With the Audio Publishers Association estimating that the audiobook market was worth $1.47 billion last year (and growing fast, according to independent reports), more people are using audiobooks than ever. And between the new program launched today and the recently launched Audible Unlimited service that is bound to grow.
I just got an email from Amazon with the news that Audible was launching a new program called Onebook, which will let Audible customers share their audiobook libraries with their friends.
Edit: Audible has asked me to emphasize that Onebook is invite-only at this time.
This program lets you email your recommendations to your friends. Yes, you can send an email, but you cannot send a recommendation via FB, Twitter, etc.
Readers recommend books to friends all the time on Twitter, FB, Goodreads, and other social networks, so this is rather weak tea, but Onebook does almost make up for its limitations.
The first audiobook you recommend through Onebook is gifted as a free download to recipients. You get to keep your copy of the audiobook, and you can also give it to up to ten people.
All the audiobooks recommended after that first one are sent as simple recommendations, and not free gifts. That makes them the same basic sharing trick as we already do with social media, but on the plus side the freebies and the recommendations can be sent to any email address, and not just current Audible customers.
Onebook is currently only available inside the Audible apps for Android, iPad, and iPhone, and from what I read in the email Onebook is invite-only at this time. The recommendations expire in 30 days, or sooner should the recipient choose to tell Audible that the emails are unwelcome.
You can find more details on the Audible website.
This is an interesting idea, but now that I have played with it for a while I wonder why Amazon did not go for a broader selection of sharing options. Sure, it's fun to give away that first audiobook, but I bet that listeners would also like to tweet a recommendation while they listen to an audiobook - just like we can do while reading a Kindle ebook.
There's no reason not to give us more sharing options (and every reason to do so). Perhaps the gripes about Audible's technical issues are more true than we realize.