In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
Amazon.com has acquired audiobook publisher Brilliance Audio and announced its disc-on-demand service will offer recorded books as well as movies and music.
Amazon.com has acquired audiobook publisher Brilliance Audio and announced its Disc On Demand service will offer recorded books as well as movies and music. A book publisher that has not recorded a book into audio format will be able to use Brilliance Audio to do the recording, says Greg Greeley, vice president of books at Amazon.
Once a book is in audio format, regardless of which audiobook publisher produces it, it can be offered for sale through the Disc On Demand service of Amazon.com’s CustomFlix unit, which now sells movies and is moving into music and now audiobooks. CustomFlix creates a CD when the customer offers it, which means publishers need not keep a stock of prerecorded CDs.
That will allow publishers to offer more audiobooks, which until now have been largely limited to best-selling titles, Greeley says. “With this acquisition we can make it more efficient for authors and book publishers of all sizes to expand the number of titles produced in increasingly popular audio formats, offering customers a much broader selection,” Greeley says.
Greeley says audiobooks is a growing category for Amazon, but he would not provide details. He added that the growth in portable music players that can play audiobooks is a driver for growth in this category.
CustomFlix will support both standard CD and MP3-CD audiobook formats. MP3-CDs carry the audiobook file in the compressed MP3 format. Greeley says most books can be contained on a single MP3-CD.
Brilliance Audio calls itself the largest independent publisher of audiobooks, but does not release sales figures. Audiobook sales hit $871 million in the U.S. in 2005, a 4.7% increase from the previous year, according to the Audio Publishers Association.
“Anything that helps to expand our market is a positive thing,” says Michele Cobb, president of the Audio Publishers Association. “If you can get people to try an audiobook in any format they will go on to become repeat listeners, so if this increases the exposure for the industry we’re certainly glad to see that.”
A consumer survey last fall by the Audio Publishers Association found 31% of audiobooks were purchased online, 63% in stores and 6% by phone or mail order. In 2005, 74% of audiobooks were purchased as CDs and 1% as MP3-CDs, 9% were downloaded and 16% were on cassettes.
Amazon says Brilliance Audio, which is based in Grand Haven, MI, will continue to operate independently, with Michael Snodgrass, founder and president, remaining at the helm. Amazon is No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.