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Old 10-30-2010, 10:24 PM   #1
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Audiobooks, the future Hardback? Ebook + Audiobook Bundles?

I was just thinking about what publishers might try to keep those bigger dollar books "flying" off the shelves. And it dawned on me, despite the fact that not all publishers also have the audiobook rights to the text versions in their catalogs, that it might be an attractive bundle for Kindle owners, for now anyway, but offer a bundled Audible version (remember Amazon owns Audible and should be able to figure it out somehow) but bundle that Audible version with the Kindle book since the Kindle is already an Audible ready device.

I know this idea has holes in it for sure, but I am simply trying to think outside where we are today. Also I am thinking about what directions publishers could be looking to keep the revenue flowing.

There is also the whole thing about those of use who already have Audible subscriptions and what not, but it is just and idea...maybe someone will have fun seeing where it could go.

And yes, I have used and do use the TTS on my Kindles, it's nice if reading where you might need the help, darker rooms or even loud locations...reading along with the TTS helps a lot...plus it adds some laughs along the way when certain words are just mangled beyond belief. Or it makes ya wanna take a hammer to the reader if that word is used throughout the book! hehehe....

Also, audiobooks are already quite popular, I mean look at how well Audible has done. But w/o a subscription the books are more than I care to spend so I save credits and shop a fair amount. But an audiobook + ebook bundled for $25 might be something Kindle users who have never even tried an audiobook or Audible.

Again I'm just spit-balling here but I could see many being seduced by the very high quality of the readers used on current Audible books...as a rule they are pretty outstanding performances, light years ahead of those old "books on tape" recordings.
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Old 10-31-2010, 04:06 AM   #2
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Not likely, given Audible yet another DRM merchant - and audiobooks cost much more to both produce and buy. They also take an incredibly long time to get through.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:37 AM   #3
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Actually, if you have a good reader, it only takes about $100-$300 per studio hour (ie, the hours of recorded content, not the actual work hours) to produce an audiobook (already been down that alley myself). So for a book that takes 6 hours to read at a normal pace (my books average about 20min per chapter, and 6-7 hours total for the entire book), which unless you're a speed reader is the normal pace you'd read a regular book at, will cost between $600 and $1800 total to produce. (this means that the tracks are leveled, and all studio work is completed, and when it's done you have a final product ready for sale.)

Add in the extras like cover, cd generation, ISBN and so on, and you've got at most $3000 into an audiobook which will sell for about $25 in cd form for 6 hours of listening, and about $15 for mp3. (Yes, audiobooks are a racket if you consider that the per unit cost for the packaging after production is about $2 per unit, making them nearly 85% profit) So personally I think that if someone is expecting wide distribution sales in considerable numbers, audiobooks are really economical to produce. The only time they might not be is if you have a celebrity reader like Patrick Stewart who would make the raw studio hours jump to like $20,000 without batting an eye.

I'm right now waiting for my audiobook files to come back from the studio (we use a 3rd party studio for all our audiobooks as it's just cheaper, easier, and produces better quality than if we did it in house), and once they do, I'll be offering them for sale in both packaged CD's and mp3's. So in the grand scheme of things, the only real *downside* to audiobooks is that it takes longer to produce them than a regular book or ebook due to all the extra steps you have to go through if you want pressed cd's like I want. If you don't want pressed cd's and only plan to sell them as mp3's, then the production time is actually far less, but still almost as long as for a printed book.

Anywho, that's my 2c in on this argument. As for doing bundles, I think it'd be a cool thing to do.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:53 AM   #4
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Hi

That's an interesting line of thought. Bundling sort of makes sense - especially now that Kindle can play music. I have used Audible and my account is linked to my Amazon account so all the Audible books I have bought are part of the archive on my Kindle. I have not tried downloading them as I am still pretty precious about my Kindle memory.

Steve - thanks for the insight into the process of creating audio books, congratulations on the books (both paper and audio). I wonder with the prevalence of iPods and other MP3 player MP3 based audio books will grow more popular and start to push out CDs. If bundling with an ebook takes hold this makes even more sense.

I would certainly give an ebook bundled with an mp3 audio (unabridged) some consideration. However I would not be keen to have to download both to my Kindle - although as I said I might just be being overly careful about my memory.

