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Amazon Launches an Audible Unlimited Service in Japan

3462280483_3d357610d9_bThe 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, 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.

Curiously, Amazon is not selling audiobooks in Japan. Only the streaming service is mentioned on, and Audible makes it clear in its FAQ there are no options to buy the audiobooks.

For that, listeners would have to go to Amazon’s competitor, 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. via CNet Japan, Asia One (Nikkei), ITMedia

image by Michael Casey

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Chris Meadows July 26, 2015 um 11:07 am

Interesting. I imagine Amazon figures that the one-off sale niche is already filled, so it’s going to try a non-ownership option like all the streaming music services out there now. Seems weird, but who knows; maybe Amazon knows something others don’t.

Nate Hoffelder July 26, 2015 um 11:08 am

It is a little odd. I’m surprised as well.

Phronk July 26, 2015 um 1:00 pm

Any news on how authors are paid? How long before it’s a KU-style per-minute payout?

Nate Hoffelder July 26, 2015 um 1:50 pm

I don’t have any info.

Tom Semple July 27, 2015 um 9:51 pm

I would love to exchange my ('credit-based') Audible subscription for this 'unlimited' plan, as I have trouble using up my credits (opting instead for cheapo purchases). Hope they roll this out to other regions when they have learned what they need to from this experiment.

I do not think 'streaming service' is accurate in connection to this (the FAQ and instructions refer only to downloading an audiobook with the Audible app, and I saw no references to 'streaming'). I wish they’d add that option to the mobile apps, however, as audiobooks can chew up storage pretty. Audiobook streaming is now available using Echo, so at least some of the infrastructure is in place to do it.

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dipta October 3, 2018 um 9:09 pm

To be honest, I never met anyone who knows about audiobooks here in Japan, much less who is willing to pay to listen to them.
3 years later and the service still costs ?1,500 per month – as opposed to Amazon Prime which costs ?4,000 a year and gives you unlimited access to movies, dramas, music… – and with a much limited selection.
I would love to know how popular is this service.

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