Amazon controls over 41% of the entire US audiobook market through its subsidiary Audible, according to Codex Group Research. Audible has had a near monopoly for over the past decade, but newer entrants such as Google, Kobo and Walmart are looking to erode some of the market share.
Walmart partnered with Kobo to sell ebooks and audiobooks on its website and will also release a co-branded app later this year so people can read and listen. Google Audiobooks launched in over 40 countries last month and offers audio editions from major publishers on an a la carte basis, with no subscription fees.
One of the ways Audible has been able to continue being the dominant player in the audiobook industry is primarily due to getting exclusive rights. Several major publishers say they don’t generally buy a new book without the audiobook rights included, but this hasn’t stopped Audible from getting them anyways.
This rights mentality is really how Amazon is able to drive exclusive content to their Audible subscription service. Amazon just paid millions of dollars for the rights to Olympic snowboarder Shaun White’s memoir, which will come out later this year. The audio edition will come out one month before the print and ebook edition will be available.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.