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Old 09-14-2005, 04:55 PM   #1
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Kitabe applies Netflix strategy to audiobooks

I discovered a new website recently, Kitabe.com, which seems to have applied the Netflix method to the audiobook problem. But the best part of the deal is that they distribute their audiobooks on MP3-CD, so that books that would take up 10 CDs can be sent on just one. I didn't even realize that publishers were releasing books in this format.

Interestingly, their faq does not mention ipod-like devices, focusing instead on playing on car and home stereos and computers. Is there DRM in place to prevent copying these files into your DAP? Or are they just not going to mention it to avoid advocating that you copy these files?

Anyway the price is $12.75/month for one audiobook at a time, no late fees, free shipping, etc. They have a decent selection of history and non-fiction, but not extraordinary. They do seem to have plenty of popular fiction. If they can capture a market niche, perhaps their library will continue to grow.

Does anyone have any experience with this site? Sounds like it might be worth pursuing for me, being a dedicated devourer of auditory input. I'd love to hear other's thoughts.
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Old 09-14-2005, 05:45 PM   #2
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Nice find!

I see a price on the site link of "$9.95/month for one audio book (Silver Membership)" and about $25/mo unlimited rentals (i.e. as many as you can listen to and get to travel back and forth during a month). Looks very good. But there are inexpensive alternatives if you are lucky enough to live near one... IggleVideo (associated with Giant Eagle grocery stores in the US) and Cracker Barrel restaurants.

I only started listening to audiobooks recently, but now I'm hooked. They are perfect for my long commute every day, especially with all the construction I have to go through. (Yuk!)
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Old 09-15-2005, 11:15 AM   #3
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Today I received a message from Aileen, PR for SimplyAudiobooks.com who wanted to make sure that I mention them in this article. Of course, I didn't even look to see who else was in this market when I mentioned the Kitabe link. Evidently there are a number of small competitors in this niche including Jiggerbug, Booksfree, and AudioDiversions to name a few others that come up on the first page of a search. It would be interesting to see how their catalogs differ.

Audible.com is still a dominant force with a very large catalog, but there are apparently enough people who do not like the DRM of Audible and would prefer the actual disks. The Netflix model is a good one for audiobooks and I would love to see these companies succeed. Now who is going to make the Teaching Company lectures available to rent?
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Old 09-16-2005, 09:09 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info. I'm an Audible.com "Basic Listener" and have been for about three years. The more competition and alternatives that give consumers choice, the better. Applying the Netflix model sounds like a good alternative as well as a good business model. Going head to head with Audible.com using a download distribution model would have been very difficult. The major downside and risk I see is that Netflix could decide to expand their services and offer audiobooks.
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Old 09-20-2005, 09:07 PM   #5
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Here's a story at the New York Times about Simplyaudiobooks.com and audiobook listening by commuters.

Quote:
Audio book publishers have long known that listening to books is popular with commuters, but have never quite managed to crack this nut: how to breach all those locked garages and sophisticated car alarms to put samples of their goods inside vehicles.
I think the nut is getting cracked by the likes of Audible.com, Kitabe, and Simplyaudiobooks.com.
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Old 11-19-2005, 10:22 AM   #6
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I use Kitabe

Hello,

I am a member of Kitabe and am impressed with them so far. I've listened to Audio books for several years. It is great way to pass the miles and as a truck driver there are plenty of them. What I like about the MP3 format is that nearly all of them (and all of Kitabe's) are unabridged. I own a LOT of books in tape format, but when I found the tapes starting to go bad I started a program to put my own books into MP3. I've been working on it for a couple of years and then discovered Kitabe.

They have a fairly quick turnaround. I get 2 books ata time and average 6 books a month. I could do better, but my schedule makes it hard. I do tranfer my books to my MP3 player (Archos multi-media 20 gig) and return the disk within two days. Hope this helps
 
Old 11-19-2005, 11:16 AM   #7
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I listen to audio books in my car also, but my 90min daily commute is nothing compared to truck driving! Still it is really fun to listen to books.

I also totally agree with you about unabridged books being better. I recently bought a batch of second hand audiobooks on cassette. There were both abridged and unabridged books by the same authors. Now that I've listened to both, I'd say that with the abridged books, I always just wanted to get through them to find out what happens. But with the unabridged books, it felt like the journey though the book was fun in itself, and I enjoyed the experience instead of having that attitude of conquer and finish.

The other option people may not have thought of (including me until recently) is the most obvious one... the public library. At least in the US, I think most libraries probably have a nice collection of both cassette and CD audiobooks. I've just discovered this at my tiny local neighborhood library, and will next try some of the larger branches for a better selection.

This seems to be the best way to go for me, and is free! Of course, with one of the online rental or purchase services, you probably get much better selection, and you never have to leave the house. It all comes down to individual preferences I guess.
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Old 12-27-2005, 01:17 PM   #8
J Steves
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Audio Book Rental

I read the posting on Kitabe and SimplyAudiobooks. I haven't heard of Kitabe and I was a former Simply member but much prefer Jiggerbug for Audio book rentals because they are inexpensive (free trials, coupons, promotions and unlimited rentals for under $20) and they have instant downloads AND shipped CD's in one rate plan. For simply, I think if you want BOTH downloads and cd's by mail you have to pay for 2 rate plans.
Jiggerbug has 25,000 titles, and if they don't have what you want, they'll order it for you.
Their customer service is great which is more than what I can say about Simply and they get me my books A LOT faster than simply.

http://www.jiggerbug.com
http://www.audiosend.com To search for audio books across the internet
 
Old 02-07-2006, 11:03 PM   #9
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audiobook services

I have used several audiobook rental services. Simply Audiobooks, Jiggerbug, Booksfree, and Kitabe. Jiggerbug is by far the best deal and has the fastest turn-around time and the download feature, but do not have books in the MP3 format and are slower to acquire new releases. Simply Audiobooks has the slowest turn-around and were the closest in location to my home. It took them over a week for books to arrive in the mail once they shipped them, but they would only take two days when I mailed them back. I have heard many complaints from there other customers about this problem. Kitabe and Booksfree have good customer service and a good selection, though Kitabe's shipping times are creeping up to resemble those of Simply Audiobooks. Booksfree has too travel clear across the nation and makes it to my door step in three days.










Quote:
Originally Posted by ignatz
I discovered a new website recently,





Kitabe.com, which seems to have applied the Netflix method to the audiobook problem. But the best part of the deal is that they distribute their audiobooks on MP3-CD, so that books that would take up 10 CDs can be sent on just one. I didn't even realize that publishers were releasing books in this format.

Interestingly, their faq does not mention ipod-like devices, focusing instead on playing on car and home stereos and computers. Is there DRM in place to prevent copying these files into your DAP? Or are they just not going to mention it to avoid advocating that you copy these files?

Anyway the price is $12.75/month for one audiobook at a time, no late fees, free shipping, etc. They have a decent selection of history and non-fiction, but not extraordinary. They do seem to have plenty of popular fiction. If they can capture a market niche, perhaps their library will continue to grow.

Does anyone have any experience with this site? Sounds like it might be worth pursuing for me, being a dedicated devourer of auditory input. I'd love to hear other's thoughts.
 
 

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