Last edited by Wasabihound; 10-31-2010 at 08:55 AM.
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Old 10-31-2010, 01:24 PM   #5
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I like this idea! I like to have a print copy (ebook or DTB, but preferably ebook) of my audiobooks. I don't use them often, but there have been times when I wanted to go back and look at something that happened earlier in the book, and that's pretty hard to do with an audiobook. Also, I will occasionally switch from audio to print to finish a book. I do most of my listening in the car or when doing yardwork, and if I get close to the end of a book and know I won't have the opportunity to listen again for a few days, I'll just pick up the ebook and read the end. Having both versions available in a bundle would work great for me!
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Old 10-31-2010, 01:28 PM   #6
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What percentage of an ebook's price is profit? What does it cost a publisher to publish an ebook?
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Old 10-31-2010, 01:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wasabihound View Post
Hi

That's an interesting line of thought. Bundling sort of makes sense - especially now that Kindle can play music. I have used Audible and my account is linked to my Amazon account so all the Audible books I have bought are part of the archive on my Kindle. I have not tried downloading them as I am still pretty precious about my Kindle memory.

Steve - thanks for the insight into the process of creating audio books, congratulations on the books (both paper and audio). I wonder with the prevalence of iPods and other MP3 player MP3 based audio books will grow more popular and start to push out CDs. If bundling with an ebook takes hold this makes even more sense.

I would certainly give an ebook bundled with an mp3 audio (unabridged) some consideration. However I would not be keen to have to download both to my Kindle - although as I said I might just be being overly careful about my memory.
Do Kindles have a "resume" function for audio content? Sonys do not, which make them pretty useless for anything except music, short stories, and podcasts. Moreover, audio really sucks up the juice fast!
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:19 PM   #8
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Hi

That's an interesting line of thought. Bundling sort of makes sense - especially now that Kindle can play music. I have used Audible and my account is linked to my Amazon account so all the Audible books I have bought are part of the archive on my Kindle. I have not tried downloading them as I am still pretty precious about my Kindle memory.

Steve - thanks for the insight into the process of creating audio books, congratulations on the books (both paper and audio). I wonder with the prevalence of iPods and other MP3 player MP3 based audio books will grow more popular and start to push out CDs. If bundling with an ebook takes hold this makes even more sense.

I would certainly give an ebook bundled with an mp3 audio (unabridged) some consideration. However I would not be keen to have to download both to my Kindle - although as I said I might just be being overly careful about my memory.
That is a pretty valid point about downloading books to your Kindle. Something about Audible is book over about 6hrs long are broken into multiple parts with the 2nd best quality (format 4) runs about 70-100MB in size, so it's not huge so one can easily download a segment of a book whenever you need and delete sections you are done with. I haven't looked into what formats the Kindle will play if it can play format 2 downloads then the file size is a LOT smaller, smaller in size by about 50-60% from format 4 (I don't know about the new Enhanced Format books though).

Something to remember about MP3 playback is there are hoops you need to hump through in order to convert an Audible format book. Good news is there are free apps to do that...basically what they do is record the book while it's playing on your PC as Amazon is pretty protective over converting their .aa files. And that is one of the limitations I see for all reading devices with MP3 playback having a problem, they aren't Audible compatible so something else would need to change in the industry for that to happen. I find new CD/tape audiobooks still pretty darned expensive to buy new. The few I have purchased on tape or CD are used for a fraction of the original cost...ok, they are all the Harry Potter books which are a BLAST as audiobooks.

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I like this idea! I like to have a print copy (ebook or DTB, but preferably ebook) of my audiobooks. I don't use them often, but there have been times when I wanted to go back and look at something that happened earlier in the book, and that's pretty hard to do with an audiobook. Also, I will occasionally switch from audio to print to finish a book. I do most of my listening in the car or when doing yardwork, and if I get close to the end of a book and know I won't have the opportunity to listen again for a few days, I'll just pick up the ebook and read the end. Having both versions available in a bundle would work great for me!
COOL!!! I I haven't done that yet when I buy an Audible version of a book after reading the ebook version but it's a great way to take advantage of the two formats of the book.

I use audiobooks to fall asleep to every night...my player is an old Creative Labs Zen Xtra which I have upgraded the HDD to an old 100GB drive so my whole library is on the player. but it has a sleep timer which when combined with bookmarks, I can guess about where it left off when I last was awake. Using that same basic setup, you could use bookmarks in both the audio and ebook copies...

