Bundle e-books? What about Audiobooks?

When the topic of bundling is brought into the conversation, many often think about print and e-books being bundled, but what about bundling audiobooks with print or e-books instead? Audiobooks can be seen as the retro era of digital books, but within recent years they have been seeing a rise in sales:

“Publishers submitting to the Audio Publishers Association (APA) Sales Survey reported a production increase from 7,237 titles in 2011 to 35,574 titles in 2015—a nearly 500-percent increase. Sales revenue of audio has been continuously gaining as well, with nearly 21 percent growth reported for 2015 over the prior year.”

With the beginning of iPods and smartphones, audiobooks now have a wider range of distribution. You no longer need a car to play them while commuting, or carry a bunch of tapes or CDs in your bag. Everything can be stored in your small device that is taken everywhere. And audiobooks can now be instantly downloaded into your computer. Society is not demanding media in physical form:

“Majority of audiobook consumers opt for instant gratification by downloading audiobooks straight to their devices … Some people even pay non-resident fees to libraries in other areas to take advantage of that library’s audiobook catalog.”

Bundling audiobooks may not be a priority for big trade publishers because, like e-books, audiobooks are another format of the book to sell. Publishers do not want to take a chance on losing revenue. But Shelfie, a Canadian e-bundling service, is doing it:

“35% of all audiobooks that are compatible are 100% free and the rest are severely discounted so you won’t pay the same price as you normally would with iTunes or Audible.”

Also, one of the biggest book sellers is bundling as well. Amazon is bundling their e-books with audiobooks on their Kindle Paperwhite. Consumers can buy an e-book for their Kindle and add and audio companion. Amazon has also partnered their Matchmaker with Audible audiobooks to pair Kindle books. Readers can then switch between formats:

“Allows readers to pick up at the right spot when switching between reading and listening to books, across devices … able to add a narrated copy of a book to your Kindle ebook with one click.”

Some may think that bundling audiobooks with formats like e-books may be pointless because a lot of devices have text-to-speech features, but if you have ever used that feature it sounds like a robot is reading to you, which is boring. If audiobooks are bundled, it allows the consumer to share the book with any family or friends that are visually impaired. Hachette knows the importance of including disabled readers by making an audiobook catalog available through the National Library Service:

“Hachette Book Group strives to make authors’ content as widely accessible as possible, and the NLS program is the perfect channel to reach fans of our books and audiobooks who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience those works”.

With the rise of audiobooks, publishers and book sellers may be hesitant to bundle audiobooks for free or even at a deep discount. Audiobooks are rising in sales and more titles are being produced each year:

“The global audiobook industry is currently evaluated at 2.8 billion dollars and this is primarily due to the sheer amount of new titles that were produced in 2015. 43,000 new audiobooks were released this year, which is a slight increase from the 36,000 that came out in 2014 and a far cry from the 20,000 that were issued in 2013.”

But publishers do not have to have every title bundled with an audiobook. They can bundle a handful of audiobooks and give readers a taste of audiobooks, and the potential for them to start buying more audiobooks. Another option is what Audible has done with Onebook, where they have increased Audible’s visibility:

“With the current Send A Book initiative, the biggest change is that Audible subscribers now can share a book in their library with up to 1,000 people. The recipients still can redeem only one free book, but they now have the option to send it to people in their network. Recipients do not need to create an Audible account … as long as they have an existing account on Amazon.”

It is not surprising that audiobooks are becoming more popular. It is easier for people to carry books in their devices than physical form, and when commuting it is more hands-free; you can read while you walk. Audiobooks can also be nostalgic by bringing you back to childhood memories where your parents read to you. With the rise of audiobooks, publishers can take the advantage to bundle audiobooks to let buyers sample it, and lead them to continue buying audiobooks. Could more retailers and publishers go into the audiobook direction?


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