Audiobook prices are double or triple the cost of your average e-book. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green costs $4.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook costs $17.99. Max Brooks seminal World War Z – The Oral History of the Zombie Wars costs $9.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook will set you back $28.00.
Why are audiobooks so overpriced compared to e-Books and print? It comes down to the studio costs, which the publishers call cost per finished hour. Each audiobook is on average around 12 hours, which costs on average $300 to $400 an hour. The finished product after its all said and done is normally $5,000 to $6,000 to produce an audiobbook.
Some publishing companies embrace famous actors and celebrities in a bid to make their audiobook stand out in the crowd. The aforementioned World War Z hired 21 different voice actors, such as Simon Pegg, Common and Martin Scorsese. Even hiring just one famous person to narrate the book, drives the production costs up exponentially. The average cost is now $1,000 to $1,500 per book hour and the final product would cost over $17,000.
Publishers spend a lot of money to produce an audiobook, with no guarantee that will sell. Not everyone buys audiobooks either, so the prices have to stay high, so each individual sale matters.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.