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Actually, if you have a good reader, it only takes about $100-$300 per studio hour (ie, the hours of recorded content, not the actual work hours) to produce an audiobook (already been down that alley myself). So for a book that takes 6 hours to read at a normal pace (my books average about 20min per chapter, and 6-7 hours total for the entire book), which unless you're a speed reader is the normal pace you'd read a regular book at, will cost between $600 and $1800 total to produce. (this means that the tracks are leveled, and all studio work is completed, and when it's done you have a final product ready for sale.)

Add in the extras like cover, cd generation, ISBN and so on, and you've got at most $3000 into an audiobook which will sell for about $25 in cd form for 6 hours of listening, and about $15 for mp3. (Yes, audiobooks are a racket if you consider that the per unit cost for the packaging after production is about $2 per unit, making them nearly 85% profit) So personally I think that if someone is expecting wide distribution sales in considerable numbers, audiobooks are really economical to produce. The only time they might not be is if you have a celebrity reader like Patrick Stewart who would make the raw studio hours jump to like $20,000 without batting an eye.

I'm right now waiting for my audiobook files to come back from the studio (we use a 3rd party studio for all our audiobooks as it's just cheaper, easier, and produces better quality than if we did it in house), and once they do, I'll be offering them for sale in both packaged CD's and mp3's. So in the grand scheme of things, the only real *downside* to audiobooks is that it takes longer to produce them than a regular book or ebook due to all the extra steps you have to go through if you want pressed cd's like I want. If you don't want pressed cd's and only plan to sell them as mp3's, then the production time is actually far less, but still almost as long as for a printed book.

Anywho, that's my 2c in on this argument. As for doing bundles, I think it'd be a cool thing to do.
That is some really nice candid insight into the overhead for a professional creation of an audiobook. And pointing out that "brand name" readers carry huge premiums. I imagine that the more popular readers have higher rates as well, but the nice thing is there have to be a lot of actors and just regular folks who can pretty much teach themselves to be readers so it could keep costs down to a reasonable level. And ultimately it still comes down to the book itself because even the best reader can't propel a marginal book to popularity or if the cost to produce the audiobook version makes sense as even, say $3500 is still a lot of cash requiring a fair number of sales to reach that "Mendoza Line".

Thanks so much for the look behind the curtain!! Also glad to read it might be something you might consider trying out yourself. I know I would be attracted to a bundled option where I would NEVER look at buying a hardcover edition.

One real drawback of playing the books on your reader would be the battery life is significantly shorter so it might be better to have a basic Audible compatible MP3 player to carry around a few books on at a time. Though if ya know you are going to be near power during the day it's easy to charge your ebook reader. Another is I don't thing the Kindle, for example, has any sort of book marking ability on MP3 files. Not even sure it does anything more than remember where your were last listening for Audible books either.

I actually have been expecting Amazon to begin doing this bundling thing for a while now as I am sure a good percentage of their Audible subscribers also have Kindles and this would be a way to get subscribers to buy beyond their monthly subscription credits. I know I currently limit myself to the subscription credits. But bundles for titles I know I want as ebooks sure could make it a possibility I would bite. I figure the reason they, Amazon, has not tried this just yet is due to publisher problems because of who owns what rights for a book and none of the publishers seem to be willing to give up price for the shot at increasing the sales volume as well as increased exposure. And to make this attractive there would need to be some adjustments on most books.
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Old 10-31-2010, 02:21 PM   #9
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Do Kindles have a "resume" function for audio content? Sonys do not, which make them pretty useless for anything except music, short stories, and podcasts. Moreover, audio really sucks up the juice fast!
For Audible books, yes it remembers where you were when you stopped the playback...for MP3's nope, at least the last time I checked.

And yeah audio drains the battery fast which is why I use an Audible compatible MP3 player instead of my Kindle. Players are inexpensive these days so no reason that could be a problem.

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Old 10-31-2010, 03:37 PM   #10
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Actually, if you have a good reader, it only takes about $100-$300 per studio hour (ie, the hours of recorded content, not the actual work hours) to produce an audiobook (already been down that alley myself). So for a book that takes 6 hours to read at a normal pace (my books average about 20min per chapter, and 6-7 hours total for the entire book), which unless you're a speed reader is the normal pace you'd read a regular book at, will cost between $600 and $1800 total to produce. (this means that the tracks are leveled, and all studio work is completed, and when it's done you have a final product ready for sale.)
Talent fees (for professional narrators who are not celebrities (i.e., the kind of narrators that audible tends to use) will add an additional $200-$300 per hour. Also - I'm an Audible "Platinum" user, meaning I get two credits/month for, I think, $23. I never use my credits on an audiobook less than ten hours long; mostly I "read" ones that are 15+ hours long (my current read is 22 hours). So it can get somewhat expensive.

