I have been reporting since April of this year that Amazon is quietly working to explode the audiobook market, and today Amazon gave me more proof. They're now putting more effort into building their audiobook catalog while simultaneously working to sell more audiobooks.
The Bookseller reported yesterday that Amazon is no longer satisfied with signing book contracts with the best performing authors; they're also using Audible to pursue audiobook rights directly from authors or their agents:
Pandora White, audio publisher at Orion, said the area had become “a battleground” with “a fight all round for unabridged rights”. She said: “Audible is now approaching agents and offering a better royalty. It looks at what titles aren’t available in audio, then goes and looks to get hold of the rights itself . . . It is forcing us to change how we work. We have to emphasise the quality of our product, the fact we can link in to the publicity and marketing of the print book. It also means we’re exploiting the rights more to show agents we can, and our list is growing, which is a good thing.”
This effort has reportedly grown out of customer requests for audiobook editions for particular titles. According to Laurence Howell, director of content at Amazon-owned Audible, “Customers also drive us—if they ask us, ‘Why can’t I buy an audio version of this?’, we will go and look to see who has the rights."
Amazon has been using customer demand to drive their author and publisher recruitment efforts ever since the Kindle Store opened, so it comes as no surprise that they would expand that to include audiobook editions.
In other news, Amazon has relaunched their audiobook/ebook bundling program and expanded it with new features. They've gone beyond simply suggesting a bundle when you buy an ebook or audiobook and are now offering retroactive bundles based on ebooks you already own. The new program is called Matchmaker, and it is going to work similar to the much-maligned Matchbook program.
Matchmaker is the name given to the algorithm that is going to troll your Kindle library and look for titles that have matching audiobook titles and are compatible with Whispersync for Voice. Amazon says that you will be able to buy an audiobook and add narration to your ebook with only a single click.
They're also going to be offering limited time deals on select titles, drawing from a catalog of 30,000 compatible titles.
I wonder if they'll be basing the deals on the audiobook best seller list they launched in May? It would make sense, I think, to offer deals on the most popular titles.
image by Paul A Hernandez