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Amazon Now Going After Audiobook Authors

Amazon made a move today which shows that they’re nit just trying to cut publishers out of the ebook market; they’re horning in on the audiobook market as well.

They’ve just announced a new $20 million fund for authors. They’re calling it Audible Author Services, and authors who sign up will get a buck for each copy of an audiobook sold via Audible. Clever, no?

The program is going to formally launch on Sunday, and it really is that simple.  Authors don’t have to do anything other than sign up, and what’s more, Amazon says that they don’t have to share their earnings from the program.

I wonder why Amazon is doing it? I confess to not knowing much about audiobooks, but I would guess that Amazon has noticed how the market is growing and wants to give it a push.

Downloadable audiobooks is the one category besides ebooks that has grown over the past couple years. While I don’t have current stats in front of me, the monthly AAP reports have consistently shown a solid increase each month. In January 2012, for example, the AAP reported $8.4 million for the category, up 30% from $6.5 million in January 2011.

And while it’s obvious Amazon wants to bypass the publishers, I suspect that they are also working to build the social aspects as well. Authors can be their own best salesmen, but first they have to be interested in doing it and I’m not sure that was happening before. While I can easily recall authors pushing their latest ebook, I don’t know the last time one pushing the audiobook at the same time.

And yes, I do think the long term goal is to bypass publishers. Amazon wants authors to sign in with their existing Amazon accounts, you know, the ones they use to submit their ebooks to KDP. This is going to let Amazon connect 2 possibly unrelated details about each author.

Also, this new program is being administered via Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), Audible’s new self-pub platform for audiobooks. There are even a few subtle hints that authors might want to check the ACX help pages for tips on promoting their work. Clearly Amazon is looking to build a direct relationship.

All in all, publishers are going to hate this.


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karen wester newton April 13, 2012 um 11:46 am

Well, since Amazon owns Audible, I expect they want to grow that part of the business. But making a decent audio book is expensive, so I expect this is aimed mostly at authors who already have a following.

George April 13, 2012 um 12:53 pm

I can just imagine Jeff Bezos sitting in his underground lair, stroking his white Persian cat, saying, "No, Mr. Big 6 Publishers, I expect you to die!" Followed by villainous laughter.

SteveH April 13, 2012 um 3:11 pm

Authors do need to do something besides just signing up, their book needs to have an audio version and that takes time and money to produce (unless you royalty split with an audio production provider).
I looked into the well organized site and did discover something I did not know before, they set the pricing for your audio book based on length of recording time. However they do have a very lucrative sliding royalty scale of 50-90% of sales, and other sweeteners like their $25 new Audible user-purchase bounty!

Nate Hoffelder April 13, 2012 um 8:02 pm

I thought my post said that, but I see I wasn’t clear enough. Thanks.

Audiobook Blog – Audiobooker, by Mary Burkey – Booklist Online » Blog Archive » Amazon Now Going After Audiobook Authors April 14, 2012 um 6:58 pm

[…] says Nate Hoffelder’s post on The Digital Reader, with some serious food for thought. Here’s a quote: Amazon made a move today which shows […]

Joe Melnick July 6, 2012 um 2:09 pm

Why do you say that it would be expensive to record an audiobook? Every laptop and computer is capable of recording studio-quality audio without expensive equipment. A $75 mic and the free Audacity program should just about do it, I think.

I’ve listened to several audiobooks and the last thought I’d have had was 'wow, that must have cost a lot to record'.

Nate Hoffelder July 7, 2012 um 4:16 pm

Yes, but how good would the audio quality be?

I’ll admit that I don’t have any direct experience, but I was guessing that producing your own audiobook would be like producing your own ebook. The costs of getting professional quality work add up faster than you realize.

fjtorres July 8, 2012 um 8:19 am

Renting a recording studio isn’t terribly expensive.
A professional voice-over facility can be rented for around $50 an hour so a typical novel would run $1000 or so.
The real challenge is finding the reader to record; pros aren’t cheap. Might need to exploit a relative there. But that’s what relatives are for, anyway. 😉

Y.I.Lee May 7, 2013 um 4:23 pm

Unfortunately, for those of us living in the UK, making an audio at the moment is not an option. As the only company doing it and affiliated to Amazon, don’t as yet take UK authors. So we would be forced to make and sell our audio books privately.

Amazon Now Going After Audiobook Authors : The Booklist Reader November 5, 2014 um 3:30 pm

[…] says Nate Hoffelder’s post on The Digital Reader, with some serious food for thought. Here’s a […]

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