I'm not quite sure how interested I would be in a bundle, though. I do have a couple of audiobooks/ebook combinations (mostly PD books), and I will occasionally dip into the ebook from the audiobook. But I'm not sure how much I would want to pay for the privilege - at 99c for the six volume Chronicles of Barshetshire, it's a no brainer...but I don't know that I would want to pay even $3 extra for a combination.

But I can imagine that a lot of people would feel differently.
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:32 PM   #11
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That is some really nice candid insight into the overhead for a professional creation of an audiobook. And pointing out that "brand name" readers carry huge premiums. I imagine that the more popular readers have higher rates as well, but the nice thing is there have to be a lot of actors and just regular folks who can pretty much teach themselves to be readers so it could keep costs down to a reasonable level. And ultimately it still comes down to the book itself because even the best reader can't propel a marginal book to popularity or if the cost to produce the audiobook version makes sense as even, say $3500 is still a lot of cash requiring a fair number of sales to reach that "Mendoza Line".
Why thank you. I try to take all the cool stuff I've learned while working on the inside of the publishing industry to help out authors to better understand what they're getting into and what to expect/do in order to be as successful as possible.
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What percentage of an ebook's price is profit? What does it cost a publisher to publish an ebook?
Well, that depends a lot on the price, startup and continuing costs, plus the distributer fees. Most distributor fees average about 30% of the ebook sale price. Subtract another 20% for other costs and fees, including marketing and the like, it averages out to about 50% or so.
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Talent fees (for professional narrators who are not celebrities (i.e., the kind of narrators that audible tends to use) will add an additional $200-$300 per hour. Also - I'm an Audible "Platinum" user, meaning I get two credits/month for, I think, $23. I never use my credits on an audiobook less than ten hours long; mostly I "read" ones that are 15+ hours long (my current read is 22 hours). So it can get somewhat expensive.
Yeah, talent fees for non-celebrity professional readers would increase it somewhat. But even if the studio fees went as high as $1000 per studio hour, you're still within a reasonable ballpark cost when you're all done. On a book with 15-22 hours of studio time, plus extras, that's upwards to $25k for the entire production of the audiobook. At $25 a pop on the shelf, minus discounts and costs, bringing the total down to probably $12 realistically that you would get from selling each audiobook, that still allows you to break even point of about 2100 units sold. This would actually fit nicely with my 3/2 rule. In other words, I need to sell 50% more units than it cost to produce the book/audiobook/ebook/whatever in order to justify even bothering with doing it.

And this applies regardless of who you publish through from big house, all the way down to self publishing. If you can't guarantee yourself at least 50% more income from sales than it cost to produce it (this counts both in money and time, as time = labor = cost. Even if the labor is free, it's still a cost, even if it is soft expense. Thus it still needs to be figured into the cost of producing the item)
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Old 10-31-2010, 08:53 PM   #12
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I listened to few of them several years ago. Non fiction is OK but I found fiction lacking.
I switched to Old Time Radio shows.
Books are designed to be read and OTR is designed to be listened to.
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Old 10-31-2010, 09:42 PM   #13
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I really don't think audiobooks are going to replace hardcovers, not only are they a completely different experience than reading, but they also lack the tactile aspect.

I don't think anything is going to replace hardcovers. Ebooks will eventually replace mass market paperbacks, and audiobooks will stay their own thing. Hardcovers may become even more of a niche/collectible market, but they're going to stay around in that market.

Besides, what happens to people like me? I love a good hardcover, but I can't stand audiobooks. It makes my skin crawl to listen to one.
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:57 PM   #14
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I love audiobooks, and paperbacks, but find hardcovers clunky -- ebooks a solution!
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Old 11-01-2010, 04:47 AM   #15
JeremyR
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: St. Louis
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Audiobooks are pretty good while on a driving trip. But that's about it for me, it's just far easier to just read a book (or e-reader). Too easy to get distracted and miss something
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