for music collections from the likes of Apple, Google and Amazon itself. While it has been widely welcomed, some questioned how much customers actually wanted this service.

"I'm sceptical about whether the reader actually wants it," Philip Jones, editor of the Bookseller magazine told the BBC. "As far as I can tell most people read in one format, so they choose print or they choose digital and it's quite rare that they read both."

However Jones could see it working in some situations: "I can see there would be advantages for students or for people who have particularly weighty hardbacks that they'd like to read in print form at home and then as an e-book on the road."

New Kindle Paperwhite Launched

New Kindle Paperwhite Ereader Launched
Amazon\'s has updated its best-selling Kindle Paperwhite ereader with a higher resolution screen, better light and faster processor. (Amazon)

Amazon has announced the latest update to its market-leading Kindle Paperwhite and while it may not redefine the ereader market, it aims at keeping Amazon on top of the pile with a higher resolution screen, better in-built light and faster processor.

This sixth generation of Kindle ereader is likely to continue to see Amazon remain ahead of competition such as Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Amazon says the new screen on the Paperwhite makes it almost indistinguishable from the printed page while the new processor will make opening books and page transitions 25% faster.

Amazon has also included a number of new software features, such as Kindle Page Flip which makes it easier to scan back and forward through the book you're reading. Vocabulary Builder is aimed at improving your knowledge of the language, creating a database of the words you look up on your Kindle to help you retain the new information.

Death of the ereader

While new and innovative features will almost certainly ensure the Kindle Paperwhite remains at the top of the market, the death of the ereader has been heralded widely as consumers want to carry a single device such as an iPad or Android tablets like the Nexus 7 or Amazon's own Kindle Fire.

In December of last year, research firm IHS iSuppli concluded the death of the ereader was imminent: "Current forecasts show the ebook reader market as having already reached its peak of just over 20 million units shipping in 2011, with a decline to barely 7 million in the 2015-2016 timeframe."

Amazon founder, and recent new owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos is slightly more upbeat however, saying:

"Kindle is the best-selling e-reader family in the world for six years running. No one is investing on behalf of readers or pushing the boundaries of hardware, software and content for readers like this team."