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.
I 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:
We are writing to inform you that effective June 30, 2014, BN.com 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 BN.com 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.
If you have any questions, consult our Quick Guide for user-friendly answers.
image by Nina Matthews