Barnes & Noble is Shutting Down Their MP3 Audiobook Section

3636921327_b81dd9f03b_o[1] Barnes & Noble sent an email to their customers yesterday, announcing that they will be shutting down their downloadable audiobook section at the end of the month. No explanation has been given, but customers are advised to download their audiobooks one last time and back them up.

B&N's audiobook section was supplied by OverDrive, and thanks to the DRM you'll need OD's Media Console app in order to download the files. You can find more information in the email below or in the FAQ on the B&N website.

With the AAP reporting sales up 33% in 2013, audiobooks are rapidly growing into a valuable market niche as more people discover the convenience of listening on their smartphone or mp3 player. But it looks like this is not a market where B&N is having much success.

Update: Here's B&N's official statement on the matter:

Barnes & Noble is fully committed to the physical audio book business.  We were not satisfied that the digital audio book customer experience met with our high standards, which is why we recently disabled it.  And, we have plans to provide customers with a more well integrated digital audio experience at a future date yet to be determined.  We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and ask for their patience.

B&N audiobooksI will freely admit that I didn't know that B&N sold audiobooks, and given that this section is not easy to find on the B&N website I would not be surprised if most people were similarly unaware. Unlike Amazon, which is doing their best to promote Audible, B&N has the CD and mp3 audiobook sections mixed into a single section. That is not a good way to encourage sales, IMO.

Here's the email:

Dear X,

We are writing to inform you that effective June 30, 2014, will no longer support MP3 Audiobooks.

Our records show that you previously purchased MP3 Audiobook(s) from us. If you have not already done so, we urge you to download your Audiobook(s) from by June 30, 2014. We also recommend that you save your Audiobook(s) onto your devices and back up your files on storage media.

Remember, you must install Media Console on your computer to allow you to download your MP3 Audiobooks — and it will help you easily transfer your MP3 Audiobook(s) to your NOOK and other mobile devices.

Need it? Get it for Windows or Mac.

If you have any questions, consult our Quick Guide for user-friendly answers.

image by Nina Matthews

About Nate Hoffelder (11476 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

6 Comments on Barnes & Noble is Shutting Down Their MP3 Audiobook Section

  1. Perfect time for Amazon to steal those BN customers. Audible is just so much better. You can try any book you want for free on their free trial and listening to audio books is quite convenient and addictive.

  2. I spend about eight hours a week in the car commuting. I listen exclusively to free podcasts during the commute, mostly NPR and Canadian equivalents, with a few gems like History Of Rome, Dan Carlin and Revolutions mixed in. Those last three have Audible advertising, and I’d like to try more audiobooks BUT Audible seems to be limited to monthly subscriptions, when what I want is to buy/own MP3s. as it suits my budget and speed of listening.

    Anyone know why Audible only has monthly options? Can you suggest a good buy/own/DRM-free alternative?

    • Audible isn’t limited to subscriptions.
      You can buy any single title at any time.
      They push subscriptions because the books come out cheaper if you buy more.

    • If you buy the ebook, many of them offer terrific deals on the audio book as well which automatically syncs up.

  3. Vikarti Anatra // 3 June, 2014 at 10:40 pm // Reply

    >Remember, you must install Media Console on your computer to allow you to download your MP3 Audiobooks

    So those ‘MP3’s are played only by OverDrive’s app and not any REGULAR MP3 Player like?
    Audible at least doesn’t call their audibooks something they are in fact not

  4. Remember Columbia Records? Years ago these “member” sales came into being and skinned the public out of millions. I’m old enough to remember getting skinned myself. I used you folks because I could just buy my occasional audio book and download it while I’m working out of town, etc. Your prices were fair and I could download a book after work in my hotel and use in while driving. Now there are no honest sites left. These Audible folks scare me to death. A single book is available but at a very high cost. Consent to their membership and you have minimums to buy each month and repetitive charges. I’m sick of that so I’ll just order CD’s from whoever has the best price and put them on my thumbdrive for the road. No more convenience…. Thanks guys…
    Mr. Disgusted….

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