Audiobookers, Take Note: Downpour Launches Audiobook Rentals
Amazon’s Audible might dominate the audiobook market in the US but they’re not the only retailer. Downpour.com, an independent audiobook retailer, recently launched a new rental service which could help readers/listeners save a few bucks.
Downpour customers can now rent audiobooks for 30 to 60 days at a reduced price. The audiobooks have to be read in Downpour’s app, and they will expire at the end of the rental. This breaks with Downpour’s policy on selling audiobooks DRM-free, but makes sense.
According to the catalog around 8,000 titles are available for rental, compared to 30,000 titles available for sale in all formats. TBH I’m not sure how accurate that 8k figure is; I spot checked and a number of the titles listed in that section didn’t show rental as an option alongside MP3, CD, etc. There are also quite a few public domain titles which may not be worth renting, not when you can also find the audiobook for free on another site (here’s a dozen sites you can browse).
But there are other titles for rent, including Atlas Shrugged. This is one of the 60 day rentals (because it’s a bajillion hours long). It rents for $8, and can also be bought for $32. You can find more info at Downpour.com.
So is this a good deal?
I’m not into audiobooks, and I’m also not into renting content, so I can’t tell. I’m going to have to wait for audiobook users to weigh in.
What do you think? (Besides that the Downpour website is as slow as molasses, that is.)
Irish Imbas October 24, 2014 um 4:58 pm
For self-publishing writers outside the US, Amazon’s Audible has always been a bit of a closed shop (although they recently made things easier for writers in the UK) and their exclusivity requirement is also a bit of a turnoff. I hadn’t previously heard of Downpour but any competing retailer will certainly be of interest.
I think the fact that you don’t 'own' your audiocopy (noting the limitations there in a digital sense) might mean some readers will not be so interested. At the same time, consumers of audiobooks tend to chew through them voraciously so if they act like high use library borrowers its possible that they might selectively purchase an audio version of the books they like after they’ve "rented/borrowed" it. There’s also the possibility that they might buy the hardcopy book as opposed to the audio book.
In summary, hard to tell without some good detailed stats on the purchasing behaviour of audiobook listeners. I’m assuming Downpour would not have gone down this service route without a decent business case so I’d be interested to see where they see the main revenue stream coming from (1) the initial rental fee or (2) subsequent purchases of their audiobook stock resulting from the initial rental
tubemonkey October 24, 2014 um 9:32 pm
Unless it’s for some must have listen that can’t be procured elsewhere, there are better ways to get titles to listen to; and at cheaper prices. Audible and Downpour both have numerous sales with many titles well under $10 and frequently below $5. Additionally, Whispersync for Voice (own the Kindle title and get the Audible title at a discount) is another great source for discounts; sometimes huge.
The best source for those not wanting to own a title is a public library that uses OverDrive for its content. Your taxes paid for it, so use it; provided you have access to one of these libraries and the content is to your liking. I’m lucky enough to belong to several public libraries with great OverDrive content, so that’s my number one source for audiobooks.
For those who don’t have this access, there are several libraries with decent to great content that sell memberships ranging from $50 to $125 annually. That amounts to an all-you-can-eat rental service that will be cheaper in the long run for moderate to heavy users than Downpour’s individual title rental.
Bottom line will depend on how badly you want a particular title and it’s availability at the sources previously mentioned. For me, there is no such thing as a must listen to audiobook. If I can’t get access to it for free or at a very low price, I’ll skip it altogether and get something else to listen to.
As to Downpour’s rental service, I’ll never use it; not in a million years.
Syn October 25, 2014 um 6:51 am
Like the other person said. Audible sometimes has sales. Spend one credit, get two books etc. Even at the rate I sub to I’m buying for about 11 dollars versus renting for 8. Seems like a waste to me at that price. They need to halve the 8 dollars I think.
Brian October 27, 2014 um 12:24 pm
Thanks for the update, I hadn’t heard about the rentals! I checked it out and am listening to my first one now, I am not sure where the $8 is coming from most seemed to be less than that to me, I found mine for $5.95 and personally don’t mind paying that for a one time listen of a higher quality recording. And it’s better than waiting around for the title to maybe come on sale.
You’re right about the speed of the site though…yeesh!
Paul January 7, 2015 um 7:00 am
I like the idea of renting rent a book i may only want to read once, but if I have a subscription i need to be able to use credits to rent as well so maybe use one credit to by 3 rental points would work better for members.