The two-month-old reports that Amazon is going to launch an unlimited audiobook service in Germany are still nothing more than rumors, but the service which launched in Japan earlier this month is considerably more real.
Last week Amazon launched an unlimited audiobook service in Japan which (for want of a better name) I am going to call Audible Unlimited. The new service boasts a catalog of approximately 2,000 titles (according to press reports; Amazon says 8,000).
According to one report Amazon plans to expand the catalog to 10,000 titles by the end of the year. In comparison, Audible.com has a catalog of over 150,000 titles for sale. (Amazon bought Audible in 2008 for $300 million.)
Audible Unlimited is not to be confused with Audible's existing subscription service, which is available in the US, UK, Germany, France, and other markets. That service more closely resembles a "book of the month club" where subscribers pay for one, two, or three audiobooks each month. The new Audible Unlimited service is closer to streaming services like Spotify, where subscribers are paying for access and not buying the content.
Amazon's Japanese customers can now subscribe for 1,500 yen (~$12.20) per month and listen to as many audiobooks as they like on Audible's apps for Android and iOS. Amazon is pitching this service as a great feature for smartphones rather than pushing the service on its own Fire tablets.
For that, listeners would have to go to Amazon's competitor, FeBe.jp. This service boasts a catalog of 13,000 audiobook titles, with prices ranging from 1,400 yen to 2,400 yen. FeBe is owned by Otobanku, Japan's leading audiobook distributor/publisher. Otobanku has deals with 400 Japanese publishers, and is even providing 2,000 titles to Audible's new service.
image by Michael Casey