Is Amazon Vulnerable on Audiobooks?

Second-most interesting thing to happen in ebooks last week, after Amazon’s Temple-of-Doom-like ripping out the heart of ebook competitors, was the announcement of the Barnes & Noble audiobook store.

This isn’t the first audiobooks announcement to be heard lately.  In fact, after the abysmal failure of the universal consumer format to take off (there are more than twice as many audio titles as epub titles available from Overdrive), audiobooks are sorta the new rallying point where “competition” is supposed to occur and allow legions of unnecssary middlemen to keep their thumb in the pie.

What’s surprising about this is that anyone would be championing audio titles when Amazon owns Audible, the company that invented and still, theoretically, dominates the audiobook market.  You’d almost wonder why folk are selling spoken word so… openly.

In a word, I’d say it’s because Audible… just isn’t getting it done.  They’re really hard to deal with, they only want to work with bigger players, they traffic exclusively in digital but demand you mail them physical media for appraisal, etc., etc.  And that’s currently the only way to sell audiobooks on Amazon.com (unless you burn 15 CDs).

Background, yes, we do some mp3 at Olympia, our voice is so good she’s gotten marriage proposals and repeated requests to do something honest in matriarcy.  It’s kinda hard to make it in a corporate environment if your entire line is titles like Angel Ass, so… I went ahead and commissioned an audio edition of Black Wings Has My Angel.  (Sample.)

Now, it may not be perfect, but most audiobooks out there aren’t perfect.  By any means.  The problem is you get no feedback from Audible.com; and this problem is by no means exclusive to me.

So, not only are people trying to do Audiobooks as an app in the Kindle store (with text attached as a work-around), and not only are people in the CreateSpace forums clamoring for Amazon to let them do audiobook one-offs, currently, apart from people like myself, who’d rather watch, Clockwork-Orange-style, 24 hours of looped video where POD also-rans explain how they’re going to take over despite CreateSpace blowing them away than deal with the Ohioans, there are even folks willing to partner with Overdrive, if only for audiobooks, and only because they suck less than NetLibrary or Audible.

This can’t happen long-term, can it? My worldview will be permanently shattered by the failure of any Amazon company, no matter how small, to suffer defeat at the hands of Steve, I’m important, no really, Potash.

Maybe it’s time to take another look at what CreateSpace will accept, submission-wise…  and add a spoken word/audio/digital download category.  They’ve done so much else for ya.

About dmoynihan

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