audio books — some great developments

Hey everyone –

Thanks for sharing info. I thought you might like to know a bit about developments in the audio book realm.

Apparently Audible.com does not have enough audio books to meet market demand, especially in the most popular categories such as science fiction. So Audible is now buying rights directly from bestselling authors and going into recording themselves — something they’ve never done before. This seems to put Audible into direct competition with mainstream publishers who want to lock up those same audio rights and then do the recordings themselves.

In case you are wondering who Audible is: Audible is the leading distributor/retailer of downloadable audiobooks, and has an exclusive arrangement to be supplier of audiobooks for iTunes. [Some use the term 'digital content aggregator' to describe how publishers need to go through a company such as Audible to get their content listed on iTunes who doesn't really want to deal directly with thousands of content 'originators'.] Last month, Audible was bought by Amazon.com, so I doubt their exclusivity at iTunes will last.

Here’s an interesting combination: Amazon last year bought CreateSpace.com which specializes in manufacturing CDs and DVDs on demand for music and for audiobooks. (CreateSpace and BookSurge are both offering POD book production services with BookSurge charging high set-up fees and CreateSpace pitching to the “free” market.)

So… if you are an indie author and/or indie publisher and have some free time and wish to dabble in creating audio editions, you can feel confident that this market is definitely growing, and you will have some distribution routes.
Think of it like this:
1. record chapters as podcast episodes
2. make them available on www.podiobooks.com for publicity (and donations)
3. assemble all the episodes into a full audiobook edition
4. sell the audiobook as a burned-on-demand CD set or DVDs through Lulu.com
5. sell the audiobook as a burned-on-demand CD set or DVDs through Amazon.com [using CreateSpace]
6. sell the audiobook as a digital download through Amazon [this channel will open soon, I predict] for listening on Kindle and other MP3 players
7. sell the audiobook as a digital download through iTunes [as soon as Audible's exclusivity is broken] for listening on iPods, iPhones and other MP3 devices …

The royalty on the sale of a downloadable audiobook through Audible is terrible at the moment (less than 10%), and Audible only wants to deal with a publisher who has at least 5 audio books, so this can only improve once Audible’s iTunes near-monopoly is broken. It would be reasonable for iTunes & Amazon royalties to be in the range of 50% to 70% for the creator, in my humble opinion — as it already is at Lulu.com.

One Response to “audio books — some great developments”

  1. Personally, I prefer audio books to the conventional printed books, it’s just so much more convenient to listen to a book and have the eyes to do soemthing else. … and when driving it’s defintively safer too ;-). Since I’ve discovered audio books, I have increased my ‘book consumption’ – can’t really talk about my reading – considerably. Also to have such a large choice that is grwoing every day makes listening to audiobooks fun.

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