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Is Audible Pushing German Publishers Into a Flat-Rate All-You-Can-Listen Streaming Service?

audible kindle unlimitedI still have more questions than answers about Audible’s two-week-old spat with German book publishers, and now has added to the confusion.

When I first reported on this story eleven days ago I suggested that Audible was trying to force the publishers to agree to new payment terms which included a flat royalty rate. That matched with Audible’s actions last year, and it’s what came out of Google Translate, but it’s not what Buch Report is saying.

According to their report today as well as the comment Daniel Lenz left in the comment section of last week’s post, Audible is pushing publishers into a new contract for a subscription service not unlike Kindle Unlimited.

While you might call Audible current service a subscription, it’s really closer to a book-of-the-month club. The new one would reportedly be more like Kindle Unlimited or Scribd, each of which will let you read or stream as many ebook or audiobooks as you like.

Or at least that is what is being reported; I am passing along the information but I am having trouble believing it, myself. I would have thought we would hear similar reports from the US, but nothing has leaked.

Still, it’s not impossible. Kindle Unlimited launched in July 2014 with a limited selection of audiobooks, and in April Amazon added audiobooks to the German branch of KU. And of course Scribd expanded its catalog in November with 30,000 audiobooks. They later added 9,000 audiobook titles from Penguin Random House.

So it is possible that Audible is pushing German publishers into a streaming service, and holding the threat of delisting over their heads? Yes.

But I still want to see more proof. For example, I want more details on the program, and I want specifics on the payment terms. At this point we have neither.

Stay tuned.


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Mark_S May 26, 2015 um 9:47 am

This news is based on a story published by the magazine "Der Spiegel" (german text) last week. It was attested by several small publishers who are involved, so it seems to be true.

Nate Hoffelder May 26, 2015 um 12:41 pm

Actually, it was the week before last (on a Friday). I covered it at the time and found it to be woefully lacking in details.

Yes, it told us something was going on, but not much more than that. That article did not offer enough detail for me to tell exactly what was going on. For all I knew, the real story had been garbled by Google translate or the Spiegel journalist.

What’s Next for Digital? What Matters? Why? | Digital Book World May 27, 2015 um 8:06 am

[…] Audible Exploring Unlimited Streaming? (Ink, Bits & Pixels) Recent indications that Audible could be in tense talks with German publishers over a new contract for digital audiobooks give way to unconfirmed rumors that a key sticking point is a provision that would allow Amazon to offer an unlimited, subscription-based streaming program through Audible, similar to Kindle Unlimited. […]

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