Thursday, February 22, 2007

Netflix for Books

I read at Publishing News that audiobooks can now be rented at audiobooksonline. I think many of you will agree with me when I say, "It's about time!" Audiobooks are too expensive for the average consumer to purchase at a regular basis, and they last only six to eight hours. As Rodney Burbeck explains, "Also, by their very nature they are a 'one listen-to product'. They are therefore an ideal product to rent." Similar to Netflix and other online DVD rental companies, the customer pays a monthly subscription fee and compiles a wish list of audiobooks. The first publishers to make this service available are Macmillan, Naxos, Smart Pass, Assembled Stories and Oakhill.

How does this affect writers? The audiobook rental company will exercise a universal royalties structure, which will have no limit or minimum on how much must be made. Since the more popular titles will be rented more, they will make more profit for publishers and writers. Furthermore, with this service, writers will be able to expand their readership. The head of Sales and Marketing at Naxos Audiobooks, Mark Scott, explains, "This is a great opportunity for us to bring our list to a wider audience and encourage people who may never have bought an audiobook to experiment with a broad range of titles.”

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