Audio Books Transition to Digital

Publihers Weekly has some interesting analysis of the trend away from audiobook on CD and toward digital downloads:

The poor economy and the decision by the bookstore chains to reduce inventory—two key factors in producing soft book sales—have also hurt sales of CDs, Allessi noted, while the recession has also slowed the growth of digital audio. In addition, cuts in library budgets have slowed sales in that market, noted Kevin Colebank, CEO of the independent spoken-word audio publisher Tantor Media. Overall, the 30 companies that reported to the APA had sales of $331 million in 2008, down 6.7% from 2007.

Despite the obstacles facing CDs, they will remain the biggest part of the market for a while, predicted Michelle Cobb of BBC Audio America. For one thing, CD availability on store shelves makes it easier for consumers to pick one up compared with the digital space, where spoken-word audio faces lots of digital competition, believes Cobb.

The transition to digital presents spoken-word audio publishers with another issue familiar to their book publishing counterparts—pricing.



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I read a lot of audio books nowadays, but didn’t start until I could get them from EMusic. I pay $9.99 a month for a single book download. They don’t have *everything* that Amazon/etc have, but enough to keep me busy during work/school commute and running.
I supplement this occasionally with trips to the local library, but a lot of their CD’s are so beat up and scratched they won’t even play.

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